“You like my body the way it is”

A few weeks ago, at The Link’s launch party (no, there is no feud between our publications) BackxWash performed “You like my body the way it is” off her Deviancy album. In a moment that felt like I was in a movie — as if the camera was behind and panned to a POV of me watching BackxWash perform — I latched onto those lyrics and snapped into journalist mode. A story idea (this one) came alive.

BackxWash starts by saying she had a dream she would die and go to heaven, moving into the second verse with, “If he [Jesus] made me in his image/ It’s amazing how I hate seeing my face up in the mirror”. The rest of the song takes you through this sentiment; the feeling of inadequacy, the idea of wanting to change parts of yourself, either partly or completely. Then the chorus shines through: “you like my body the way it is” — you admire it and cherish it and love it just how it is, regardless of how much I don’t like about it or what I want to change.

There has been a growth in the body-positivity movement over the past few years, with everyone preaching that you should love yourself just the way you are. The thing with body-positivity is that it can take years for some to actually achieve a state of mind of full acceptance.

If someone has years of issues with their body image, just telling them “love yourself” or that there’s nothing wrong with them doesn’t do much. Sometimes, especially if someone has struggled with loving themselves for a long time, it takes more than simple affirming statements from a stranger over the Internet or kind words from your friends to really spark a change of mind.

BackxWash’s song is a reality check that these thoughts of inadequacy and of wanting to change parts of yourself are still on people’s minds, despite the body positivity movement trying to rid the world of negative thoughts people have about their bodies. Her song is also a soft reminder that having another person love the parts of you that you hate can help you learn to love those parts yourself.

There have been times where I didn’t like parts of my body, either because of the perfect body propaganda on social media and in advertising around me, or because of years of feeling inadequate and inferior to everyone else my age, or even because I was comparing myself to others. All of these added to my already not-so-great self-image. But between those times of self-doubt and of feeling inadequate, there have been people who were patient with me, who took the time to learn what I didn’t like about myself and made sure I knew they loved those parts of me. They made sure to tell me they liked my body the way it is, even if I couldn’t see it at first. And soon enough, because of these people, I started liking the parts of myself that I used to not like so much.

The point of this is that, sometimes, we all need a little help loving ourselves, to see ourselves in a new light and to not feel so alone. As BackxWash says: “But when I’m feeling so cold, you don’t get me a coat/ Your touch gives me the warmth, you don’t leave me alone.” While, no, we shouldn’t need to depend on someone’s validation and idolize their opinions about us, having others’ reaffirmations that they love the parts of you that you dislike can help you in loving yourself. By someone telling you they like your body just how it is – without objectifying you, of course – despite all the flaws you point out to them, you may also start liking your body the way it is.

Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

The art of being single: You can still love someone else even if you don’t love yourself

I’m not going to come on here and tell you that you need to learn to love yourself before you could ever be loved or before you can love someone else, because that’s problematic for a few reasons. 

First, it harbours the idea that people aren’t worthy of love if they don’t love who they are by themselves. You don’t have to love yourself all the time or have all your life figured out to be loved; you can still be a work in progress.

Second, this ideology of loving yourself before you should ever be in a relationship with someone else is toxic. Loving yourself is a process; a lifelong journey. There are probably days where you think to yourself, “yeah, I’m pretty damn awesome.” There are also days where you might not like yourself very much, for whatever reason.

Both of these reasons and everything in between are totally normal and they’re all part of living with yourself every day for your entire life. Neither of these or anything in between should affect your ability to be in a relationship.

While there are these two problems with this ideology, there is also a silver lining. No, you don’t have to love yourself before you can love someone else, but it’s important to still learn to love yourself. The same effort you’re going to put into a relationship is also needed for yourself.

Whether it’s by taking time to yourself to really get to know you, or it’s going on solo dates to your favourite coffee shop, to a new movie that came out, to a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try; or even if it’s telling yourself reaffirming phrases everyday for the rest of your life. All of these are just some examples of how you can learn to love yourself. But these don’t, in any way, conclude the journey of self-love, nor do they mean you can’t still be in a relationship while you’re on it.

The whole point of this is that you can still (if you choose) be in a loving relationship with someone else even though you’re not in a loving relationship with yourself. You’re allowed to love and be loved by someone else while you’re trying and learning to love yourself. You’re allowed to be happy with someone else even if you’re not necessarily always happy with yourself. You’re not unworthy of feeling love or being in love if you don’t love yourself. The important thing is that you don’t give up on trying.

Student Life

Slice of Life: To-Do: Smell a rose

Rethinking what it means to set goals for ourselves

From late December to early January, the internet is riddled with memes generally belonging to four categories: empty bank accounts, being drunk from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2, cringey family stories, and, my personal favorite, all the ‘new year, new me’ bullshit. As if overriding our digestive systems with champagne and Jameson somehow flushes out all the toxicity from the previous year, leaving us with a blank-slate liver to tackle the new year with.

Honestly, New Year’s resolutions are pretty dumb. You can search the crap out of it: in January 2013, Forbes reported that only 8 per cent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions, and in January 2017, Business Insider reported that 80 per cent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. But why? Why is it so difficult to set a goal—a singular goal—and follow through with it?

About a year ago, The New York Times listed tips for making and keeping resolutions. Just a few days ago, The Guardian published an article that touched on similar points: make a personal plan, join a support community, focus on one goal at a time, find what motivates you, externalize your goals, etc. All good advice, sure, but these fluff articles still have a hollow ring to them.

There are so many issues with New Year’s resolutions (not the inherent concept of goal-setting), but mainly it’s the localization of goal-setting to one check-point window in the year and the pressure to make that window. Realistically, we change so much throughout the year, and it’s important to recognize how your goals evolve with you. On top of the pressure to make a New Year’s resolution, there’s also pressure to make your resolution fit into a cutback-box. For most, resolutions consist of goals like: spend less money, go out less, watch less Netflix, start going to [insert physical activity], read that book, eat less junk, pay off debt, etc.

But what if your resolution was stuff you should do more of? Laugh more. Go outside more. Call more friends. Have more dinners at home. Think you’d have an easier time sticking to those resolutions? Melbourne-based queer artist @frances_cannon posted “Frances Cannon’s Big 2019 List” on Jan. 2, and it may surprise you in all the best ways. Cannon lists goals such as: take a breath, let go of someone who hurt you, apply for something that scares you, tell a really good joke, call someone you haven’t called in a while, smell a rose and many more goals, both small and large. It’s time we start rethinking the wide range of what goals can be for each individual, and accepting that self love is both loving ourselves for accomplishing those goals, and loving ourselves for accepting when we simply cannot.

Feature graphic by @spooky_soda

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