Self-Love as Privilege

Preface: This post is a bit of a wander through my thought fields. I’m not an academic feminist, as in I don’t have any formal education in feminism. While I’m privileged to have a BA in English, I’ve never taken a course in critical thinking. I’m just spit-balling here (one of my favorite “Dodgeball” quotes), and I’m guessing someone with more academic education in -isms could do a much better job of saying all of what I’m about to say. Hell, maybe they already have and I just haven’t stumbled across it yet.

You can choose not to hate yourself.

In the context of the society we live in, self-love is a form of privilege, maybe just another aspect of thin privilege.

The oppression of fat people, including cultural fatphobia and systemic anti-fat discrimination, conditions fat people to self-loathing. That isn’t to say self-loathing is unique to fat people, but that the way it’s expected of us is unique. Maybe not being conditioned to self-loathing is privilege. It’s perhaps unfair to say that not being conditioned to self-loathing is equivalent to being taught or conditioned to self-love.

Self-love being marketed as though it’s the be-all, end-all is problematic. Self-love can mitigate the personal effects of oppression, but self-love cannot remedy oppression itself. I don’t mean to downplay the value of self-love, but I do want to push back against the pressure that marginalized people can feel to love themselves out of oppression. All the self-love in the world won’t make oppression disappear.

The message of self-love can also be classist in that it tends to be sold in self-help books, seminars, retreats, which are less readily accessible to those with fewer means.

It’s not on the oppressed and marginalized to love themselves out of their oppression and marginalization, though self-help might have us think otherwise. Oppression and marginalization may make self-love seem out of reach, and maybe it is for some people. Maybe it’s the wrong ask while we’re still living with systemic oppression.

Maybe it’s enough to choose not to hate yourself.


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