Love Bites: Self-Love Selling Out

This month's columnist explores the crisis of commodified self-love

Article by Funmi Lijadu | 25 Nov 2021
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I’m bored of hearing about self-love. Completely burnt out. The shifting goalposts that define the concept means that time and time again, true self-appreciation keeps slipping from my grip.

Seeing Instagram ads about a new product that will make me love myself is sickening. Even hearing the term gives me the same sinking feeling that I got back in 2013 when the sickly-sweet optimism of Pharrell’s song Happy went viral.

The act of loving yourself is no longer a state of mind, but a status symbol that can be achieved with enough cash, a version of self-love that one must flaunt, prove and share online. And it begs the question – what would we want and who would we be if nobody was watching?

But the crisis of self-love is not just about social media. It’s about a world where we are sold the lofty heights of affluence through influencers' lifestyles, yet face tax increases, rent hikes and a culture of overworking ourselves.

There’s no guide to loving yourself during what feels like the end of the world. Maybe cultivating a sense of acceptance is the right start. But healthy self-image takes a village, and most of our villages are poisoned with elaborate façades, both online and offline.

So, where does that leave us now? In an age when nurturing yourself is commodified, the only option is to reimagine ways of appreciating ourselves that can’t be sold back to us. The secret may lie in ancestral histories, and the stories and lessons that the past may hold. It’s hard to imagine giving up a world of convenience for one that’s slower and less efficient, but since the world as it is doesn’t seem to be making many of us happy, I’d be willing to educate myself and take that risk.