• As a little girl, and maybe it was because I was a girl, I was often told that I was prideful. I was told this by my very devout Catholic grandmother who often saw my outbursts of self-love as too much for such a young girl. Even though I was only 6, I was being taught that saying I was pretty was akin to sin.

    As I grew up to around age 12 or so I went through a very intense bout of body dysphoria. I was going through puberty, but my growth was slow. I was not a quick growing weed; I was a writhing acorn trying to germinate into a oak tree. I did not grow breasts over night or have glowy, goddess like skin. In fact I looked nothing like all the white, blonde haired girls in my class or on my sports teams. I was ethnic, dark haired, and muscly from basketball and track. I looked at the girls around me and could not understand why I wasn’t beautiful like they were. I had this idea in my head that starting my period would mean that I would grow huge tits, have curves, and my butt would get bigger(if that was even possible); however, this did not happen for me. Because of this lack of body growth combined with a Caucasian standard of beauty, I looked in the mirror and became confused at what I saw. I hated me. I hated my looks. I hated, hated, hated. My sins of pride as a child had come to haunt me as a teen.

    Moving away from a predominantly white neighborhood to a booming Mexican- American community helped save me from myself. I saw wonder in body hair, dark skin, and thick, black hair. I also began to dress in the most shocking ways that I could to disrupt the peace. I drank beer and smoked weed. I was no longer concerned with the strangling ideas of conformity. I worshipped punk Queens and began to realize I did not care what others thought me. All of this, however, could not save me from the lingering thoughts of my own self-loathing. My path to child like self-love was a long walk that would eventually make me feel as though I was being crucified.

    Skipping ahead to my late teens I was a hippie who could not even be bothered to shower much less put on make-up or do my hair. I wore tie-dye T-shirts and ripped, dirty jeans. I smoked too much pot and ate too much food. I was always at a party or hosting one and was constantly surrounded by friends. During these years is when I did my most inner growth. I was more concerned with how wonderful the rain sounded on the cement or when I was going to score my next pint of vodka. My looks mattered nothing to me and this for some reason shook a lot of people to their core. I would not necessarily say I was in love with myself, but I wouldn’t say I wasn’t either. I heard what people thought of me. I was dirty, weird looking, I looked boyish. As I said I had other important things to worry about so these trivial opinions didn’t bother me, but it bothered other people. ‘Oh, honey, don’t worry about what other people say, you’re beautiful.’ Okay, thanks. These compliments were good. They were sincere. They were someone else’s opinion on a something that was completely subjective. These comments were okay because I didn’t say them. They were okay because someone else noticed my physical beauty. These weren’t signals of sinful ‘pride’.

    I had recently turned twenty when I looked into the mirror and liked what I saw. I had my hair down and I was standing in front of a foggy mirror. I just stared at my face. I liked my freckles splattered on my plump cheeks. I loved my lips and eyebrows. I watched my eyes light up and I wanted to hug myself. I never let go of that feeling. I started to experiment with make-up and bought a whole new wardrobe. I began to wear heels and check myself out in windows as I walked by.

    “You’re hot.”

    “Thanks, I know.”

    “Wow, no need to be a b***h about it.”

    This was a pivotal moment in my feelings for self-love. I could not comprehend what was just said to me. Had I said it in a tone? Maybe I said something wrong. Was it because I didn’t blush and fawn all over the speaker? And then an instant I was back in my grandma’s lap being told I shouldn’t say I was pretty too much or it would go to my head.

    I shook my head and walked away. Now that I’m twenty two I realize that loving yourself is okay as long as you can rationalize what it is about yourself that you love. You can’t love yourself for no reason. You have to love yourself based on subjective traits that others can also easily identify, but you mustn’t agree out loud or you have sinned. I think this is bullshit. I do not value my self-worth on the ever changing ideals of what other’s think. This is the same for my physical beauty. I love myself. Plain and simple. I am not just beautiful because others can see the beauty, too. I am also not prideful because I vocally, mentally, or spiritually agree with another persons physical assessment of my body. I work hard to love myself and I refuse to not take credit when credit is do. If I look hot you best believe that I already know that. I love myself and I’m not going to rationalize why I do. I’m not going to say things like “I love myself because…” I love myself and it’s as simple as that ❤ And so sorry, Grandma, your little girl grew up to be more sinful than you.