SURGERY, AESTHETICS AND SELF LOVE
In July myself and Natali Kelly hosted a self love evening at her flagship clinic in London where we discussed all things body dysmorphia, body confidence, self love, and procedures. You might be wondering, how does self love and body dysmorphia fit into aesthetic treatments and practices - isn’t it the opposite? During the workshop, I explained to our guests about how to recognise if you are getting treatments or changing your appearance for the ‘wrong’ reasons which generally come from a place of low self esteem vs a place of empowerment. There are a few signs you can look out for which I will discuss further throughout this blog.
The online self development community tells us that we need to learn to love and accept our flaws and then we will have self-love, but I do not wholeheartedly agree with that which is why I wanted to put this together in a blog so I could help women to understand how the two work together should they want them too.
So let’s start by understanding what self love actually is? Now in my professional and personal opinion, I believe self love is something that we must actively work on cultivating, especially as a woman in the modern world. For most of you reading this, you probably grew up around mothers, sisters, friends, and aunties who did not use the most positive language towards their face/bodies, which was reinforced by the mass media, we are only now in the past five or so years becoming more aware of terms such as self love and self acceptance, and as amazing as that is, it doesn’t erase those years of our subconscious minds being penetrated by unrealistic body standards. So I believe it’s incredibly unfair to expect women to just “have some self love” and expect that they automatically become accepting of the things they perhaps do not like about themselves, or things they’ve been brainwashed into believing are ‘wrong’ or ‘too big’ ‘too small’.
For me, I believe self love isn’t restricted or even related to how we look, I believe we can have self love AND want to change/tweak things about our appearance, I also think we can be comfortable in our skin and still lack self love. Everything (even opposites) can co-exist.
Self love for me is about having a strong moral compass, established core values that I live in alignment with, staying true to myself, being authentic, living with integrity, being kind and compassionate towards myself, being accepting of my mistakes and open to learning. It is also both accepting what I cannot change, and also accepting that there may be things I need to change in order to have more self love, again that’s not limited to appearance, and is inclusive of personality traits, characteristics, behaviours/actions so on and so forth.
So where does cosmetic surgery or aesthetic procedures fit into a self-love journey?
I believe that when we do the inner work and curate our self love out of moral compass/ core values etc, we naturally put less focus on our appearance. When we raise our self worth, through healing and reprogramming our belief systems, we feel less inclined to do things for others (e.g. change our appearance). We feel less likely to have procedures done so that we are ‘deemed more attractive for a potential partner’ or ‘because everyone else has it done’, we feel more confident and rooted in ourselves that we make the decisions for us and us alone. This perspective allows us to be more intentional about any tweaks we wish to make to our appearance. Rewind to a time when I had low self worth and an absence of self love, I would allow my appearance to be dictated based on what others around me did, such as having more lip filler than what suited my natural features, wore clothes that I thought would allow me to ‘fit in’, want to change my appearance to piss my ex partner off. THIS is when treatments and procedures are problematic, because you are no longer doing them for yourself but for the approval or acceptance of others. It is crucial to note, that changing things about our appearance doesn’t equate to having self love or finding the person of your dreams, we must have self love first and foremost and then any changes/tweaks we have are simply additional extra and you have them for you and you alone.
If you are someone who finds themselves having treatments/procedures or surgeries and soon thinking “what’s next” or “what else do I need to change” - this would support the notion that the treatments are not the answer and there is a deeper rooted issue to address. I’m not saying we need to live in a world where we never change anything about our appearance, it’s simply about empowering yourself by knowing what is truly for you from a holistic stance point vs a place of low self worth.
I think the biggest thing for people to understand is that there is zero shame in changing anything about ourselves if it makes us feel a fraction more confident, despite what people around you or online might tell you, IF you feel more confident having some botox, or even a cosmetic procedure then go for it, if you feel more confident having your hair done regularly, go for it, if you feel more confident dressing a certain way GO FOR IT.
When we do things FOR ourselves, that naturally boosts our confidence. I truly believe life is too short to not do the things we want to do - whether that’s having an aesthetic treatment such as botox or some lip filler or living a life that others struggle to understand. It’s down to you to understand whether you’re doing it for the right reasons, to enhance your natural beauty, perhaps freshen your face up a little if you’ve been feeling/looking tired lately or simply to express yourself in a way that makes you happy.
You can BOTH love yourself wholeheartedly AND have treatments/surgery done and anyone who shames you or tells you that’s not the case, isn’t very happy within themselves and is projecting their insecurities onto you.
Here is to doing whatever we want, with our bodies, as long as it makes YOU happy.