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Why Do We Hate Ourselves?

I don’t know why, but I’ve been noticing a lot more than usual how negative women are about their bodies. I don’t think this is because I’ve started hanging around particularly negative people lately, I think it’s more to do with the fact that for whatever reason I have begun to notice it, where before I must have ignored it. After all, it’s endemic. If you stop and pay attention for that specifically you’ll start to hear women in the coffee shop, the elevator, the bathroom (especially the bathroom), etc. talk about how much they HATE some part of their body. Women hate their curly hair, their straight hair, their big noses, their small teeth, their fat ankles, their thick thighs, their non-existent butts, the wrinkles on their forehead, mouth, eyes, hands etc., etc., etc. I truly believe that if you listen long enough to enough women you will hear that there is at least one woman out there that hates every single part of the female body. I honestly don’t think there is a body part that will escape scrutiny, and that makes me sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely complained about my own body. For example, my ears don’t match. Seriously, they look completely different, like they’re from two totally different people. How does that even happen? As far as I know, ears are supposed to be a matched set, emphasis on matched! (Also, side note, do you have any idea how hard it is to take pictures of your own ears?)

Right Ear

Left ear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also have insanely long and skinny toes. They’ve been called everything from prehensile to gross, thank you to my sister for that one. Not to mention my feet are so narrow it’s impossible to find shoes that fit, so I always have redness or some sort of blister on my pinky toes that is impossible to hide when wearing sandals and always draws notice.

Toes

 

That being said, I don’t hate those things about myself. They are part of what make-up the quirky package that is Kat Michels, so how can I hate a part without eventually hating the whole? Let me say that again. How can you hate a part of yourself, without it eventually creeping in and causing a hatred of your whole self? Hate is an insidious thing, and if you give it purchase anywhere, it will eventually have purchase everywhere. So every time I hear a woman say that she hates some aspect of her appearance, it breaks my heart a little bit, because each utterance and each thought is a hammer blow on the chisel lodged in that woman’s self-worth. We as women determine our own self-worth, it comes from inside us. So every time we disparage ourselves, it gets chipped away a little bit.

I know that a lot of people will argue that they don’t actually ‘hate’ whatever body part it was that they mentioned. To them I ask, why do you say you do then? What do you actually mean if you don’t ‘hate’ it? Do you not like it, or do you wish it was different? How is that better? Why do we spend so much time fixating on the things that we don’t like? Especially things about our physical body that can’t be changed! How can you hate the wrinkles on your forehead? They are proof that you have gotten to spend time out in the sun – some of it hopefully in leisure – they are often times proof that you have smiled, sometimes they are proof that you were gravely ill, but were able to pull through, and they are irrevocable proof that you have lived long enough to get wrinkles. That is a privilege that is denied to so many, that I can’t understand where the hate comes from.

Wrinkles

A similar argument can be made for any other body part that women hate, but better yet, let’s stop justifying things based on other people’s misfortunes. Let’s turn the focus on ourselves. Each and every body part, each aspect of our appearance makes up part of who we are. Yes, the total is greater than the sum of its parts, but the parts matter too. Not only do they matter, but how we talk about them to ourselves and to others matters. I truly believe that we need to learn to not only be nicer, but be more positive to ourselves. Instead of fixating on what we hate, we should be fixating on what we love, no matter how small. I’m not saying that you have to love each and every part of your body. That is asking way too much. But I have a feeling that if you shift your focus to the parts of you that you love, you’ll soon discover that those other parts of you all of a sudden don’t matter so much anymore. Because like hate, if you give love a place to roost, it will take over the whole damn place. And to me, that doesn’t sound too bad.

 

**It was brought to my attention that I should mention that I have not always felt this way or had this kind of confidence when it comes to my body. I spent all of middle and high school wishing that I could walk around with a paper bag over my head because my acne made me feel like I was hideous and gross. Even when I got to college and the acne was gone, I still didn’t have anything nice or complimentary to say about myself or my appearance. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties, with the guidance of a therapist and several years of persistent work to change my inner monologue, that I made it to where I am today.

  • Annie Lavinsky

    This is a lovely blog, Kat. This touches on a serious issue. Our a skewed view of our own bodies, fed by photoshop and unrealistic body image created by the media, leads to more serious issues like body-dismorphia, bolemia, and anorexia. Love starts with us…to our daughters and friends. We have to be pro-active and break the cycle.

  • :Donna Marie

    I think you’re one of the minority that’s lucky enough to feel comfortable enough in one’s own skin and that’s wonderful 🙂 It’s not easy, in a world in which physical attributes are held SO high, above many things, certainly about women through men’s eyes, to accept what’s less than “attractive,” etc. It’s when self-loathing is to an extreme that it becomes even more tragic, such as Annie pointed out.

    • katmichels

      I guess I should have mentioned in the blog that I have not always felt this way. I spent all of middle and high school wishing that I could walk around with a paper bag over my head because my acne made me feel like I was hideous and gross. Even when I got to college and the acne was gone, I still didn’t have anything nice or complimentary to say about myself or my appearance. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties, with the guidance of a therapist and several years of persistent work to change my inner monologue, that I made it to where I am today.

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  • Ceunei

    I finally got myself back. I lost me at age eight due to intense bullying by family, religion, and culture. As it turns out the ugly image I used to see reflected back to me in the mirror, was actually considered “too pretty,” and let me tell you, the USA really isn’t a good place to raise really pretty girls. Too pretty girls are to be scapegoated and outcast. But, instead of realizing the problem was not me, I hated me and my body because I was raised in a household where one didn’t talk to one’s parents, but one sure got yelled at and set up to be spanked for any sort of stupid made up reason by one’s parents. I learned the “Don’t talk Don’t think Don’t feel” mantra quite quickly.

    So, I picked up all sorts of ways to punish myself, and I did. I hit myself, I starved myself, I binged, I purged, I abused alcohol, I popped imaginary pimples (the acne never hit me in High School, but I sure do have it now during perimenopause) and left scars on my face from digging, and then I took jobs so hard on my body, I live with the injuries still, to this day, seventeen years later. I took jobs I hoped would kill me, then I’d drive around exhausted after work hoping someone would hit my car for me and kill me, too.

    I am so sad for myself back then. I was taught I’d made a mistake by being born a girl, and so many families and religions and cultures rely on this to quell their women, we end up hating ourselves because how on earth could anyone that we believe loved us be hated for what they did to us, instead?

    There is a saying: Manacle the women, control the people. And in my country known now as Trump USA Version 1.0, the women are manacled with self hatred which they take out on other women. (Most of us are taught this self hatred by our mothers and grandmothers.) Trump brought in 53% of the female vote despite ample evidence he is a very nasty man when no one but one other woman he is not married to is around, indeed, several of the seventy-five lawsuits he will be contending with during his show as President regard his freedoms with women, but, guess what? He still got 53% of the votes from women.

    Women are very hard hit when it turns out they were raised by mothers that hate or don’t love them, too. But I can go on about this, forever.

    Oh, and I was very lucky to discover, one kelp pill a day put my eating disorder in remission, and it also took away the ugly face I saw looking at me in the mirror, and it also quelled the vision of the huge fat white whale of a body I thought I had. The kelp allows me to see myself in a disassociated way, now, because the paths to self hatred and self abuse are only recently closed, and when I look back at the pictures of me all the years I thought I was a fat ugly whale, I really have to wonder: What was I thinking?

    The kelp is only part of the picture, however, I’ve been doing soul work which essentially involves going back and feeling all the feelings one thought one could not as a child, and I finally managed to get rid of the rage in my soul I’ve had since age 15 when I decided not to pull the trigger on the pistol I had pressed to my forehead (I have regretted the decision not to suicide at age 15 many times since, that is how long and hard I hated myself), and now I’m working on rooting out the decades of sadness the way my parents raised me planted. Four decades of sadness is a lot of sadness to work through.

    I was a bit worried when Trump became President, however. I had a total backfall, and almost killed myself due to the horrible betrayal I felt when the USA elected an abusive nasty male for its next President. Turns out, the USA isn’t a really great place to raise little girls, and hasn’t been for generations. Seriously, many of us USA females may have to consider returning to the lands of our immigrant foreparents if the USA continues to encourage itself to treat its girls so recklessly. Some of my bloodlines come from places that have improved themselves into much better caring cultures than the current USA, and these bloodlines are crying in my soul to get the hell out of the USA as I have a little girl to raise, too.

    Well, I’m stuck here, but I can set it up so my little girl won’t be. =)