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What is self love?

Self love is our superpower

You know the drill. The broken record: ‘Look after yourself’, ‘Be kind to others’, ‘Be kind to yourself’, ‘Be kind to your planet’. Core, fundamental beliefs we feel strongly about and care deeply for. But at what point do they become nothing more than words on a page, phrases on your screen? We need you to stop. And ask yourself right now: Do you love yourself?

Woman holding book that reads 'be the change' on the cover

It’s not about loving the last thing you bought. Loving the latest makeover trend you tried. The last thing you did well or the new relationship you’re in. These things lift you up, sure. But what about loving yourself? There are plenty of things outside of ourselves we want to believe make us feel good. Those things can be gratifying and fulfilling. What do people mean when they talk about self-love?

Here’s how we like to think about it: Self-love goes beyond feeling good about yourself. It’s bigger and deeper than anything you’ve ever felt before. It might even be uncomfortable. And that’s okay. Self-love is about appreciating yourself, it’s about self-acceptance and giving yourself permission to grow into who you really are.

Tommy

"Acknowledging and celebrating every facet of my being is an act of self love."

Tommy Dorfman

ACTOR & WRITER

At the beginning of Tommy’s self-love journey, self-doubt manifested in many ways. “At times it was paralyzing, it caused me to miss out on important events, miss out on connecting with family and friends. It also was the catalyst for a lot of self-hatred and negativity in my life.” Today, Tommy’s spirited confidence is present in all they do—whether it’s acting, directing or any other form of their vibrant creative expression. But for Tommy, pushing beyond self-doubt is simply part of their daily practice. To Tommy, that practice can be anything that reminds them they are worthy of this life.

Like Tommy, we believe that self-love is a continued practice of inner and outer mindfulness, acceptance and care. It’s interrupting that negative voice inside your head. It’s taking a long walk. It’s reading a book or lighting your favorite candle. It can be defined as anything that allows you to acknowledge your worth, and that makes you feel like the best version of you.

Why is self love important now?

Practicing self-love is more important today than ever. The world is experiencing seismic changes. We see it in our politics, in our environment, in our technology. We see it in conversations to do with gender bias, racial injustice, identity inequality. With everything resting on unsteady ground, it’s no surprise we’re experiencing a collective sense of self-doubt, questioning our agency and self-worth.

With disruption all around us, positive and negative change, isn’t it time we ask ourselves what we want, what kind of human beings we want to be and what kind of world we want to help shape?

Char

How can we become stronger in ourselves, firmer in our belief systems, if we don’t start from the inside-out? That means learning to accept ourselves first and learning to love ourselves next. We need to start by getting to know ourselves, by what we value in the world before we get to grips with what kind of agents of change we want to be. Let’s start by committing to a cause that comes closest to us. The ultimate action is one of self-love because it means growing into ourselves and accepting who we are, making us stronger and more engaged world citizens.sk ourselves what we want, what kind of human beings we want to be and what kind of world we want to help shape?

What we're taught to believe

The problem is, we’re taught early on to believe we’re not enough: not good enough, not pretty enough, not polite enough, not smart enough, not strong enough. The unfortunate truth is that women are often hit hardest when it comes to these societal and familial projections of feelings of inadequacy. We respond by striving for perfection, trying to achieve and succeed in every aspect of our lives or we withdraw, shut down and stay silent.

We see the unachievable pressures and standards we’re taught growing up and later hold onto them inside ourselves and without knowing it. We see it play out in our homes, at work, in our relationships. It is exactly this filtered, skewed, completely unachievable idea of being flawless that we want to challenge and push back on.

We live in an imperfect world where brands and businesses continue to profit from our insecurities by undermining our self-esteem and sense of beauty, and by feeding off of our collective self-doubt.

Most of us still believe what we have been taught – that we are not good enough as we are. This belief keeps us small. It’s something we can choose to hold onto or we can choose another path and look to self-love as our superpower, transforming self-doubt into real action, for ourselves and for those around us.

Larissa

"As an Afro-Indigenous woman and young mother, self love starts with understanding how and why I've been taught to self doubt."

Larissa Crawford

FOUNDER OF FUTURE ANCESTORS SERVICES

Larissa’s self-love journey began when she realized that self-doubt was harmful to her and those around her. “If I make myself smaller, if I think less of my culture, of my peoples...If I don't identify proudly as who I am, whose interests are served?” Through Larissa’s wide-angle lens, self-love is something that gives her the power to fight for a better world, while connecting her with ancestry, the land, and future generations.” Self-love means seeking to understand what holistically makes us us. What about our culture, what about our communities, what about the land we live on, what about our ancestors, what about me makes me me?”

Like Larissa, when you possess self-love, you have the power to take action and fight for impactful change. Larissa reminds us that the same self-love that grounds us can take us anywhere we want to go.

Self love is action

We believe that self-love has the power to be action. It’s about each and every one of us needing to take conscious action (big or small) and rising up together. A key part of acting collectively is about businesses playing their part and taking responsibility. As The Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick once said: “Never be seduced into believing it isn’t the role of business to tackle the big issues, because it absolutely is.”

The Body Shop store window

We’ve always challenged societal norms, encouraging empowerment and fuelling activism. Back in 1998, we took a stance on body positivity with our self-esteem campaign which featured a size 16 doll we called Ruby with the slogan: “There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do.” In 2021, we take a stance on self-doubt, on flipping norms, on pushing through personal and societal challenges.

As a beauty company founded by a woman, it is our fundamental belief that everyone has the right to be heard, to feel beautiful, feel seen, feel believed, feel respected and be loved. We’re seeing the groundswell of female activism like never before, but there is still so much unfinished business amongst women of all ages from all backgrounds and ethnicities still grossly underrepresented, with no voice and no agency.

When we asked change-maker and founder of @girlswillbeboys_ Char Ellesse how she understands self-love as action, she told us that her very existence is an act of defiance. She explains that: “As a woman, especially as a black woman, especially as a queer black woman, me existing is defiance. Period. I feel like the world was not built for people like me. It's just rebellious for me to do whatever I want to do and thrive whilst I'm doing it.”

Courageous Leading Lights like Char remind us that, with self-acceptance and self-love, real change is here. Go grab the positive action and give yourself the love you deserve because being enough means that each and every one of us can also be enough.

Sara

"Giving myself the grace to exist is an act of self love."

Sara Mora

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ACTIVIST, STORYTELLER AND POET

“My inner thoughts and my insecurities made me feel paralyzed. So many of my dreams and goals seemed further and further away the more I sat to overthink about the millions of reasons why I wasn't worthy.” As an undocumented immigrant, Sara recalls constant thoughts of self-doubt, mixed with overwhelming insecurities around body image. “When we do work on the inside, it reflects on the outside and allows us to love ourselves authentically.” Sara bravely rose from a place of invisibility and undocumentation to publicly share her story. She has since founded an organization that sheds light on underserved voices. Sara’s advice to anyone at the beginning of their journey, “You have every tool you need within yourself.”

Like Sara, we know that addressing our deepest fears and doubts makes us vulnerable. But with that vulnerability comes strength, an inner strength that you can only receive from yourself. Self-acceptance becomes self-love, and that will become your most powerful asset, one you can harness to change the world.

Nora McInerny

"Self-love is like all love: a process, a verb, the work of accepting and forgiving over and over again."

Nora McInerny

WRITER & STILL KICKIN FOUNDER

During Nora’s self-described “banner year”, she faced a series of tragic events that changed the course of her life. A miscarriage, her father’s death, and the loss of her husband due to brain cancer – all within a couple of months. She recalls not even possessing “self like'' at that time. But through Nora’s candid approach to grieving, writing, and being fully present, she continues to inspire others with her witty take on all the things and feelings that come with being human. “I think a part of self-love is realizing that we've always been worthy, we've always been worth it...and that where we are is not where we will always be.”

At The Body Shop, we know the self-love journey is different for everyone. Regardless of what sparked your journey, or even if your journey has not yet begun, know this; no matter where you are or what difficulties and circumstance life brings, it is a place where your self-love journey can begin.

1 MILLION ACTS OF SELF LOVE

How do we see this playing out? What can we do, massive or discrete, familiar or out of our comfort zone, to help collectively rise up through the power of self-love?

Illustration of people holding a pink heart

With your help and the other fearless people who will rise up alongside us, we want to help inspire 1 million acts of self-love across the globe in 1 year. Because if we start, no matter how small, each of us can breed self-love within us, encourage self-love to grow amongst us all and witness a better world for everyone. No status quo flipping, self-doubt challenging story is too small or quiet to share.

We can all learn from fitness coach and activist Sophie Butler when she talks about how becoming disabled can happen in a moment and how a self-love journey lasts a lifetime. In her own words, self-love is “at its most powerful when it's in a collective formation. And when we can go out into the world and be bold and empowered, we can then help raise everyone else up.”

Let’s follow Sophie’s lead as we go out into the world together. Know that this is the start of our journey. When we are united by self-love, when we tap into our miraculous self-love superpower, we will be unstoppable.

Sophie Butler

"When we go out into the world bold and empowered, we raise everyone else.”

Sophie Butler

FITNESS COACH & ACTIVIST