Asalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullah,
My loves, I hope you are all doing well.
The world we live in today carries a particular standard that seems to subconsciously evolve into this unspoken rule; that we must acquiesce into a mold that defines what is beautiful. In previous articles I mentioned how much of the evolution of beauty standards; carries its standards from the effects of colonialism. Everything you think, how you choose to talk, carry yourself, and how you choose to portray your image revolves is influenced by this colonial reality. It is not your fault, you were however born at a time where this influence has already taken place, and gain a firm grip in the commercial world we are exposed to day in and day out.
As a child, perhaps you distinctly remember watching those barbie commercials, and channel after channel depicted this glamorous lifestyle of Barbie and Ken. You never saw the commercialized side of your own ethnic background. You were constantly exposed to programs that literally presented the same manifestation of what is deemed beautiful, but none of them looked like you. Okay, no bigie… you were too young to think too deeply into it. But, what you should know today, is that psychologically being exposed to the same exact content over and over produces a sense of familiarity and acceptance in a young child’s mind.
And so subconsciously, you were taking in these innocent adverts, commercials, and shows – and it was forming your world view. What was beautified for you, was the lavish and glamorous lifestyle of one character, over and over ; and its only natural that you would register that you wanted to be just like her. No big deal, nothing wrong with that… but then this subconscious thought process develops and it causes you to learn to differentiate between what you see as an ideal and what is not. That’s where the internal mind becomes captivated by what it should see as beautiful and what is not.
What parents and many youth don’t process ahead of time, is the power of the visual; especially for a child. Take a flower for example; it needs sunlight, water, good soil, and environmental weather safe enough for it to thrive. The nature of this world, with regards to the mind of children is just the same. You don’t see it, we don’t see it… but we are affected by our environments, our conversations, the visuals we see through our phones, our laptops, movies, and what we hear even at a subconscious level. The environment of a flower determines its growth or its decay. Your environment and your surroundings determines your spiritual growth as Muslims, or the ultimate decay of your soul.
And so, it makes sense that this powerful time, enveloped within the scheme of technology; that we are living in, has affected the way that you choose to think about yourself and the world around you.
I know you know, exactly what I mean. What you have been taught is beautiful, is not made by or due to your own mental capacity – and, so what you have to do, after learning of this post colonial and environmental reality we are in.. is how to unlearn it all.
You have to unlearn the ideal and standards that has been cooking and brewing in your mind for so long, and escape the captivation of what is deemed glamorous – and let it be something that you decide on your own. The most powerful way in which you can win in this sense is by completely, fully, and wholeheartedly accepting and loving yourself. And this can only happen, when you know who you are.
There is only One being who knows us, better than we know ourselves. That is, Allah. And so to know Allah, is to better know yourself. I know it is cliche, but to reconnect with Him, through His message is the first step. The history of who you are and all the basics start there. So, make it a mission to incorporate Allah into your daily life – through the obligations he has commanded, and enjoying/enjoining the extra duties that would bring you closer.
Second. Know this – your body is an envelope to your soul; it will one day be gone and decay and becoming nothing but dust. Your soul that is within you, is eternal and that is what you will take to Al-Akhira – the last life. This soul, is who you are. So this means, this envelope, your body, is a gift from Allah to your soul.
How will you choose to handle this gift? Will you cripple this gift, with negative self talk and the seduction of inadequacy that you created within your own imagination, due to this unfortunate colonial mindset — or will you choose to love this gift, appreciate it wholeheartedly, and realize it is from Allah, and you have no choice but to love it.
When you see this from the perspective of this reality, your heart will break at all those times that you didn’t appreciate the gift of your, being. Why ? Why do you think you are not good enough? Why do you think that you are not worth it ? Why do you think that you are not beautiful ?
Be careful, how you talk to yourself – you are listening. The gift that Allah has given you, your heart is listening, your mind is taking it all in. They tell you to exercise, and eat well and you will be healthy. But, what you say to yourself is the ultimate decision of that factor.
The standards that revolves around todays society, of beauty, are so dangerous. I hope that many wake up and see this, before they realize it all too late. Your seconds, hours, and minutes, are yours and valuable – you will never get them back. Spend them, appreciating yourself and all that you are.
It took me so long to realize this too. You are not alone in this journey of self reflection, and achieving your higher self.
Lastly. Stop comparing yourself. Stop that. The easiest way to stop doing this toxic, useless act… is by realizing we live in a world where everyone wants to be the next person, or have what the next one has. Heck… there’s probably someone out there who wants to be you. So… realize that others see what you don’t see about yourself. And learn to self assess the beautiful and good things about you more and more. That way, you have no time to compare yourself.
Things that you should keep in mind, you can skim through this quickly….
- Become mindful. People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel and want. They are mindful of who they are and act on this knowledge, rather than on what others want for them.
- Act on what you need rather than what you want. You love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead.
- Practice good self-care. You will love yourself more, when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, like sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy and healthy social interactions.
- Set boundaries. You’ll love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, love, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally and spiritually, or express poorly who you are.
- Protect yourself. Bring the right people into your life. Suggestion to you here: Get rid of them toxic ones! There isn’t enough time in your life to waste on people who want to take away the shine on your face that says, “I genuinely love myself and life”. You will love and respect yourself more.
- Forgive yourself. We humans can be so hard on ourselves. The downside of taking responsibility for our actions is punishing ourselves too much for mistakes in learning and growing. You have to accept your human-ness (the fact that you are not perfect), before you can truly love yourself. Practice being less hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Remember, there are no failures, if you have learned and grown from your mistakes; there are only lessons learned.
- Live intentionally. You will accept and love yourself more, whatever is happening in your life, when you live with purpose and design. Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear to you. If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention, and feel good about yourself when you succeed in this purpose. You will love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do. You need to establish your living intentions, to do this.
Self love is a journey, a beautiful one at that… but you decide where it will be a journey that’s worthwhile or one that remains rocky, today. Promise yourself that you will respect the gift of your life. My God, you are so special you don’t even see it! Really, hug yourself and be happy with the gift that Allah has given to your soul… your body. He has given it to you and you haven’t even asked…. imagine what other greatness He has in store for you in this life and the next. Keep your head up, until next…..blog post.