Irony: Thoughts on the Pursuit of Self-Love
Posted by Tee in FGG Guests
A guest post by author and speaker Joan Landis

Esteem is defined, “to hold something as valuable with high regard or great respect.” Therefore, self-esteem would mean to hold oneself in that same light or frame of mind. In this society, however, from the second we are born, we are bombarded with images and statements that teach us to dislike us. Society continuously inundates us with messages that we need to be “fixed” in some way. Our bodies are too big, our breasts are too small. We need a nose job or fuller lips. Our hair is the wrong color. Our teeth are not white enough. Our hips are too wide, our butts are too flat. We end up feeling emotionally obligated to spend our money on things that make us more attractive.

But no matter what products we buy, programs we follow, or procedures we have done to improve the way we look, there will always be an advertisement waiting to tell us about something else we need to change. Our culture is set up this way, with auto-reminders that we should never be satisfied with who we are and what we look like.

In that environment, it's difficult to hold ourselves in high regard. Let's face it: self-esteem is bad for business. If I love myself as I am, in the moment, with all of my faults and imperfections (real or imagined), there is no reason for me to whip out my wallet in pursuit of product after self-enhancing product. So the market is heavily invested in making sure we don't get there.

The ironic part is that genuine self love and self esteem is what draws people to us. It's what makes us most attractive at our core. Ladies, we're doing something wrong.

If we want to be truly loved for who we are, we need to be that person unapologetically. If we want to light up a room when we walk in, we need to learn to shine from the inside out. When we love ourselves in the moment, we're contagious. People become enamored with subtle signals of self-confidence, regardless of what we look like superficially. And when we love ourselves, we naturally build others up, and they naturally want to be closer to us. When we don't, we instead want to tear them down (and often do)...and we alienate them instead. No amount of expensive skin care products or hot outfits will change those things. But still, we fool ourselves.

I have spent many years changing the daily tapes in my head that tell me I am not good enough. No, I’m not perfect and have certainly made my share of mistakes and bad decisions. That doesn't mean I'm worthless and unlovable, it means I'm human. Each of us is on a journey, and part of that journey’s purpose is to learn that we are good people; beautiful just as we are. But if we want others to know it, too, we need to believe it with our entire being. Once we do, then we can take an objective, educated look at ourselves, inside and out, and decide what we'd like to be different. How WE, not the media, not society, not our culture, not our parents, our lovers, our friends, our neighbors, but WE... want to improve our health, fitness, looks or anything else in our lives.

This is key, because self-sabotage happens when we try to change in order to be worthy of love, from ourselves or anyone else, because from that skewed point of view, how can we feel worthy of the investment we're making in ourselves?

Even though I weigh 411 pounds — morbid, society calls it — I love me. I have weighed far less in the past, and I have also weighed more. Yet I am vibrant, beautiful, sexy, funny, loving, caring, honest, trustworthy, but very humble about who I am and grateful for what I have been given. Am I working on changing some things about me? Yes I am. But I've learned to stop letting the rest of the world decide what those changes should be. After 40 years, I've finally embraced that I deserve a happily-ever-after despite my challenges and imperfections. I know who I am, where I've come from and where I'm going. I am valuable. I hold myself in high regard and with great respect, despite all the messages coming at me to the contrary. In my life, this has made all the difference. I hope it will in yours, too.

-- Joan

Joan Landis has struggled with life-long obesity, and has spent most of her adult years focusing on helping others reach a place of self-love and respect. Joan is a motivational speaker, author of the book, Oh My God, She's Huge!, and has a B.A. in Psychology from Lebanon Valley College. To learn more about Joan and her work, visit