Embracing Narcissism (Or Not)

Like a lot of women, I’ve been battling self-hate for what feels like my entire life. Whether it’s my body, my clothes, my attitude, or my intelligence, I constantly feel sub-par and inadequate and like everyone knows it. On top of that, I’m a perfectionist, so embracing my flaws has never really been a viable option. I underestimate myself in everything I do, and the thought of loving myself grosses me out. I am the anti-narcissist.

As a feminist, it’s especially hard for me to reconcile my feelings of self-loathing with my fuck-societal-standards-mentality. I know that when I scrutinize my weight or frown at my complexion in the mirror I’m falling victim to the sexist expectations of femininity that are perpetuated by the media and society in general. Sometimes I hate myself for being a bad feminist because of my self-hate. It’s a vicious cycle.

While I believe that acknowledging the conflict between my self-hate and feminism is a step in the right direction, self-acceptance is my ultimate goal. That’s why I’ve been really fascinated with the fat acceptance movement, specifically its effect on global communities of women via Tumblr and LiveJournal. I was familiar with the concept behind the movement for years before I watched The Fat Body (In)visible and started reading some of the blogs of the women who made/are featured in the documentary. Following Jessica, Margitte, Majestic, and other fat acceptance bloggers Tumblr has really shaped my views on the movement because their blogs illustrate fat acceptance in action. They prove that accepting and appreciating bodies of all sizes isn’t as ridiculous as society, science, and the media have made it seem. These blogs have also created communities of readers and activists alike who participate in a constantly-evolving dialogue about bodies. I think it’s safe to say that these blogs have helped numerous girls struggling with eating disorders and self-hate, as well as helped to further the fat acceptance movement as a whole.
Despite my gratitude for these bloggers and the movement itself, I can’t get behind the idea of self-love fully due to my anti-narcissist attitude. You don’t have to be terribly perceptive in order to catch-on to the self-centered undertones of the blogs I listed above. It seems like in order to love your body, you need to be obsessed with yourself and use the word “I” at least in every sentence. I can’t get behind that. Why can’t we maintain a consciousness and respect for ourselves as well as other people? What if my self-love starts with accepting other people first and foremost? After all, Narcissus, the boy who dies after falling in love with his image reflected in a pool, isn’t the only person who is harmed by his narcissism. In Ovid’s story, the nymph Echo pines for Narcissus in vain because he is too occupied with his own image to notice her.