Self Care and Self Love

how you see yourself body positive

You know how, when you’re feeling kinda wretched about the current state of your bod, you tend to lose interest in shopping? And eventually, shopping apathy morphs into diminished interest in clothes? And sometimes THAT indifference becomes an inability to engage in basic grooming?

It’s a fun little cycle, and we’ve all been there. Usually, a girl’s gotta hit bottom to shake loose body blues this severe: A candid party photo of your unkempt self that gives you shivers, a morning weigh-in that elicits a gasp of dismay, a cutting comment from a coworker, or something equally traumatic usually throws our long-rusted self-care gears in the opposite direction.

Now, consider this: What if you forced it? What if – on those days when you looked in the mirror and saw Grendel – you made yourself slip on your favorite clothes and take a few extra steps in your grooming routine? Would it help or hurt how you felt about your body and face and overall self?

We’ve already established that the cycle of self-loathing is inextricably linked to the cycle of self-neglect: Feel bad, look bad, feel worse, look worse, and on and on. But I maintain that a cycle of self-love can be perpetuated by a cycle of self-care. If you feel awful about how you look and allow yourself to LOOK as awful as you feel, you spiral down. But if you feel awful about how you look and work against that negativity – beautifying yourself with the tools you have at hand – you spiral up.

It’s not always possible, especially if grief, illness, or depression are in the mix. There are quite a few life factors that can make switching from comforting to dressy clothes feel utterly impossible and be completely unnecessary. But sometimes it works. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes that bit of energy you put toward adorning yourself in a way that pleases your eye can make a real difference

And when you put effort into your appearance, you may be less likely to hide from mirrors and withdraw from social situations. When you put effort into your appearance, you may receive more compliments – sources of external feedback that can encourage you to CONTINUE putting effort into your appearance. When you put effort into your appearance, you don’t wallow, you move.

Caring about how you present your physical self to the world makes you more present in your body. Presence in your body feeds itself, creating more care. The cycle of self-care feeding self-love creating more self-care allows you to broadcast a profile of self-respect and power. It reminds you that – at least some of the time – you can control how you feel about yourself. And that’s powerful good stuff.

Personal style can be used as a tool to cultivate self-care and reflect self-respect. No matter how tall you are or where you carry the most jiggle, you can learn to highlight what you love about your figure. You can utilize your natural, unique beauty to reflect your undeniably amazing self outward to the observing world. And when you do, you kick-start the machinery of self-love.

You can choose your cycle. Choose up.

Image source

Originally posted 2009-03-18 06:04:00.

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38 Responses to “Self Care and Self Love”

  1. Keeg's Mom

    Right on, sistah! It’s SO easy to feel bad, esp. with a few extra pounds or bad hair days or what have you. Easy peasy. It’s more work to NOT go there. I’m being more … mindful of that these days, as a long, white winter comes to an end and I feel I’m coming out of hibernation. An hour long walk in the brisk outdoors yesterday did wonders.

    So will some shopping this weekend.

  2. ohhoneyno

    oh how well do i know this feeling of self-loathing; the last time i had it my mother had made a cutting remark about the amount of weight i’d gained. it took me days to snap out of it. and you’re right – i literally just did not care how i looked at that point, and even now i still ask the BF for reassurance that i still look okay every once in a while.

    how i wish i’d had someone to give me the advice you’re giving us now! thank you sal.

  3. Courtney

    Preach! Funny that Capessa is gone … I found your blog originally by stumbling onto Look and Feel. I read bits and pieces of this post and the one after it (about old clothes being self torture devices) to my husband, and he decided your blog should be required reading for all women 🙂


    Sal, life is quite a cycle…currently I’m in the ‘down’ valley mode…withdrawing from social situations yet again. You are right, it reflects on my appearance! I’m climbing up the mountain as we speak, the valley sucks!!! Thanks f this post pretty lady!

  5. Sal

    Courtney: You (and your hubby) totally made my day. Glad you stuck around, post-Capessa!

  6. kittyscreations

    I have totally experienced this in real life. On some days where I feel like crap, it’s so tempting to wear my most lazy and unflattering clothes. But if I put in just a bit of effort, and wear something that makes me feel pretty, suddenly my day seems brighter.

  7. Rick

    I’m going to do it. I’m going to slip on my sassy heels and walk out of here with my head held high! Thanks

  8. Katie

    Dang, girl. I read your blog often, but never comment. I couldn’t resist any longer. I love your outlook on life, self-esteem and fashion. You are amazing. Rock on, sistah.

    And Minneapolis rules:)

  9. dapper kid

    Absolutely fantastic post 🙂 My mother always tells me that beauty is a state of mind, and confidence is key to looking good. With my health issues, I have always had difficulty with my body and being so underweight. But even on the days when I feel rubbish, I just pull on the most amazing outfit I can think of, and it makes me smile 🙂

  10. AsianCajuns

    Totally, Sal! I’m going home and giving myself a pedicure- instead of curling my toes in embarrassment every time I take off my socks. Your posts are always so inspiring- merci!!!

  11. lisa

    I agree with everything you said here–so true! On days when I feel like a slug and a half, putting on a bit of light makeup, taking a few extra moments to select an outfit that makes me feel good, and putting on a pair of earrings and a spritz of perfume make such a difference in my mood and outlook.

  12. Cupcakes and Cashmere

    so funny…my friend and i used to debate about the very same thing in high school. on those days when you just feel blah, i always would go with it and wear my comfiest jeans and a ratty old sweatshirt and throw my hair up in a ponytail. granted i never felt pretty, but i didn’t feel like i was forcing the issue, either. my friend would do the opposite and put on extra eyeliner and blowdry her hair and usually felt even worse that she put in any effort at all. so…i can obviously see both sides 🙂

  13. K.Line

    This is so incredibly true. I love what you’re saying here! That’s why I wore that crazy outfit (posted today) – because I just needed to express some joy through colour to improve the state of mind of my miserable blah self.

  14. Winnie

    Yeah definitely, it definitely lifts your mood if you try and defy it and wear something to represnt the less negative frame of mind!

  15. miss cavendish

    How about Grendel’s mother? But seriously, I’m home sick today and am LOVING the opp. to stay in PJs with EVERYONE ELSE at work or school. Tomorrow I will look good. Today I will wallow in sloth.

  16. Mervat

    Sal, thank you so much for this post. It certainly should be required reading and I will recommend it to my sisters.

    BTW, would you mind popping over to one of my blogs ( as I am in need of your fashion opinion re: a purple, black and grey? Thank you ever so much!

  17. Lady Melbourne

    Fabulous, fabulous post!
    I have to admit that I don’t always feel like dressing up for the camera, and I do force it.
    I don’t think that as women we need to put on a face of make up to feel better about ourselves, or wear dresses and heels.
    But your notion of looking better and taking care of your grooming equalling a positive self attitude is true. In my humble opinion!

  18. Mo

    Whenever I’m sick, feeling craptastic, or have been up all night writing papers, I put on my surefire sassy outfit: Zebra cardi, bright tank, dark skinny jeans, and patterned flats! Even if I feel like bum, it’s way better than I’d feel if I spent the day in my sweats.

  19. Audi

    Yes! I couldn’t agree more. Excellent post, as always, Sal.

  20. chic

    I really enjoyed reading this, such a great post! I also am in total agreement with you – once I abandon myself to thoughts of negativity and self-deprecation, it’s a slippery slope from there, and it’s hard to turn back. So even on days when I feel like crap, I try to make an effort and it usually does make me feel like I’m more put-together and in charge than I feel on the inside.

    Thanks for writing this up, it’s a great read! S.

  21. Budget Babe

    Totally agree with you on this. This goes without saying, but your blog and your readers’ comments make me feel like I’m not alone! 🙂

  22. Jill @ Trend de la Creme

    somebody is readying my braind. sal, get out of my head this second!


  23. Imogen Lamport

    The reason why I love working on the Look Good Feel Better program for cancer patients, is that it’s proven to WORK!

    The lift these very sick women get from just a few hours of pampering and learning how to do a quick makeup application is amazing, and so often it brings me to tears of joy.

  24. seriouslyright?

    Am I the only one who wants to dance off-beat in a mirror naked?…

    Love it 🙂

  25. Laroux

    So, so true! A top tip is to find a photo where you look 100% fantastic and pin it up on your wall, that way on days when you’re looking like you’re something a bird excreted, you can remember how amazing you are


  26. Hammie

    I follow the gospel of Super Kawaii Mama and Skylark, in that whatever you do, even if it is just the school run or a playdate – you should look your best. Putting on eyeliner and mascara (If thats your thing) takes 15 seconds. And it could save you a whole day of “you look tired, are you okay? victim psychology inducing comments. Whereas with 3 minutes of touche eclat, bit of lippie, bit of kohl and some kind of eyelash embiggening mascara, a pretty dress* and you will spend the day being complimented, not pitied.

    So yeah, force it when it doesnt come naturally.

    * dont save your pretty dresses for special outings only. Wear jeans on a good day, and your best floral arse enhancing, emboobening, waist cinching dress on a bad day. Men love dresses. You will be emboostered by the end of the day.


  27. madam0wl, a.k.a Sandra

    Hi, I got here via academichic… I think I’ve read before but now I’m subscribing. 🙂

    Coincidentally I’ve been feeling very blue lately and decided on the 17th to jazz it up the best I could. Not only did I feel pretty damn hot as I ran my mundane town errands, but the positive comments I got on flickr helped too. One comment said that taking effort in your personal style is almost like “art therapy” ! So true.

  28. Kayleigh

    This post may be your best yet. Seriously. I can personally attest to it’s validity.

    As someone who once weighed 300 lbs I have personally lived that awful downward spiral you speak of. It is a deep hole to envision digging yourself out of. But when I began to come out of it what increased the velocity with which I gained back my self esteem was by caring about my appearance, even just a little. Brushing my hair, putting on a decent blouse and some jeans (actual clothing vs sweats and a tee) and maybe a touch of mascara — those small gestures made for big leaps.

    It really can take the minimal amount of effort sometimes to make a HUGE difference in attitude…if only we can muster up enough self love to try.

    You have this exactly right, I wish you could do a billboard of this post so that you could reach women in the same circumstances I was once in. They soooo NEED to hear this.

    Brilliant, sensitive and spot on.

  29. Style and Inspiration

    Awesome post! Great points to consider on those days when grooming feels optional.

  30. tis serendipity

    Gosh Sal you really have the most self-affirming and encouraging posts. =) I love when you write about stuff like this that’s close to everyone’s hearts. Building a blog around the theme of encouraging inner beauty is something that I really really admire! (am pretty sure I’ve said this before but can’t help saying it again haha) I do hope to start touching more on these issues eventually on my blog.

  31. Lori B.

    Finding this blog and this post has been a complete revelation to me. I'm 47 years old and have struggled with this issue ALL my life and I really believed that I was the only person in the world who felt this way. Thank you thank you thank you.

  32. Mrs. Lyons

    Thank you so much for posting this, found a link on Pinterest. I struggle so much with this cycle… and usually at the negative end of it. I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.

  33. Eden

    This reminds me of the advice to smile. Even when you feel rotten, if you smile it produces all kinds of good brain chemicals that can actually make you feel better.
    The is the the wardrobe version of a smile.