The decision to embark on a self-love project Turning criticism into love is an ongoing battle

From as far back as I can remember, I have never felt good enough. By the time I reached adolescence, that feeling intensified to feelings of complete unworthiness. Although therapy and life experience helped heal some of that trauma, a lingering sense of personal dislike still lies within.

There has always been an invisible glass wall that separates my true talents and self from the outside world. However, this wall cannot hide what people can see on the outside. To prevent people from seeing what I felt about myself inside, I have been hypercritical about my appearance.

My life has been a mixture of eating disorders, obsessive dieting and exercise, self-hate, self-ridicule, and shame about my looks. I could hide my other imperfections, cover it in my skin, hide it behind my persona or by the deeds I do for others. My appearance, however, could not be completely erased.  

Over the years, I have commented on almost all of my Facebook photos about how fat I was or how tired I looked or how old I was getting. The photos I hadn’t commented on still elicited feelings of being ugly and unlovable. After sharing this feeling with my friends, I learned many of them did this to themselves as well. How sad that so many of us go through our lives being such harsh critics of ourselves.

With this in mind, I decided to post pictures of myself that I would otherwise criticize or hide because they showed too much stomach fat, too much thigh wobble, bags under my eyes, or moments when I felt exhausted, defeated, or hurt. But this time with each picture I posted, I included a declaration that I was going to love myself anyway. Although at first it was a hopeful whisper, before long it was a defiant blast into the canyons of the universe.

Some posts included old photos, like the photo of me crossing the finish line at my first gold medal race, where I then spent the next three months criticizing how fat I looked. How silly to waste my time on my appearance when I blew away the competition at a race! Other photos were new ones taken in bad lighting, or at the gym during moments of defeat, and even a hand-drawn one of me working out amidst the Edmonton Eskimos football players while I curled 15 pounds and felt like a hobbit.   

The reactions from my Facebook friends have been predominantly positive. Better yet, friends and neighbours have posted similar pictures of themselves on my page in solidarity.  

I have not cracked the code to fully loving myself yet, but I feel it is beginning to take shape.  I am going to continue posting these pictures until the day I never waiver on my own sense of self love while staring at my image. In the meantime, there is nothing like solidarity to make someone feel loved.

Featured Image: One of Nicola’s pictures from her self-love project on Facebook. | Nicola Dakers

Nicola Dakers

Nicola has lived in the Alberta Avenue community for 10 years and works for the City of Edmonton. She likes writing, reading, history, painting, gardening, animals, getting lost in the woods, and the awesome people in her community.

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