It is not possible to love your own appearance or body of your own volition. While body positivity is great and one should not feel negative about their body, our perceptions of our own physical selves are derived solely from the aesthetic affirmation of the world around us.

As human beings, as social animals, we crave the approval of others and form many of our opinions by the information presented to us by our fellow beings. This is why in the world of social media, the function of a Like is so significant: it justifies our affinities and opinions in a way that affirms our understanding of the values of those we value. In a world where you were the only person, you could have your own independent likes and dislikes, but you could never call them good or bad, by virtue of having nothing to contrast them with; by the same token, you could not have an opinion of your own self that could be justified or validated in any way.

Hence, whatever opinion we come to have of our own selves is a culmination of the opinions others have of our own selves, and to think otherwise is to be unjustified in having such an opinion, insofar as that opinion is of an objective, physical thing, like our bodies. Furthermore, in order to perceive yourself with a different esteem than what you currently do, the magnitude of expression by others must instantiate that change in perception; you can’t just wake up one day and decide that you are now beautiful, simply because you deem it so. Someone who is outside yourself must decide that. For example, this is why Deadpool was so pissed off, because someone other than him made a decision about how he was to be perceived — and this is to say nothing of the hatred we can come to have of that very opinion given to us by others.

And we all strive to embody whatever values express beauty. By being the kind of creature that demands the approval of others, we in turn desire of others that they desire us. To be desired is to be beautiful, and vice versa. That is the function of attraction. You might think, loving yourself is simply not demanding the approval of others, not desiring that you be desired, but that is simply not the case; that’s just self deception in the face of your own ignorance of the world around you in an attempt to establish your own aesthetic definition. You may be a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man, but that won’t make you indifferent to the gaze of men anyway.

To love yourself is to appreciate and be satisfied by the attitudes expressed to you by others, namely those who you in particular value. So this is why you have people roaming around who loathe themselves when they’ve just gotten out of a relationship; it is due to the perception of their apparent insufficiency to the person who dismissed them, a person who they value. This is why people whose parents tell them they’re overweight go into adulthood forever being conscious of their consumption. This is why people in racial minorities hold themselves to a generally lower esteem in a culture where the majority structurally tells them they should.

And while this is its own topic, the more important, more functional idea to take away is this: your opinions of people matter. If you want to be the kind of person who helps those around you, tell those people whatever positive thoughts come across your mind. By doing this, you are actively contributing to the culmination of opinions that situates and justifies their self opinion.