What self-love means to me in 2016
ellagracedenton
29726

Ella,

Your writing stirred so many emotions, resonated with me so much, and brought tears to my eyes. I’ve followed you on instagram and social media for months, and I’ve always admired and respected you and your opinions, ideas, thoughts… as you so beautifully said about Christopher Poindexter’s poetry, you “word the world” for me. I’m 18 and on a gap year before Uni (if I decide to go), originally from Germany but have been in living in DC for the past 5 years.

I’ve had many of the same experiences and twisted thoughts about my body, my femininity, my appearance, and my worth as you. I made my self-worth dependent on other people’s, mainly boys’, perception and validation of me. I moved and lived in Hawaii, on Maui, for the past 3 months before the holidays. I was living and working on an organic fruit farm. There, I met this incredible girl called Emma (her instagram is @voodooflour if you want to check her out). She’s 19, from New Orleans, a yoga teacher and musician and hasn’t shaved in a year. When I first met her, I immediately judged her. I’m embarrassed to admit it. I thought it was weird.

But then, I got to know her. And I’ve never, ever, met such a beautiful, kind, loving soul. She taught me so much about spirituality, kindness, compassion, empathy.. we did yoga to the sunrise every morning together. Her music, her lyrics, contain such important messages and her words and voice are so mesmerizing. A lot of her made me think of you. She’s also vegan and extremely in tune with her body-her spirit/body connection is so powerful and unique. And she told me something along the lines of what you are writing in this article. She was thinking to herself, it’s a pain in the ass to shave everyday, and why? The hair on my body is so natural. It’s in all the right places. It’s there for a reason. So she stopped shaving.

It really got me thinking about the beauty standards we place on ourselves, the kind of attitudes that are engrained into our minds about our own bodies by society...I’ve struggled a lot with acne for a long time. I used to take pills and chemical creams and all sorts of shit (for years) but I recently stopped and decided that, rather than poisoning my body with pills and chemicals to fit society’s beauty standards placed on women, I want to work on acknowledging, accepting and loving that part of me-my “flaws”. I decided instead to channel that energy I had put into stressing about my skin and hating my acne into filling myself up with love, nourishing my body with vegan foods, moving my body, reading…doing everything that made me feel good, for me.

My own little “challenge” that I’m doing right now is going make-up free (except for mascara, my unhealthy obsession was with covering up my blemishes and pimples with foundation and concealer). After meeting and connecting with Emma so deeply and now reading this by you, I’m really considering not shaving as well. Loving yourself, every part of your natural being, is truly the key to freeing the mind, soul, body, and spirit.

What you say about the relationships between girls/women is so incredibly important as well. For years, I’ve lived constantly comparing myself to every other person of my gender. My best friends, even. Rather than empowering each other, we broke each other down. Comparison is the thief of joy. Once I realized this, and I mean really realized it, I’ve been able to work on this automatic response of mine. When I see a girl my age walking down the street, instead of comparing her body/hair/skin to mine, and finding something in her that is “worse” than mine in order to feel better about myself like I used to do…I appreciate. Just appreciate the presence, and the potential for connection. As a feminist — I see another girl, someone else who’s surely struggled with being disadvantaged based on gender, has encountered sexism…I connect without even a need for “real” connection. And I smile- I smile at people a lot now. I’ve seen it truly does make one more open-minded; it makes one radiate positivity; and it makes one more approachable — ever since I’ve had this mindset I’ve randomly met and connected with more people than ever before. In shops, grocery stores, on the street..it’s a beautiful thing. It’s allowed me to empower and be empowered. And just something I wanted to share with you.

Ella — your words, your writing, your social media presence (and as I am convinced, I am sure your real life presence too) is so pure, raw, and honest. It’s truly inspiring to me.

I’ve never really written to you, although I’ve always felt the need to. I think one reason for that is because I never knew how, or where. This article just sparked so much thought and inspiration in me. Another reason is that, after reading this, I realized that I’m going to London soon (January 25–27) and that you live there, and that I could imagine nothing more wonderful than connecting with you in real life if you had time. If you’d like to, please do let me know! Regardless, I just wanted to voice my thoughts to you, to share…from magic babe to magic babe :)

Sending you much love from across the pond,

Nicola

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