I can remember the first time I realized how self-deprecating I was capable of being. I was 14-years-old, sitting in my parents' basement on the computer IMing my then-boyfriend and my cousin. My boyfriend had told me I was beautiful, and my immediate reaction was to say "OMG im ttly NOT hahahahahaha" (because yes, I absolutely talked like that on the Internet).
It was a completely ridiculous reaction, and my cousin wasted no time in telling me that according to Cosmo, I'd have been better of thanking him because if you contradict a person often enough, they'll start to feel bad about themselves and you.
Well Cosmo, I gotta hand it to you - you got one thing right after all these years of reading your magazines. Somehow though, despite a licensed sex doctor's thoughts on the matter, it's become an ingrained part of female culture to put ourselves down, as though accepting a compliment or not responding to our friends' self-deprecation with some of our own is a cardinal sin we're too terrified to commit. They weren't kidding when they told us that we're our own worst enemies, because I can't imagine ever taking that kind of shit from the bitchiest girls I've ever known, let alone from a person who's supposed to be my best friend.
Saying "I hate" rather than "I love" is a pretty negative statement if ever I heard one. Somehow though, it's become a part of our cultural rules of etiquette that you don't respond to a person's self-hate with "Sarah, you're gorgeous!" rather than "oh my God NO WAY, have you even seen my hips?" As though loving yourself and your body is rude, and self-hate is not only the polite thing to do, but also the expected thing.
Here's the thing though - as many things about myself as I may hate about myself (and trust me, my closest friends can point out that I regularly tell them I've got Saturn wrapped around my waist), what you say about yourself has got to make a difference.
So this week, I'm challenging myself - and you, if you'll accept it - to stop the self-hate. Next time you look in the mirror and want to think "ughh those bags under my eyes are HUGE," think "wow, my hair looks pretty great today."
More from health