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How to encourage self-acceptance

Taren Maroun

I was riding in the car with my brother last week, on the way to camping. Laughing about who knows what, I pulled my legs up and put them on the dashboard. I noticed I had apparently forgotten to shave my legs before leaving.

I ran my hand up my leg and said, “I probably should have shaved before we left.”

Wondering if my armpits were also in such a state, I lifted my arm. “Yep,” I said, shrugging.

I was going camping with my family, and I really didn’t care about the length of my body hair.

My brother looked over, made a face and quite seriously said, “Stop. That’s disgusting.”

Let me stop here a moment.

I’m not someone who gets offended easily. I wouldn’t consider myself a feminist, at least in the context the word carries today — though I believe in equality for everyone. Still, something came over me in that moment.

“You stop,” I said. “You are so rude. It is not disgusting.”

My family has always been pretty sarcastic. We show love by teasing each other, but the tone of his voice and the way he looked at me sparked irritation. I felt shamed in a situation I absolutely should not have felt shamed in; and that, across the board, is unacceptable.

Society these days bombards us — both men and women — with impossible standards for acceptance. I believe we should be cognizant of what is appropriate and enter into it humbly, making choices because we want to — not because we should.

Please hear me, I’m not talking about hygiene in general. Keep your body clean and odor free as best as you can, for all our sakes. Aside from that, though, you are a free human.

You have the right to choose what you wear and how you wear it. You have the right to choose what you do with your body and how you do it. If you want to grow out your armpit hair, do it. If you want to shave your head, do it. Above all else, love yourself and love your body. Fight to stay clear of the weight of the opinions of others, and extend the love and acceptance you would want in all situations.

A funny thing happens when we walk in self-acceptance. Our attitude creates an atmosphere for others to do the same. Your freedom is contagious, a safe place for those who come in contact with you. Your authenticity becomes a catalyst for change.

You do you, boo.

Own yourself.

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