Remember that ad slogan? It’s exactly as old as I am: born in 1971.
It’s funny how a person claiming something for herself alone (in this case, in the form of spending money on her hair) is a message that I still respond to. You’d think we’d be so past that, 47 years later. I don’t know if it’s an American thing or if it’s bigger than that, but women especially are conditioned to sacrifice and put ourselves last, we’re rewarded for that, and sometimes we’re called selfish if we do otherwise. We even start to doubt our right to happiness itself.
For many, “I’m worth it” comes after keeping bellies fed. Even time to yourself can be severely limited when you’re busy making ends meet. For many low-income people, me-time is bourgeois bullshit. On top of that, the stress of being poor creates emotional needs that are better met by mac and cheese than by kale.
I’ve had a hefty dose of that reality over the last several years. But the one thing that is really striking to me as I’ve started this Weight Watchers journey is how foreign some of my new food shopping and prepping choices feel to me now.
I chose to spend about $40 a month to do the program. On me. A typical breakfast or snack might be a container of Greek yogurt ($1) topped with blueberries ($1.75), and I planned it out in advance, thinking first and foremost about what will be a good choice for me. Before, taking that time to plan and deciding to spend that money would have felt selfish.
I have bought grapes in January (they’re surprisingly good) because I like them and my son especially loves them. I’ve purchased some exercise clothes that fit my now-larger body. Instead of cooking based on “what can I make for as little money as possible?”, I’m planning what will work within the program.
Interestingly, the food doesn’t cost that much more so far. But the shift in mentality from “what can I do to get by?” to “what do I want for me?” is making me realize how much I was discounting my own worth before.
There are many valid reasons we don’t always put ourselves first, the biggest one being our love for our families. Sacrifice is noble. It just isn’t the whole story. We should respect ourselves when we’re doing our best to get by, whatever that means at the moment. We deserve that, too, even if it has unwanted side effects like weight gain.
Not everyone is going to applaud when you when you say “I’m worth it.” It’s still kinda revolutionary, 47 years later. You might feel guilty about it, past the point where it would make sense to. It might make others feel threatened.
I’ll sign off with a quote from Taylor Lee, an artist I follow on Instagram, from her page a few days ago:
I’m not selfish. I’m DESERVING.
Today @ashley.beaudin led yet another inspiring movement: #thetruthrebellion. The idea is that today we take a word that has been forced on us (whether by ourselves, society, or anyone else!) and we let it GO, replacing it with a word that we claim for ourselves!
Today I shed SELFISH. I have been called this so many times, whenever I choose myself over anything or anyone else. Well, sometimes you fucking have to. I have been through so many situations when someone didn’t put me or my well-being first and I suffered.
I am DESERVING of healthy relationships. I am DESERVING of friends who want me to get better instead of joining them in a downward spiral. I am DESERVING of a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a healthy heart. I DESERVE to spend time with family who cares. I DESERVE to have a career I’m passionate about. I DESERVE to have reproductive rights. I DESERVE to be trusted, loved, important. .
Shed whatever isn’t serving you today and claim your identity. You DESERVE it.