Whenever I read a self-help article that advises women to “put yourself first,” or “cultivate self-love,” I want to throw my laptop out my fourth floor apartment window in despair. (I don’t actually do it, of course, because laptops are expensive.)
Often, these seemingly empowering pieces of advice come with subtle directives about what we should think, be, and do. Love yourself [because that’s how you can get a man to love you]. Spend time doing something nice for yourself [like exercising so you can lose weight so men will love you]. But the truth is, loving ourselves in a world that is constantly judging us—for our bodies and our bank accounts, our relationships and our sex lives—is hard.
Few other occasions present a greater challenge to self-love than Valentine’s Day.