Can Self-Love Have Negative Side Effects?

Posted: October 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I know some people hate driving around. I actually don’t mind it so much. Mainly because I love listening to the radio. Especially my favorite morning show!


104.7 The Fish with Kevin & Taylor in the morning!

Music always puts me in a good mood. Plus, I often find the topics highlighted on the talk shows very interesting. Radio shows are kind of like blog reading in audio format! You get snippets of the hosts’ lives. You get random entertainment. And you get thought provoking conversations. Like a recent bit I listened to on the way to church this past weekend. It really got me questioning…

Can Self-Love Ever Have Negative Side Effects?

Every Sunday morning my favorite station plays a national program that will often have a theme for the week that includes stories from listeners. The theme for last week focused on forgiveness and one man shared his story of forgiving himself.

He talked about how he had always been very overweight when growing up and hated himself plus classmates who teased him. Eventually, he met a group of friends that emphasized loving himself for who he is and not defining himself by his appearance.

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Then, he said he adopted that mindset, realized being overweight is “just who he is” and never bothered worrying about his weight anymore. He almost seemed proud that he was still overweight and accepted that part of himself. And I’m not so sure how I feel about that.

You know I’m all for self-love. But I still think part of loving ourselves comes with the responsibility of caring for our bodies. Love yourself where you are, but also love yourself enough to treat your body with respect – which includes fueling it properly and helping it get stronger with some form of activity.

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I would much rather someone see his or her worth and value and be overweight, than be healthy physically but depressed and full of self-loathing. I think mental and emotional wellness plays a hugely significant role in health. However, I don’t like the idea of accepting oneself but not having any desire to treat the body right.

I believe we are meant to care for our bodies. We should be able to enjoy a meal stress-free with loved ones and not worry about the calories, but we should also enjoy fresh produce from the natural world and strengthening our bodies to live more fully. I loved the message of seeing the true worth of a person lies on the inside, but not the way it tossed aside needing to care for our physical being. It really got the wheels churning in my head. Obviously. And I would love to hear your thoughts!

ETA: When I discuss “overweight” I should have clarified that I mean at a place where the daily habits are adding up to physical illness or stress on the body. I didn’t intend to imply simply “above average” weight, but instead at a weight with physical health implications.

  • What do you think about this scenario?
  • And for fun – do you like listening to the radio? Or do you prefer your own music/podcasts/etc?

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27 Comments to “Can Self-Love Have Negative Side Effects?”
  1. Stephanie says:

    I think this is a tricky one. While I do think that we should love and respect and care for ourselves, I also think that this should include our bodies. That said, there are a thousands different levels to “loving your body”. Lots of people are so obsessed with being fit and healthy, and I”m not sure that they’re any better off than being who are very overweight. I think that if loving yourself is an excuse to stop caring, then it’s not true love.

    So yeah, basically I’m on the fence on this one.

  2. I also believe, like you, that we need to treat our bodies with respect and give them nourishment and healthy foods. I think having a fun meal isn’t bad, but just make sure the next day to get in extra servings of fruit/vegetables and maybe eat a little lighter. I definitely think self love can have negative effects. There are a lot of obese people who claim to be in great shape and love their bodies the way they are. That is fine, but there are health and medical risk that go along with being on the larger side. It is definitely a tricky situation!

  3. I think there’s definitely something beautiful about being content and wise, but this situation seems a bit unwise.

    We cannot change our genes, but we can still choose to honor and treat our bodies. And that doesn’t mean ravaging them with 2+hour workouts & an intake of 1200 calories OR mindless eating.

    Overall, I like to think I’m content & wise. Sure, some days I’m lacking in the self-love department, but I know my body and its capability. Took me a dang long time to get there but it’s good!

  4. Jess Weiner, a big advocate for loving your body the way it is, recently published an article on a similar topic. She had become so into “loving herself” that she was unhealthy. She had a reality check at the doctor’s office and finally got a wake up call to love her body by exercising and fueling it with healthy foods.

    To me, loving yourself is a good thing. But loving yourself should mean treating your body with care and respect — healthy foods (most of the time), exercise, and all the other things we do day after day to respect and care for our bodies!

  5. Jess says:

    Wow, such an interesting slant on the self love debate. I totally agree with you that we’re meant to care for our bodies, treat it with respect and love – and that means aiming for healthy wholesome eating and living, for the most part. I tend to think that anyone who is “happy” with themselves but are overweight may actually be happy with themselves but mostly because they don’t know what its like to live healthy and happy. They only know what they know, if that makes sense. And also – I think it’s a form of self-preservation too, vs. true self-love. It’s just easier to accept the status quo vs. making hard – but worth it – changes to a healthier lifestyle. Does that make sense??

  6. I have to say, I’m with the man who told his story. I agree that he should completely accept who he is. It is true that for the majority of people, their happy weight will be within what we normally think of as a “healthy weight.” However, some people’s bodies are bigger. Some people may have thyroid or metabolism issues that prevent them from reaching what we consider a normal weight. Also, even if you are overweight and wish to lose weight, a huge factor in achieving happiness and the ability to lose weight is being able to love yourself exactly as you are. Self-love isn’t conditional. We are worth more than how we look. We deserve to treat our bodies with respect, whether we are at a healthy weight or not.

    • Tina says:

      I definitely agree with all of this. And I don’t know his personal situation, or what he classifies as “very overweight”. I guess I would hope that self-love wouldn’t get in the way of caring for one’s health…it doesn’t have to be the “ideal size” by society’s standards. Just healthy for that person’s body if that makes sense. No matter what though, I definitely think self-love should ALWAYS be involved no matter the size.

  7. Lee says:

    Do you read Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen? She had an insightful post on this topic a week or so ago.

    As for car music – I listen to the Bert Show in the morning and NPR on the way home.

  8. I love listening to that morning show! They’re so funny! :)

  9. I totally agree that the body needs to be treated with respect. It’s not like a car where you can never give it a tune-up and when it konks out, get another one. We only have one body and if we don’t keep it healthy, it will reject us and shut down.
    I think that accepting yourself for who you are is great, but can you really feel good if your body is sick (which it will become if you don’t treat it right)? And will you live the best life you can if you’re not healthy? I don’t think that being skinny is the answer, but copping out and not eating well will have such negative effects that it’s not worth living like that. Just my 2 cents.

  10. I could NOT agree more!! I am 110% behind self love, but not using it to hide from the truth. There is a ballance between accepting all kind of body types and a ridiculous ideal, and self love is a great way to get there, but you still need to focus on health. I tihnk it’s irresponsible to talk about self love and acceptance without bringing this sde of it up! You are a rockstar my dear!

  11. Rachel says:

    I 100% agree with you Tina! I am all for self love and acceptance, and I believe it’s important to see the value in yourself and others no matter their size. But – I don’t think anyone is doing themselves any favors when they neglect healthy habits. It’s not about losing weight or looking different. It’s about taking care of yourself – the ultimate way to love yourself!

    • Tina says:

      I like that last bit – not about losing weight or looking a certain way but taking care of yourself. Great summary of what I was trying to express!

  12. I definitely agree with you and see where you are coming from. I think we all have to love ourselves no matter what our size, but having that be a barrier from becoming healthy is not a good thing.

  13. katie says:

    Beautiful Post! You always have such great topics that I enjoy reading!

    I think we should all love ourselves, no matter what! We are all unique and all beautiful!

    Loving yourself is SO important for happiness and to have happiness with a partner .

    Love ya girl!

  14. Great post Tina! I love this quote:

    “Love yourself where you are, but also love yourself enough to treat your body with respect – which includes fueling it properly and helping it get stronger with some form of activity.”

    Accepting myself where I’m at doesn’t mean settling in and staying here forever. Striving for growth in ALL areas of our lives is I believe what God wants for us. We can live this life to the fullest when all areas are being balanced and improved upon consistently. And we can have fun doing it along the way and still love ourselves as we journey on :)

  15. I guess it depends on why he’s overweight — if it’s because of an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle, then I would say his self-acceptance is actually just complacency. But if he leads a fairly healthy lifestyle overall, then good for him… that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the whole ‘fat acceptance movement.’

    • Tina says:

      I agree. If he makes healthy decisions, then awesome. And I have no clue how he defines “very overweight” (how he classified himself).

  16. This is a fantastic post. Self love can’t be used as an excuse for unhealthy habits. I’m a firm believer that if you truly love yourself, you will want to live a healthy and happy life (healthy is different for each person). I also think that just because you love or accept yourself doesn’t mean that you can’t change aspects of yourself that you dislike. For example, I love who I am as a person but I dislike being overweight. And because I love myself and treat myself with respect, I’m working towards developing a healthier lifestyle in order to lose those extra pounds. I want the best life for me.

  17. Marty says:

    Making healthful choices MOST of the time is important and definitely does show how much one cares for and respect their body, health/well-being, and family. Face it, if someone consumes unhealthy, fat-laden foods on a regular basis and is becoming “overweight” (as defined towards the bottom of your post), causing their body to develop health issues, unless they have medical issues, shows a lack of concern for themselves and others. No one is able to eat perfectly healthy all the time. God knows I struggle with it all the time! But once health issues arise, it’s our responsibility to make changes for ourselves, and for our loved ones.

  18. I absolutely agree. Have you seen that picture going around on facebook that reads something like “Women get fat because we are so filled with knowledge.” I strongly believe that is you REALLY love yourself, then you will treat yourself like it. If you are truly content and happy with who you are as a person then wouldn’t it come even more naturally to be healthy? And not that that means running 20 miles a week, counting calories or fitting into some warped societal view of “normal weight”, but it definitely means not putting your health in danger. IMO, true self love and acceptance comes with a big side of awareness, insight, and desire to grow and become better. I love that you posted about this!

  19. peacebeme says:

    I thought a lot about this post and had to come back and comment. I say, if he’s happy, let him be! People have to make their own choices about health, and having gone through so much depression, I value happiness so much. I know happiness and health can be tied together, but what that means individual for each person and it’s his life. I think that we each have responsibility for our own health and lives and if that is how he chooses to live and he’s happy, then that’s his choice.

    • peacebeme says:

      Oh to clarify, I guess I am saying that the only time I think this would really have negative consequences is if his health is really negatively affecting other people (like he was so unhealthy he was bedridden and someone had to care for him and that was a burden to them – although I am pretty sure he wouldn’t be happy either in that case so there ya go!)

      Great post, great discussion!

  20. Over two years ago I set out on a quest to see if I could “self-love” myself to health and weight loss. Up until that point, I had struggled with weight and self-loathing issues pretty much my entire life.

    This came after a 55-pound weight loss (2005-2006) and then regaining half that weight (2007-2009).

    Turns out, I could. Not only did I lose some of the weight I regained, but my health is a lot better than it was at my lowest weight. I am now off all prescription meds for and my numbers are all excellent.

    Here’s my take on it: when you truly love and accept yourself you want to do the right things for yourself. It takes time and trial and error, but you don’t give up and you don’t devolve into the cycle of binge/beat yourself up/diet/obsess/binge/beat yourself up and so on. It doesn’t mean you have a perfect body, weigh a certain amount, wear a certain size, or that you have perfect habits. What it means is that you accept yourself in the moment and that you catch yourself sooner. And all of this adds up to a healthy body at its natural weight. Your natural weight might not be what is considered “acceptable” by current societal norms but then again, current society norms are skewed!!

    • Tina says:

      I think that is such a great point and i agree 100%. When you truly love yourself you want to take care of yourself, which involves decisions for your health. Plus, like you said, you don’t have to be the societal standard to be healthy.

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