Self-love and self-care are not limited to accepting body image. They also include tending to your mental and internal body's state of health.
photo courtesy of @Skeenit via Instagram

The condition of those systems is what we end up seeing in the mirror, which in turn dictates the emotions we feel. Your self-esteem will either rise or fall based on that reflection, and teenagers tend to grapple with this the most.

“I listen to women’s everyday struggles, their psychological, physical and emotional battles in regards to abortion access or reproductive health care and it, too, drains me,” says Lisset Betancourt, Austin Women’s Health Center Counselor.

“Teens battle with different psychological diseases, specifically depression and anxiety which are the most common, but I believe that teaching this group about self-care, reproductive health care and their bodies has the ability to improve their mental health,” states Betancourt. “They are often limited in their ability to go places, explore the world, or make their own decisions simply based on societal expectations about age. While sex is a delicate conversation, it is an extremely important one to have, because it can give them control of something grand during a pivotal time in their life when they’re exploring their sexuality and body.”

What "love yourself" really means to a woman

Loving oneself begins with taking care of one's body, mind and soul. As a woman, some might consider that an oxymoron. There is usually a dark, mysterious cloud over the subject of women's reproductive health within the education system and the media, thus leaving a woman uneducated and uninformed about her body. While there are various programs that have been formed in allegiance to educate young women on their bodies, here in Texas, that education is both limited and scarce due to the state's heavy anti-choice political ground. This situation leads to unintended pregnancies, increasing rates of STI’s, and in some cases, abortions. However, I do not personally recall in the history of womanhood learning about wanting any of these ramifications.

Why your inner feminist will appreciate your attention to reproductive health

In Communion: The Female Search for Love, Bell Hooks states that "the most feminist action any female can take on her behalf is doing the work of creating positive self-esteem, the foundation of self-love.” Reproductive health is undoubtedly a vital part of your whole health because you are essentially taking care of a system so powerful it can bring new life into the world. This requires a great quantity of attention and self-love, which encompasses these  things:

  • Eating healthier: consuming cleaner foods will cause one to have a cleaner complexion, happier mood, and higher levels of energy.
  • Exercising regularly: working out results in a healthier and stronger body begetting natural energy to take over the world.
  • Using non-toxic hygiene products: toxins can mess with your internal body, specifically the reproductive system. Therefore, choosing to use organic tampons and pads are just as necessary as eating organic food.
  • Being attentive to your menstrual cycle: keeping track of your period is powerful. Knowing what is going on with your body and when to expect changes is a powerful trait since this is usually the time when amping your self-love ritual is more than required. Think of it like preparing for battle instead of facing a surprise attack.
  • Using birth control: there are several types of birth control, so choosing a method that works best with your lifestyle is paramount in terms of self-empowerment since that choice is linked to sexual-liberation and personal empowerment.

It is ironic how a woman tends to be objectified and reduced to her reproductive system to the general public while older, privileged men in the senate constantly disputing whether or not a woman’s sexual health is only valued in marriage. Even then, she is still seen by the public as her 'husband’s property'. The media is torn between 'empowering' women to own their sexuality while also being strongly encouraged to practice abstinence and not get an elective abortion. However, you can make a change, starting with adjusting your own self-love and self-care routines.

How have you loved yourself today?