LoveI recently watched the new Amy Schumer movie ‘I Feel Pretty‘, and all I can say is if you haven’t watched it yet. GO. It’s hilarious and has such a good girl power message to it. Grab your girlfriends and your daughters and see it. That’s what I did, and I promise you will laugh. I haven’t laughed so hard in a movie since watching ‘Why Him‘ another hilarious movie but not one I’d recommend for a girls night out with your friends and daughters. But, if your movie filter is a little broken, then it’s another movie you might want to watch if you need a crazy belly laugh.

I Feel Pretty is SO good and Amy Schumer captures a side of womanhood that is so true. Thanks, Jo, Kelly-Anne, Anna and Sophia for watching with me and for laughing until we ached.

Although this article wasn’t inspired by the movie, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile; the film indeed prompted me to write and get it out. I want to start by telling you that you are freaking fantastic. Stunning in every way. Every single inch of you. You were meant for this moment in time and the world needs all of you. In fact, I need you. I need you because we are all connected in a meaningful way. The simple fact that you are reading this blog and being encouraged, inspired, or even frustrated by the words I am writing. It all matters and you matter.

Why am I inspired to write about loving ourselves crazy? Maybe it’s because as I’m putting the finishing touches on the book, I’m writing ‘True You – Finding Beauty in Authenticity’ which shares a lot about women and people who struggle with self-acceptance. I am always amazed at how many people live every day through a thick haze of self-loathing. Hating their bodies, their voice, the thickness of their hair or the girth of their waist. Thigh gap or none. Double chin or chicken neck. Never happy. Never satisfied and stuck in a place of accepting the loathing rather than living free. Living strong and loving self.

Society’s influence tells us to embrace our true selves, to not worry about other’s perception of you – and to just be. It is a philosophy that resonates in Amy Schumer’s film, to be content with who we are, to ignore comparisons and to simply see ourselves as the best version. Yet the messages we see try to tell us (and sell us) that we don’t measure up to the flawless and impossible-to-reach comparisons. We never seem to be good enough, will we ever be satisfied?

I have lived a life of loving me. In fact, I have been known to say that I like me, the good bits and even more, the gritty bits. For me, it’s been a fun journey. I was raised by incredible women who, from my lived experience with them, loved themselves. They accepted themselves wholeheartedly. As a grown woman I can now see that they too struggled with self-esteem, identity and a host of other challenges. That being said, they showed me how to love myself crazy. They accepted one another, and they lived comfortably in their skin. From my grandmothers, aunts and my stunning mother, I’ve seen beauty lived out.

This was my foundation. My learning ground. My framework of being.

Strangely it was at the time when my life intersected with faith that I noticed something different. Coming into this faith space, I began listening to people speak potent messages about things that mattered. I attended church and conferences and heard women, who were deemed to be some of the most inspiring women of God in the Christian world share their stories and words of wisdom. When I listened to them speak, I noticed something that saddened my heart. Every time these women stepped on a stage to inspire the throngs of attendees, whatever the event, they apologised for themselves. Their weight, their out of date fashion, their stringy hair and the size of their backsides. This apology always seemed to be the precursor to their life-giving message.

To me, this disconnect was huge.

How could these women who were here to speak truth to me and the hundreds and in some cases thousands around me start from such a low level of self-love and acceptance? If in fact, the Bible says that we are to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, we must see our neighbours as ourselves as God sees us and loves us and love from that place. It’s HUGE. Why does this kind of love of self-seem so out of reach? So distant but the self-loathing was so evident.

The messages these women spoke, however life-changing and inspiring and true, got lost amidst the shadow of self-doubt. Self-loathing was evident which was then coupled with the amount of plastic surgery and body augmentation. Where were the women like my mother, aunts and grandmothers? Where were the women like me who were confident enough to say, ‘you should get to know me? I’m so freaking amazing; I love hanging out with me.’ Big boobs, baby belly, grey roots and all.

I have to add that this faith community I refer to (being the greater faith community) has, on many occasions told me that I wasn’t humble, that my language was prideful that speaking like that was drawing attention to me and away from God. Again something I struggled with. Aren’t I meant to be the example of Christ/God on the planet? Shouldn’t I love myself and see myself as God sees me? I not sure what you think but I’m more interested in living free, loving me and from that place loving others without wanting or needing anything in return.

It’s time to start loving ourselves crazy. Free to be whoever God calls us to be.

Crazy, Calm, Loud, Quiet, Assertive, Confident, Extraverted, Introverted, Peace-makers, Party-planners. Find yourself and love yourself. Because God does.

Stay tuned for the next article based on Brene Brown’s idea that we negotiate self, and how I’ve stopped negotiating self and the freedom that has happened because I no longer have expectations of others. Freedom of friendship!

Susan