Self-Improvement: A Sign of Self-Love or Self-Hate?

Photo of Cardi B via GQ
By Kerika Fields Nalty 

We all want to be better versions of ourselves. We want to grow, change, evolve and we definitely should. Listen, a serious juice cleanse never hurt anybody. And a diet does indeed do a body good. But at what point does this pass into obsession? Things like constantly dieting/fasting, spending money you don't have on expensive cosmetics, wigs and/or weaves, obsessing about your looks, beating yourself up over your choices and comparing yourself to others are all red flags that you just might be over-doing the whole self-improvement thing. Be clear about the why’s behind your desire for drastic changes.

Recently, IT girl Cardi B was interviewed in GQ magazine and talked candidly and comically about having botched bootie injections.

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She says an ex-boyfriend cheated on her with a girl who had a bigger behind so she went out and got one bigger. I had to wonder If he had cheated on her with a shorter woman, would Cardi have cut herself off at the knees? If the other woman were taller would she have gotten stilts? I’m being silly, but seriously there is always someone who’ll be lighter darker thicker thinner taller shorter with bigger boobs, a bigger butt, or both. If you decide to make permanent physical changes to compete with others or impress a man it can become a vicious, dangerous cycle and speaks volumes to a lack of self-love and self-acceptance.

Dr. Nicole M. Alford, a clinical psychologist with over twenty years experience, says,
 “I have come to embrace this quote: ‘It is what it is.’ I think for most, this type of perspective only comes with maturity, AFTER spending the thousands of dollars, of setting diet goal after diet goal, of plucking and tweezing and sucking in and wrapping and zapping. I tell my patients, ‘When you cannot leave the house with a naked face, the Spanx and all the accouterments and be comfortable…when your naked self as you were born is not good enough for even you, you need to have a reality check. If you cannot check yourself then it’s time to see someone professionally. I also say check your motives. Why do you want to get lipo? Lose weight? Get a nose job? Dye your hair? Are you doing this to enhance or to hide? No shade to those who have done these things. We all want to look our best. But the motivations behind the behaviors are worth exploring.”
My gym buddy, an attractive woman of a certain age, gets stared at, approached and admired everywhere we go. She is oblivious and ignores the attention although she constantly moans about wanting to meet a nice man.

I say: Hey girl he’s checking you out!

She says: I’m not even thinking about guys until I lose these twenty pounds.

She has been saying the same thing since I met her in the sauna seven years ago. She is still single, and clinging to her crutch of having to lose weight first because without it she would have to be vulnerable, take chances, make compromises, and ultimately grow.

The game of life demands that we assess ourselves and make adjustments accordingly. It’s easy to think that these adjustments should always be physical due to examples everywhere. Kim Kardashian. Pay that noise no mind. True transformation comes from taking into account all aspects of self- the trifecta of body, mind, and spirit. After taking a good look inside, you may discover that what you see on the outside is not so bad after all.

Do you practice a healthy or unhealthy relationship with self-improvement?
Kerika Fields Nalty is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer and the author of “He’s Gone…You’re Back! The Right Way to Get Over Mr. Wrong.” Follow her on Instagram @kerikafieldsnalty and at withyourbadself.com

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