Since its debut in 2019, HBO’s Euphoria has been the TV show everyone's talking about. Based on an Israeli show of the same name, the American version has been said to be romanticised, over the top and immersive with its storytelling. It follows the main character Rue (Zendaya) and her destructive relationship with drugs, as well as dipping in and out of her classmates and close friends’ lives and their entanglements with love, relationships, drugs, sex, trauma and social media whilst they progress through high school.
Alongside this, the show’s actual storytelling is very raw and natural, which makes it even more engaging to watch. But one moment that stood out in the latest episode titled ‘Out of Touch’ (Season 2, Episode 2), was when Kat (Barbie Ferreira) felt pressure from society to love herself when she was feeling incredibly depressed.
Kat has a moment in the episode where she starts to lose her mind slightly and imagines models and celebrities appearing in her room who are all conventionally beautiful. She begins to tell them that she hates herself, however, they all gang up on her and tell her that she must love herself. This symbolises how social media has conditioned us into thinking that we must love ourselves in order to progress or love someone else, which can be extremely damaging, particularly for people with mental health issues like depression or trauma.
In the scene, Rue narrates saying that the problem with today’s society is that when you have a problem, you just don’t talk about it. She deals with her issues on her own and lies to her friends about what really goes on in her life and relationships. As Kat talks to these fictional models who all praise her, she constantly self-deprecates as they scream at her that she needs to ‘fight the patriarchy’ and ‘find her inner warrior’.
By all means, there is absolutely nothing wrong with loving yourself, but with the online community creating a culture that is obsessed with self-love, it justifies toxic habits and is largely unhelpful to people who might be suffering from mental illnesses, potentially making it worse. If someone already doesn’t like themselves, what good does it do to say they won’t be capable of finding love because of that as well? It can come across as counter-productive and harmful.
If you’re someone who has learned to love themselves unconditionally, then that’s great, and it might have been a long and tiresome road to get there too. It took me until I was around 20 to finally love myself after years of self-loathing, and during that time I felt like I could never receive unconditional love until I was fully satisfied with how I felt about myself, which was a difficult thing to overcome. Seeing multiple posts on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram or RuPaul announce it at the end of every single Drag Race episode that (“If you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?”) kind of made it worse.
What helped, though, was getting to a place in which I could treat myself better, pay attention to my thoughts and feelings and even get therapy, which was something I never thought I would do. The process as a whole can be tedious and instead of encouraging people to just love themselves with no other direction, it might be worth also encouraging taking time and focusing on processes on how to get there.
Loving yourself isn’t the quick fix you might expect it to be and is instead the end of the long and winding journey. When it comes to it, self-love can mean different things to different people, such as putting yourself first or maybe just taking time to do some self-care. It’s a learning process that requires self-awareness, discipline and time. It’s okay to take as long as you want before you get there without having to love yourself first.
Do you agree? Let us know in the comments!