A wise person once told me that it only takes one adult loving a child unconditionally for it to make a huge difference in that little person’s life.
There was this woman I knew who hated herself. She was loved, but it seemed to be based on conditions — was she ladylike enough, was she demure, well-mannered, straight of tooth and hair, thin? Was she too outspoken, too smart, too precocious, too quiet, too hungry, too fidgety, too competitive. Did she think too much? Or, God help her, was she oversensitive, because if she was, we’ll knock that out of her.
She knew she was loved but there were strings attached. She mucked up. Mistakes were for losers from the other side of town. She got angry. Children weren’t supposed to get angry, they needed to do what they’re told without question. She was confused about what to do with excessive energy, enthusiasm, moods, thoughts, ideas. She was supposed to be the same as everyone else, behave according to the rules of post-WW2 dogma and STFU.
She was loved. She hoped it was unconditional, but somewhere between her first mistake and her first kiss, she learned to hate herself. Why? She was so imperfect, so flawed, that even the intrinsic beauty of the person she could become wasn’t enough for her to think she was okay exactly as she was. She didn’t know she could blossom. She just learned to hate lots of things about herself.
Things she couldn’t change. Things she could.
When you hate yourself, it’s harder to love others. It’s strange in our country of Oz, because self-love is considered to be really UnAustralian. Big headed, up yourself, tall poppy, tickets-on-yourself-mate. We don’t do self-love very well, yet if we need it in order to love other people unconditionally, then we have to address it.
When you have self-hate, you can’t stand the way you look. Your face, hair, bum, nostril shape. You detest the skin you’re in, your weight, your thighs, the fact you can’t say NO to sweets. Then there’s all the hate about having no self-control about what you eat. Oh, and you hate the way you laugh, the clothes you wear, the way you deal with other people.
So, yeah, it makes sense that it’d be hard to love others if there’s so much wrong with you.
The wise person that told me about the importance of that one influence in a child’s life — a solitary person who loves that little person unconditionally — would probably find ‘Fuckin’ Perfect’ by Pink to be an amazing revelation. To be honest, when I first heard this song a few weeks ago, I thought two things:
- This is a song we can’t sing in the car (note to self: not a school song)
- I don’t like that ‘pretty, pretty please’ lyric. Just annoying.
Yet it wasn’t until I saw the film clip that I realized how well the lyrics worked in with the concept of ‘every child needs at least one unconditional love-buddy’. Lyrics aside, the video tells the story of a kid who is different. it could be Pink. It could be you or me. She makes crap choices, she hates herself, she abuses her body due to the hating. Or maybe it’s to still the voices in her mind.
Personally, the most poignant set of lyrics is:
You’re so mean, when you talk about yourself … Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead.
because isn’t that the key to starting to like yourself, your decisions, your life? Telling yourself ‘I’m okay exactly the way I am, thanks.’ Apparently, the video has offended people, and frankly, I find most music videos quite offensive due to being a music freak. However, the story behind this particular video is exceptional.
Yep, it’s confronting, but it’s nothing we wouldn’t see on a television show or movie. Yeah, it needs a warning — I don’t want Pip and Pop to stumble onto it before they’re old enough to discuss it. Okay, it shows self-harm and drug use, but where there’s HATRED of self, there are ‘who gives a shit what I do to myself anyway’ attitudes aplenty.
Ultimately, it’s about sending a message to someone or a group of special people. Maybe there’ll be days where you hate yourself, the decisions you’ve made, the clothes you wear, the life you’re leading … but I will love you, because my love for you doesn’t have conditions. I’ve gotta say that when I see the middle of the video, when the mother is yelling at her teenage daughter, I reckon that will be one of my mouthy daughters and me. I just hope that I will be yelling about the situation rather than the person.
Things are never perfect (particularly between mothers and daughters) but if unconditional love can protect these two girls from self-hatred, then it’ll be in their cereal bowl every day.
I’ll finish with the video clip and words of wisdom from the rock chick herself. When she was asked to ‘please explain’ the content of the video, she said ‘You can’t move mountains by whispering at them.’
warnings: language, sexual content, drug abuse, self harm