A Danish fairytale and selflove - A Copenhagen attraction and its meaning for body positivity
Self-love is something that might sound unfamiliar or challenging at first. However, who does not want to love themselves the way they are? Let's hop into the topic.
The meaning of self-love
In today’s time self-love is gaining more and more of importance. That wasn’t always the case as the term used to be associated with egocentrism and narzism. Today however self-love mainly means the realizing of your own self-worth. It’s about accepting yourself, the way you are. Many of us do not like a specific part of themselves because it does not match “the norm” or “the ideal”. Self-love nevertheless entails to not follow society’s social norms and accepting characteristics that are maybe considered as “different” without labeling them as such. The body positivity movement with its focus that every body is beautiful relates to this. Magazines, social media or movies and TV shows often are trying to show us the perfect bodies without any flaws and promote specific body types. Already labelling someone as plus size creates a feeling that there is one body type that is the best or the norm. However, these differences should not exist. Flaws are not actual flaws but created by society as such and your body is beautiful, just the way it is. Therefore, it is about not using categories of shapes and sizes in which body types are put into or trying to change your body to look a specific way, but it’s about realizing and accepting that you are something special, beautiful just the way you are and have a right not love yourself in that way. Taking a step towards accepting yourself is crucial in order to embark on a self-love journey.
The little mermaid and her story
Fitting with this topic is the Danish fairytale of the little mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The story goes that the little mermaid wants to become human, getting rid of her mermaid tail in exchange for legs. In the fairytale the little mermaid wants to change her body to be able to be around and impress a prince that she fell in love with. Only when having legs, she can live on land, just like the prince does. To do so, she drinks a magical drink made by a witch that gets rid of her mermaid tale. The condition for her to keep her human body however is to marry the prince. As soon as he marries someone else, the little mermaid dies, unless she kills him and becomes a mermaid again. The prince does fall in love with her once he sees her sitting at shore, he is fascinated by her beauty and loves to see her dance (even though dancing is immensely painful for her with her new legs). At the end however the prince does decide to marry another and because the little mermaid does not want to kill him, she dies at the end of the fairytale.
A statue of the little mermaid is a famous tourist attraction in Copenhagen. It shows the little mermaid with legs sitting at the seashore. The fairytale has an underlying notion that there are bodies which are more beautiful, better, or desirable. For the little mermaid this desire or the thought that being happier in a different body ended tragically. Instead of finding love and living happily ever after, she goes through pain and eventually dies. This story is supposed to show us that the hope that another body would provide you with more happiness is often deceptive. Therefore, this connects to self-love and body positivity.
There is no perfect body
Every body is beautiful just as it is. The statue in Copenhagen shows a specific body type and therefore (in line with the fairy tale) does not promote the body positivity movement. It promotes beauty standards that were created by society. The story of the little mermaid shows that feeling unhappy with your body can cause you a great deal of pain. In reality there are parallels to the fairytale as many of us are unhappy with the way we look and want to change something about our appearance. This causes some a great deal of suffering because some things cannot be changes and always believing that you should not look the way you do takes a mental tool on you. Of course, it isn’t easy to accept yourself from one day to another. Therefore, it is important to keep self-love and body positivity a consistent topic of discussion and hence continuing to promote the idea that everyone is beautiful just the way they are.
You are beautiful
The little mermaid unfortunately could not accept herself the way she was. The fairytale can show you that changing your body because you are unhappy with the way you look will not necessarily have the affect you might hope for. There is no guarantee that changing something about your appearance will actually make you happier. And while it is not only possible that your desired outcome (as in being more content if you look differently) wont be achieved, the chances that it would cost you a great deal of strength are very high. You are beautiful, just as you come. Knowing your worth, accepting, appreciating and loving yourself, no matter what shape, size or color is of great importance. Everyone of us has the right to view themselves without flaws and be happy with their body with all of its parts, without ever getting a feeling not being enough. Loving yourself, will make you able to find happiness from within.