Self Improvement

TED Talks: Understanding the Power of Radical Self Love

Taylor Bolduc 22-07-2015

Do you love yourself?


No, really, do you?

Do you love yourself when you are successful, as much as you love yourself when you make mistakes? Do you love yourself when you see yourself in the mirror or in photos? Do you love yourself when you face setbacks and have to start over?

The radical self love movement focuses on inspiring and aiding people who are hurting to come to terms with who they are. Radical self love emphasizes the importance of caring for yourself, accepting yourself, and not settling for less than what you deserve.

Often, those within the movement share stories of their own journeys towards self-acceptance, as well as suggest resources and tips for helping others along their journey. TED Talks have naturally become a platform for many well-known voices within the movement to share their experiences and lessons learned on their journeys towards radical self love.

What is Radical Self Love?

I want you to throw out everything you think you know about self-esteem. You know those books that say, “I’m okay, you’re okay”? F*** that. You’re not “okay”. You’re SPECTACULAR. You’re a gem in the rough. You’re a shimmering, exploding supernova.

In her TED Talk, blogger Gala Darling talks about the experiences and the feelings that led her to make the decision to start a movement encouraging women to love themselves. After finding a way to defeat her own disorder, she went on to address other issues that plagued her life.


Throughout the journey towards self-love, she created a litany of tools and techniques to help others with her mission of “falling in love with yourself”.

This movement was called radical self love.

Radical self love is about unlearning deeply ingrained beliefs about inadequacy and inferiority and replacing those beliefs with more positive beliefs instead– those of confidence and appreciation for one’s own abilities. Many proponents of radical self love themselves are people who have suffered eating disorders or have worked to unlearn self-destructive behavior such as self-mutilation.

They share their stories of how they healed themselves in the hopes of inspiring others around them to consider a similar change.


Radical self love is not just loving who you are. Taking care of yourself physically and being kind to yourself when you have limitations are also acts of love. Getting enough sleep 3 Relaxation Techniques to Help You Sleep Better Sometimes it takes too long to fall asleep. Technology can help us sleep better with some help from better sleep habits. Try these suggestions to shut off your brain. Read More and nutrition  4 Subreddits You Should Read For Tips To Stay Healthy and Fit I will tell you right now that I couldn't possible write an article about living a healthy life. I'm a self-confessed Taco Bell connoisseur. However, I can certainly tell you where you can find some other health tips.... Read More are just as important.

Why is Radical Self Love Important?

In the United States, 24 million people suffer from an eating disorder.

Around the world, only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful.

7 in 10 girls do not believe they are good enough. A study conducted by Glamour magazine with the assistance of Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D found that 93% of women have a cruel thought about their body every day.


In professional settings, female employees are notorious for downplaying their own achievements or not speaking up and taking opportunities that present themselves.

This issue of people unhappy with themselves isn’t exclusive to women. More than 40% of boys in middle and high school exercise with some regularity in order to build muscle mass, and 15% of high school boys are actively trying to lose weight.

When we are unhappy with ourselves, when we don’t see ourselves as good enough or worthy, we hurt ourselves. Intentionally or accidentally. We settle instead of pursuing what we really want. We tolerate toxic relationships and environments. Sometimes we even think we deserve them.

In her Ted Talk, poet Caira Lee reminds us that most of us really do not believe in ourselves. We may think we do, we may say we do, but often we don’t. Often, we sell ourselves short and let our flaws be used against us when, as Lee says, we should instead capitalize on our assets and fight for exactly what we want and what we deserve.


She stresses the importance of telling yourself that you are the most important person to yourself, and you will do whatever is in your power to achieve your dreams.

After Lee’s mother passed from alcoholism, she moved to a new city and enrolled in a new school without much difficulty. She credits that to the radical self love she practiced as a teen. Believing that you are good enough, that you are capable, that you have a right to be where you are can work wonders.

Having your own back means more than many of us realize.

What Can Radical Self Love Do For Me?

Elyse Hughes talks about the years of being frustrated by what was wrong with her, and the self-destructive habits she adopted in some effort to cope with her unhappiness. She smoked and drank; and developed psoriasis in her twenties.

After suffering and torturing herself for years, she finally found a way to love herself enough to acknowledge her addictions and made a massive lifestyle switch. She began to care for herself physically and emotionally, and fought her addictions head-on. Eventually, she was able to heal emotionally and physically. She says,

When we loathe ourselves and our “ugly bits”, we limit ourselves.

Dove found that 6 in 10 girls will not do something they want to do because they feel they are not good enough. Going to the beach, going to prom, celebrating birthdays, or other wonderful opportunities are often skipped. This inadequacy keeps us from experiencing all that life has to offer. We may take to online communities Depression & The Internet: Welcome To Your Temporary Support Group Talking is important, and sometimes the Internet is a good substitute when your real life friends aren't around. Here are three sites I recommend for less formal depression-focused conversations. Read More or websites as a substitute for what we’re missing. In today’s digital age our tech addictions How to Recognize and Overcome Your Tech Addiction Overcoming tech addiction doesn't mean ending your use of that technology, it just means using technology to improve the quality of your life. This guide shows you how to manage your online cravings. Read More  further limits us.

Loving ourselves and loving our ugly bits leaves us free to enjoy ourselves rather than worry about how we may look or whether or not we are good enough to be where we are.

It really can be hard to love yourself as well as your flaws rather than despite them, and living in societies that actively discourage self-love and self-acceptance do more damage than you would think. The notion that we are not good enough,  that our bodies are disgusting, that we need to do this or look like that to be loveable is so ingrained in our media and our economy and our own thought patterns that we consider hating ourselves to be completely normal.

When entire industries are fueled by people remaining unhappy with themselves, the idea of truly loving ourselves, flaws and all, is perceived as “abnormal” or a myth.

Radical Self Love In Your Life


You are good enough.

You are worthy.

You are deserving of love and respect.

You are allowed to love yourself and be happy in your own skin.

Although that might be logically sound, often we still find it difficult to be happy with ourselves. Happiness and self-acceptance don’t happen overnight; rather, they are big journeys made up of little steps over the course of years, maybe even decades.

The radical self love movement is just one way to go about taking that journey. It may seem impossible and you may not know where to start Where Do You Start with Self-Improvement? If you know that you want to engage in a self-improving lifestyle, but don't know where to start, these simple, time-proven strategies can help you get your footing. Read More , but you can do it. If the TED Talks inspired you enough, here are two more resources:

What are your thoughts on the radical self love movement? Do you have any experience with radical self love? Leave me a comment below and tell me about it!

Image Credit: Love yourself via Shutterstock, alexmillos via Shutterstock

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