The relationship between self-love and consumerism has become intertwined in the very nature of society.
History has shown us that in order to indulge ourselves, we must either be incredibly wealthy or being compelled to spend money.
Ancient Egyptians buried their pharaohs in tombs made of literal gold, and decorated their pyramids with jewels and ancient art. Motivational speakers constantly tell their audience that they need to work hard in order to get what they want in life. Parents instill their personal work ethic onto their children, and remind them that their dreams must be ingrained in reality for them to be able to live off of.
Laziness is seen as an original sin of sorts, a one-way ticket to never accomplishing your goals and not being a productive member of society. Capitalism and productivity walk hand-in-hand in an eternal dance, constantly supporting each other under the weight of the working poor.
While this relationship supports the economy and increases productivity, the mental effect on its citizens and constant state of inadequacy are byproducts of living within its influence. A consumerist conception of self-love perpetuates an endless cycle of spending money in order to feel as though you are worth something.
Phrases such as “treat yourself” and memes on the internet pertaining to self-care add to the belief that taking care of yourself requires spending. Some of the joy from working comes from knowing the fact that you’ll have money later, and using that money on whatever you desire is a freedom that comes with being an adult.
Abstract concepts such as "money" and "happiness" are topics that are often talked about but never truly dissected, and companies perpetuate the notion that beauty comes from buying makeup products and healthy eating.
By feeding off of our insecurities, advertisers have mastered the art of convincing society that we are never enough, that we must always spend more, that we are simply one purchase away from perfection. This cycle of mental manipulation has been so masterfully disguised as advertising, to a point where we willingly accept it as a product of our environment.
Self-love has taken the power away from the people who crave it the most, and has convinced young people that they must be rich in order to feel confident about themselves and have a place in society.
There are ways to improve yourself mentally and physically without being forced to spend money. Exercising and meditation are popular alternatives, and they allow self-reflection to occur without draining a hole in your wallet. Buying frivolous and unnecessary items is not the wisest way to spend money that could be used on more long-lasting investments.
Self-care and improvement on your personality are always encouraged, but the fact that it constantly pertains to your status in society means it excludes a significant portion of the population that is unable to afford such delicacies for themselves. Self-care is advertised as possible only if you can afford it, and leaves people lower on the economic ladder feeling inadequate.
Simple mental exercises such as reflection or taking care of your physical health can create strides in increasing your mood and appearance. Being a responsible individual and keeping yourself in check mentally will always keep you on your toes when it comes to your emotions and view of yourself.
Perhaps by breaking free of the constant spending-to-improve-yourself mentality, we can destroy the cycle that is defined as self-improvement and create our own personal definition. The power and definition of self-love should be unique to your character, and not be rooted in the spending of money and fruitless expenses.
By keeping track of who we are as humans and understanding that the power to change ourselves comes from within, we can take power back from the hands of advertisers who feed inadequacy into our brains and hearts, and find acceptance within ourselves and our financial means.