When I started using Instagram at the beginning of my vegan food blogging journey, I used every vegan hashtag in the book. All of my photos were plastered with #plantbased, #plantstrong, #whatveganseat, #veganfoodporn, #veganlove … you get the picture.
Naturally, when I transitioned my diet from vegan to label-free, I got a lot of Internet hate from the plant-based community. "Two months ago you were using the #friendsnotfood hashtag." "Last week you wrote #vegangirl on your photo, and you're NOT a #vegangirl. #getalife #yourefat #youreugly."
Of course it hurt to hear people say those things. I spent some time regretting ever discovering the #friendsnotfood hashtag and feeling extremely down on myself for using it without really standing 100% behind the sentiments of the statement. I maintain that no one likes the thought of eating animals, but I was vegan for health reasons — not animal rights — so perhaps I shouldn't have gotten so caught up in the vegan hashtagging culture.
But after a few weeks of feeling that way, I had to look inward and laugh a bit. Was I seriously upset with myself for the use of a hashtag? What if I could take hashtags and use them to promote positivity instead of the rigid dietary theories I'd once so staunchly proclaimed and believed in?
That's when I started hashtagging for fun instead of for exposure. As a blogger, hashtags are a great way to get your content out there. Putting a little number sign in front of a word in the caption of your photo is the new and extremely effective way of reaching a very large and diverse audience. Funny, right?
Well, with my newfound dedication to a label-free lifestyle and still reeling from the hurtful comments I was receiving daily, I wanted to use my honed hashtaggin' skills and widespread audience to promote something I believe to be extremely important. Something we don't put nearly enough effort or love into. Something we can all benefit from.
Whether we're vegan or carnivorous, blonde or brunette, rail thin or short and squat, green or blue … something we tend to shove to the back of our minds and neglect focusing on is the art of loving ourselves. And better yet, the art of falling in love with ourselves.
Everyone's definition of falling in love with ourselves is different. To me, falling in love with myself is a delicate blend of learning to be my own best friend, listening to and being kind to my body, accepting my uniqueness and understanding that I deserve to be freakishly and utterly happy with my life.
It can mean making a serious dedication to your health and wellbeing. It can mean pouring energy into friendships and relationships in order to feel more confident about where your priorities are. It can mean going to bed an hour earlier or waking up four hours earlier. It can mean anything… how freakin' cool is that?
Instead of making a movement out of dietary labels (there are enough of them out there and we need to listen to our own bodies!), let's make a movement out of falling in love with ourselves.
What does it take for you to #fallinlovewithyourself?