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How to Practice Radical Self-Love

Recently, I found myself at a Feminist Valentine’s Market and Party hosted by Pleasure Pie, a sex-positive organization based in Boston, Massachusetts. The organization focuses on creating alternative sex education materials and experiences that help to end sexual shame and violence.

An eclectic collection of free condoms, penis decorations, and uterus-shaped jewelry greeted those who entered the Democracy Center in Harvard Square. The market was full of people of all stripes who were curious about what could be found at this flea-market-like gathering. As I wandered aimlessly around the market to see what treats were in store, I had a realization: This event, and many others that I choose to attend, are a radical way that I practice self love.

Rachael Dubinsky Modern Muse
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Photo of Rachael Dubinsky. Photo credit: Allana Taranto, owner of Modern Muse.

Many of my friends are amazed that I talk about love, sex, and relationships so freely. They were stunned to learn that the Feminist Valentine’s Party included an opportunity to participate in a boudoir photo shoot with Allana Taranto, a local photographer and owner of Modern Muse—and that I had signed up!

“You’re so brave.” “I could never do that.” “Aren’t you scared?” “Nope,” I replied without missing a beat. To me, having the chance to show off my smile and spunk is a key part of my self-love repertoire—it’s what makes me, me.

In the spirit of practicing radical self love, I invite you to peruse my list of ways we can all treat ourselves:

1. Make “pampering” a priority

I personally enjoy a good mani/pedi or massage, but pampering encompasses any activity that brings you joy—carve out time once a week to do something for you!

2. Don’t be afraid to take risks

Too often, we let fear keep us comfortable. Taking a risk is a conscious choice to move outside your comfort zone and discover more about your own desires.

Taking sexy photos or talking about your desires with a partner shouldn’t be seen as things to be ashamed of, they should be celebrated. Make an effort to have more conversations about what brings you joy and pleasure in your life.

3. Get yourself some treats!

Sexual pleasure is not only about sex toys, it’s about feeling good about yourself, physically and emotionally. A friend recently told me about OMGYes, a website dedicated to increasing women’s pleasure through peer-reviewed research (and it doesn’t hurt that the site received rave reviews from Emma Watson). And if sex toys are your jam, I highly recommend checking out Good Vibrations, the first woman-friendly sex store, owned by a Jewish woman, whose story is also featured on JWA.

Our lives are so fast-paced that an important part of practicing radical self-love is stopping to smell the roses (literally and figuratively). Buy yourself some flowers or chocolate. Get yourself that ring or necklace or bracelet that you’ve had your eye on. Chances are that showing yourself some material self love will help with the next tip as well: practicing emotional self love.

4. Remember that you define your own happiness

My advice, especially for this time of year, is if you’re single, try to tune out the non-stop ads for dating apps or finding “the one.” If you’re dating, try to tune out the incessant promotion of engagement rings. Getting married isn’t the only way to celebrate your relationship. And if you’re married, don’t try and play matchmaker for your single friends if they don’t ask for your help.

I genuinely hate the phrase “You have to love yourself before someone else can love you,” but I think that it is helpful to know what makes you happy that doesn’t involve immediately finding a partner. Finding someone can be a part of your journey, but we need to stop defining partnership as the destination.

5. Walk the walk and talk the talk

All of these ideas sound great in theory, but many of these opportunities are only afforded to those who have the privilege to take time for themselves. In addition to focusing energy on your own self-care, it’s also important to take action for those may not have that privilege and those who are experiencing sexual trauma.

Consider financially supporting groups in your community that help women (trans and cis) access what they need to survive and heal, such as the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.

I hope this list gives you some ideas of how pleasure and happiness can go hand in hand. We should all feel empowered to love ourselves in whatever way feels natural to us,and ultimately, you are the only one who should be able to choose.

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You Are Worthy
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Illustration that reads "You Are Worthy." Via Pleasure Pie's Facebook.
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How to cite this page

Dubinsky, Rachael. "How to Practice Radical Self-Love." 26 February 2019. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 26, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/how-to-practice-radical-self-love>.

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