I will never forget the morning I woke up to find all of my hair on my pillow.
I couldn’t even find the courage to get out of bed, and the idea of looking in the mirror completely terrified me. When I finally found the strength to look in the mirror, I was immediately filled with self-hatred and fear. Would I ever be able to truly love myself again?
I was soon diagnosed with Alopecia Universalis, an autoimmune condition that causes complete hair loss. I immediately bought a wig to hide the condition. I didn’t want anyone to see what I saw in the mirror that morning.
When I walked into school, rumors immediately began to spread about why I was wearing a wig. The bullying was endless. From gum in my wig to a note in my locker entitled “50 Ways to Go Kill Yourself,” I was heartbroken in every way. The students even created an online page to make fun of me, posting status updates guessing why I was wearing a wig.
I noticed something, however. People said mean things to me, but the things I said to myself were ten times worse. Everyday, I would come home, look in the mirror, and add to the bullying that was already going on. I realized that the first step in getting past my insecurity was learning to be kinder to myself.
I started truly practicing self-love and self-care. Although this wasn’t a process that happened overnight, investing in myself was definitely worth it. Once I learned to love and stand up for myself, the bullying really died down. I finally felt at peace with myself, and it was a joy I had never before experienced.
I immediately realized something: I wanted to share this joy with others. What if there was a day where people could truly appreciate themselves? What if there was a day that we did not have to feel tied down by insecurities? I developed the idea of The International Day of Self-Love. I wanted to create a day where individuals felt free to be themselves. I decided on February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day; because I believe it’s important to love and appreciate yourself before investing in others.
Since developing the concept in 2011, this day has spread to 100 schools in 28 countries, reaching over 30,000 students. Schools that participate in the International Day of Self-Love receive free self-love building curriculum. Often for the first time, students are taught the important practices of self-love and self-care.
I have dedicated my life to making the International Day of Self-Love a holiday that will someday be printed on every calendar around the globe. Although this sounds ambitious, I believe in the power of this idea.
On February 13, 2018, over 100 schools participated in this day. The feedback I’ve gotten from this years international day of self-love has been amazing and inspiring.
A school in Bloomington, Illinois, decided to dress in “YOU-niforms,” plain white shirts on which students wrote an insecurity. Throughout the day, their peers wrote kind comments on their shirts to help them accept and embrace the thing they feel most insecure about.
A school in Westerville, Ohio, decided that this years theme was “Grow in Confidence.” They created a large tree in the cafeteria, where each leaf symbolized a strength of a student.
A school in New York City, New York, decided to put an encouraging sticky note on each door, locker, window, and wall. They wanted to make sure that students felt encouraged and inspired in every way
These are just a few examples of the schools that participated this year. I am excited to report on kindness and peace, but I believe that before bringing peace to others, we must find peace within ourselves. For this reason, I hope that The International Day of Self-Love continues to grow every year, and that someday, it truly is printed on every single calendar around the globe.
For more information about The International Day of Self-Love or to explore how your school can become involved, visit http://www.internationalnaturalday.com/.