You Can’t Bath Bomb Your Way to Self-Love
Tea Adesanya investigates what self-love actually means
The technicolour constellation that erupts once you plop a deliciously-coloured bath bomb in your tub is, quite frankly, an orgasmic experience. Let’s not argue with science here. From the tender touch of the gleaming warm water to the welcoming pitter-patter of a tap left faintly ajar – baths are the echelon of undisturbed peace. Now, with that being said, let me add this: I don’t think Lush currently stocks bath bombs that eradicate negative self-talk, fix the remnants of childhood trauma or demolish bad self image. Well, not yet anyways, though they are organic and plastic-free so we can’t get too mad.
The point is, the current landscape of self-love deals almost entirely with the soft, cushiony underbelly of what it means to love oneself. We’ve all seen the fluffy lists of wholesome activities recommended for when one wants to take care of oneself – partnered with sweet little illustrations – floating on the ‘gram. Harmlessly endearing acts such as going for a walk, doing a puzzle, reading for fun or having a good stretch. All of which are, in themselves, viable and worthy self-care pursuits. But are they enough in and of themselves?
Let’s not mince words here. I am in absolute and complete favour of those types of lists, and I agree self-love doesn’t have to be complicated. Please, for the love of god, pursue those bursts of joyful life moments. Squeeze them out emphatically whenever and wherever you can. Find peace in that paradisiacal bath bomb, say those affirmations, savour those fresh sheets that envelope you in smells of nature, drink water, do all those things! By no means do I wish to detract from the beauty of the soft forms of self-care. But, at the same time, don’t be deceived into believing that those things, in and of themselves, constitute self-love entirely. They only part of it. Once you flip the fluffy underbelly of your quilted self-love pillow on to the other side, you may just find the other side of self-love to be hard, pitiless and unrelenting. This is the side that bombs in baths can’t eradicate.
I’ve heard it argued that not everyone has to engage in the gruelling parts of self-exploration to have a healthy way of dealing with things. That a person can conduct self-love and put to bed their past trauma without deep self-examination or therapy. And to that I firstly say, everyone’s different. Who am I to enforce a one-size-fits-all policy on the intricacies of self-love? I can only speak from personal experience and thoughts, and from that perspective, I’m of the opinion that you can’t have the good and the soft without the hard and the gruelling. For me, it’s a classic yin-yang shindig.
I think, in the end, both end up working in your favour. That difficult teary conversation you had with your mum, confronting your childhood issues, serves the you that is stewing in that bath bomb. And that time to relax serves the you that discusses the trials you face in therapy. And in my non-expert opinion, I believe that’s how life connects and allows you to carry on. You grow from the tough parts of self-love, and you unwind in its softer sides.
At its core however, self-love is deeply personal and bespoke to each person, which also makes it bloody infuriating. You can scoff at 1,000 inspirational quotes that you don’t click with, that don’t inspire you, before seeing maybe one that does. And that’s ok. Do whatever that one instructs, if it works for you, and keep searching for your own answers. At least until Lush gets its shit together and creates the mother of all bath bomb to fix our lives…