CRAIG BROWN: Love, love me do? I'd rather have a cold bath

CRAIG BROWN: Love, love me do? I’d rather have a cold bath

A decade ago, I noticed that various celebrities had taken to boasting about how they had learned to love themselves.

The Duchess of York was a trail-blazer in this regard. In her bizarre memoir, Finding Sarah: A Duchess’s Journey To Find Herself, she revealed her formula for a happy life.

She said that, every day, she would repeat the words ‘I love myself more than I ever imagined possible and others love me,’ at least 25 times. And then — hey presto! — she would carry on, confident in her cocoon of self-love.

She credited none other than the ubiquitous Oprah Winfrey with teaching her to love herself. Every day, the Duchess looked in the mirror and ran through a lengthy inventory of the parts of her body she had learned to love.

‘I love my hands and wrists and ankles and hair and eyes. I’ve got a really good waist and a great pair of bosoms. Plus the pins aren’t bad.’

A decade ago, I noticed that various celebrities had taken to boasting about how they had learned to love themselves. The Duchess of York was a trail-blazer in this regard. In her bizarre memoir, Finding Sarah: A Duchess’s Journey To Find Herself, she revealed her formula for a happy life

Other celebrities followed suit. Before long, the waterfall of narcissism was gushing forth. Jennifer Lopez announced that she had ‘learned to love myself’. Kelly Osbourne told Glamour magazine: ‘I’ve really learned to love myself.’ And so on.

Back then, I imagined self-love to be one of those crazes, like Pokemon or feng shui or the Ice Bucket Challenge, that would enjoy a short vogue before fizzling out. But, quite to my surprise, ten years on it is still going strong.

‘I’ve learned to embrace all the things I find about myself, if they’re good and even if they’re bad,’ Cara Delevingne told Elle magazine, not long ago.

‘After all, I fall in love with someone because of their flaws. And I’ve learned to love myself because of my flaws, too.’

Meanwhile, Louise Redknapp is ‘trying to love myself’, Paris Jackson has ‘finally learnt to love myself through music’, and, in America, a book called How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count The Ways was published by someone called Daylle Deanna Schwartz, who billed herself as the ‘Founder of the Self-Love Movement’.

Nor is the craze for self-love restricted to the battier end of showbiz. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is an advocate. ‘I like me. I like my story and all the bumps and bruises. That’s what makes me uniquely me,’ she says.

She credited none other than the ubiquitous Oprah Winfrey with teaching her to love herself. Every day, the Duchess looked in the mirror and ran through a lengthy inventory of the parts of her body she had learned to love

The patron saint of self-love is, naturally, Gwyneth Paltrow, who has made it her life’s mission to alleviate the burdens of the overly fortunate. She recently insisted that she was a slow learner. 

‘I only started to love myself in my late 30s,’ she said. If you put the words ‘learn to love myself’ in the search engine of Gwyneth’s lucrative Goop website, it directs you to 152 mentions of the phrase.

And so it goes on. On the cover of the new British Vogue, the former supermodel Linda Evangelista announces, ‘I’m trying to love myself as I am.’

Paradoxically, the accompanying photo is a belt-and-braces fantasy version of herself, before a cosmetic procedure went wrong, making the fatty tissue in her body increase rather than decrease. 

‘Look, for photos I always think we’re here to create fantasies,’ she adds in the interview inside.

Meanwhile, ten years on from her first lesson in self-love, the Duchess of York is still hard at it, working on her next Mills & Boon romantic novel.

True to her creator’s philosophy, the red-haired heroine of her first book falls head over heels in love with herself. ‘That is what I have learned to do over the years,’ said the Duchess in an interview to coincide with the novel’s publication last summer. ‘To love myself, with all my flaws, and to be true to the person I am.’

Everyone’s at it. All over the world, children are being encouraged to follow suit: in Australia, the title of a new book is You Are Enough: A Little One’s Guide To Embracing Self-Love.

In her speech outside Downing Street on Tuesday, Liz Truss listed the problems facing this country, and then added: ‘I know that we have what it takes to tackle those challenges. Of course, it won’t be easy, but we can do it. We will transform Britain into an aspiration nation, where everyone everywhere learns to love themselves.’

In fact, she didn’t say that last bit, but it can’t be long before she does. Oh, how I miss the Ice Bucket Challenge!

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