I’m not sure if people would define this as a feminist issue or not, but I believe in most instances it is.
Recently I’ve tried to think of things I can do to ‘treat myself’ so to speak. I was looking for different reasons, including a reward for avoiding temptation for set amounts of time (back to breaking addiction here), and as a treat for my birthday. The thing is, I couldn’t think of anything on any of these occasions. Every special food I like, I eat. Every activity I like doing, I do. There’s nothing in particular that I personally could do to treat myself for special occasions or rewards.
That’s not to say I’m perfectly happy (clearly I’m not), but I don’t withhold the things that make me happy as some sort of exercise in willpower/punishment. I fit the things I like into my (extremely busy) schedule. The things that are making me happy today were seemingly out of my control – I had a ‘happy day before your birthday’ message from a close friend, I’m extremely busy at work and I got a happy birthday card signed by all my workmates. But this stuff isn’t outside of my control. I choose my friends and I chose my workplace (very recently chose it, in fact). That both are so great is the reason that both are part of my life. I don’t put up with crap friends, and I won’t work somewhere I’m unappreciated.
The feminist part, in my opinion, comes in when I think about how I’m the exception not the rule*. Most women spend a lifetime denying themselves the things they take pleasure in, for a variety of reasons. And they shouldn’t. Diets should not exist for the purpose of fitting into a made up beauty ideal. I have heard conversations between women about who can deny themselves the best and it disgusts me. This is not something to take pride in. The patriarchy has tricked us all into thinking we don’t deserve to feel good, and special, every damn day of our lives, and it’s a lie. We do deserve it.
I like feeling extra special on my birthday (because I’m a big child at heart), but I expect that to come from the people around me.** I do the TLC thing for myself every day, and the little things my friends do on the ‘special occasions’ are what makes them better.
So if there’s something you enjoy, go do it. Don’t wait til your birthday to wander around an art museum on a Sunday afternoon – just go do it. Don’t deny yourself the (healthy)^ things that make you happy, indulge. And don’t think of it as indulging – think of it as an everyday thing that you deserve. Because you do deserve it.
*bad, horrible movie. He’s just not that into you certainly seems to have infected my brain.
** just as I do for my friends on their birthdays. It is a two way street as far as I’m concerned, so don’t think I’m just being self centred here!
^ not healthy as in eat salads, healthy as in something that is good for your wellbeing. Don’t go set yourself on fire because it’s high on your list of things to do for funsies. I am in no way advocating self harm (in any form) in this post.