How I Finally Learned Self-Love in a Post-Nuclear World




This piece appears in the LARB Print Quarterly Journal: No. 17,  Comedy

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In this vapid world of Facebook, Instagram, and the pretty big nuclear explosion like an hour ago, it’s been hard for me to take the time to love myself.

Like so many women, my inability to care about myself started when I was a teenager and my self-image was as weak as the level of nuclear warfare we were in at the time. One of these started to grow, and not the one I’d hoped. Every time I looked in the mirror, I judged myself. Are my pants fitting weird? Are my braces the wrong color? Is the Fire and Fury™ Protection Oxygen Mask my parents gave me making my forehead look big?

Today, I dragged myself out of the rubble and to my mirror where I noticed small details on my face I hadn’t noticed before. My sharp, distinct jawline, my eyes that tell a thousand stories, my hair scorched from the explosion we never thought would happen. And I finally realized — there’s so much to love.

Other people saw this in me before I saw it in myself (before all of our retinas burned out of our eyeballs and none of us could see more than just “relative shapes”). In fact, during those teenage years, my friends and I would sit by what were then known as “trees” but now known as “used to be where trees were, before North Korea aimed right,” and just call each other beautiful and amazing, but ourselves ugly and unworthy.

Maybe if we could have treated ourselves like we treat our friends, we could have learned to be less critical of ourselves. And maybe through loving ourselves, we could inspire the country to love itself and stop instigating nuclear bombs over social media.

A love of self leads to a love of others, which leads us to stop using names like “Ugly,” “Stupid,” or “Little Rocket Man,” which will inevitably lead to a violent third world war with weaponry like we’ve never seen before.

But just as important as how we see ourselves on the outside is how we treat our bodies — how we end up feeling on the inside. It’s fun to indulge in an ice cream cone/whatever’s left of the bag of flour in the freezer every now and then, but it’s also fun to test the radioactivity of the Farmers Market remains and get those natural nutrients flowing through our bodies. We have to get our bodies moving, so we can feel our blood circulate. Instead of just walking, we can jog … away from another nuclear target, which will help minimize radiation exposure.

So, that’s the kind of woman I want to be from now on. I want to be able to do things for myself, and take care of myself. I want to go to the Ground Zero Spa, or the Ground Zero Acupuncturist, or this one Dave & Buster’s that survived everything. And, while Kim Jong-un keeps launching his ICBMs, I’ll be launching my own ICBM campaign: I Care ’Bout Myself.

 

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Broti Gupta is a comedy writer for Friends From College on Netflix and Shouts and Murmurs in The New Yorker.


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