“How You Gonna Love Someone?” How RuPaul Is Right About Love

With the past few columns I’ve written, I feel like all I’ve done is complain about my body and life, which is what I do in person. I do have issues with my body and weight but I’m also deeply in love with my body and I’m continually reminded that I must love myself to be able to pursue the life I want.

Throughout my life I’ve based my self-confidence on what I perceived as love from men. I remember at an early age being fascinated with the opposite sex, how they reacted to things I did, if they laughed at my jokes. The approval I got from men superseded any internal self-worth I felt.

While many women blame their self-esteem concerns on “daddy issues” or parental failures, I don’t quite identify with that. My mother was constantly telling me that I was beautiful and smart; my father was more reserved with his praise but what I remember hearing from him has always propelled me forward. My dad is a quiet and somewhat aloof person, whereas I’m nearly the exact opposite. His praise was rarely verbal but was through notes he would leave before he left work. I still have many of those notes and consider them treasures in my life.

In elementary school, I had a new crush every week. One week in second grade, it happened to be on a boy named David. Funny, cute and athletic, he was everything my young heart wanted.

One game I would play at recess involved chasing the boys around the field trying to kiss them, which was very similar to the game I would play in my early twenties. David grew tired of the game and set up a proposition for me. He would kiss me if I would show him my panties. (I know this sounds scandalous but children’s play often seems risqué after the fact.) I took his offer and after a quick flash of my polka-dotted bottom, I got a kiss. I realized then that if I used my body the right way, I could get the affection that I wanted. That type of thinking would continue until only a few years ago.

The confusion over the purpose of my body lasted until I met someone who appreciated every aspect of me: not only my fabulous curves but my humor, my intelligence and my personality. He showed me that someone could be interested in me without wanting to see my panties in return. This, in a weird way, gave me the opportunity to begin loving myself in a way that I had never known before. This wonderful man and I are still together.

I was recently sorting through some jewelry when I came across a pair of little diamond earrings I had received as a gift from an ex-boyfriend in high school. The posts were not the right size for my ears so I was left wondering what to do with them. I had another pair of diamond earrings from my grandparents so I had no use for two pairs. I decided that I wanted to make a diamond ring for myself from them.

I headed to a jeweler near my home and looked through catalogues of settings I could put these diamonds into. While the older woman helping me stepped into the back room to get another catalogue, I began looking through the other jewelry. When I saw this three-stone vintage setting, I knew I had to have it.

After the woman came back, she must have seen the desire in my eyes, and suggested that I sell the diamond earrings to the store so I can use that money to buy this gorgeous ring. I was hesitant because I felt disrespectful selling something that someone had picked out just for me. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Selling the earrings and buying a ring was a way to claim myself. I sold the earrings, bought the ring and now proudly wear it on my ring finger.

I gave it a silly name, my “me-gagement” ring. This vintage diamond ring is a symbol of being true to myself and never letting go of the love that I’m growing for me. No one can love me the way I do and I cannot love anyone else unless I love myself.

Our bodies and minds are intricate, amazing and special. We must take the time to love ourselves the way we love others. In the words of RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself — how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”