One of my favorite quotes in the whole world is – “you accept the love you think you deserve”. It is my favorite because it is just so incredibly true. The way we are treated is basically dictated by ourselves. If we treat ourselves well, with love and respect, we will attract others to treat us the same. If we treat ourselves poorly, we will attract those who will take advantage of that fact and not respect you as a person. If you don’t think you deserve to be treated the way someone is treating you, then only you have the power to walk away; the power to not accept that.
However, if you are not doing that right now or feel stuck in an unhealthy relationship, then you should take a step back and learn how to love yourself enough to know that you deserve more. Do not settle for less. I know plenty of people that stay in emotionally abusive relationships because they subconsciously believe they don’t deserve any better and that they can’t get any better. And that’s just so sad to have to see. Emotional or physical abuse is never ok. A couple days ago I came across the website for a campaign called You Deserve Love and it quickly caught my attention. I decided to reach out to the woman behind it – Natasha Norman – and she kindly agreed to answer some questions for a blog post, which I have included below.
The goal of the You Deserve LOVE Campaign is to promote self worth and take a stand against abuse through art. Photography is the artistic format I chose to create a series of powerful black and white portraits featuring both men and women with the message “You Deserve LOVE” written on their bodies. By writing the campaign’s important message on our bodies and capturing the moments through photography, we are joining our voices to speak to and stand up for abuse victims.
2. What inspired you to start the You Deserve Love campaign?
Not only have I been in some pretty terrible relationships over the years but I have known several friends who have as well. I would give such empowering advice to those who would confide in me but I was still accepting hurtful relationships in my own life. Abuse can come in many forms and emotional bruises can take longer to heal than physical ones. Sometimes, we are the ones abusing our own selves. My friends were giving me the same advice I was giving them: “You deserve love.” A universal message, a simple message, a true message. Once I finally stopped nodding my head to appease and finally really heard those words, it was like a fog had lifted. I wanted the fog to lift for others too.
3. What was driving force behind the photographs?
Social media and the internet have changed how we interact. We constantly are absorbing information and live in a world of jpgs and gifs. In a time where we read less and scroll through newsfeeds more, a compelling image can stand out, catch someone’s attention, and make them think. I approached a great friend and fantastic photographer named Anousha Hutton and asked if she would lend her talents to making this dream a reality. Luckily for me, she agreed and used her expertise to capture the exact images I had imagined in my mind.
4. I understand that your campaign strives to bring awareness to low self worth and abuse. Can you elaborate on that?
The tagline to the campaign is “abuse is not love.” As someone who has struggled with low self esteem at times (spurred on by hurtful words and actions from others or myself) it was easy to brush off kind words when I did receive them. Compliments and encouragement regarding my personality, appearance, talents, worth were always matched by a dismissal on my end. But, I meant every compliment and pep talk and “you deserve love” hug that I gave to others. It took a lot of repetition, but hearing that I deserved love on repeat finally made sense. Seeing all these other people so different from me-people who I cared about so much- and knowing in my heart that they deserved love finally made sense that maybe I did too. My hope has always been that if one person who was hurting and in need, in the right place at the right time to accept the message, saw one of the photos from the campaign and that lit a tiny spark that ignited a journey toward self love and pursuit of better human interactions, then I have achieved all I set out to do.
5. Do you have any advice for those who believe they are undeserving of love?
YOU DESERVE LOVE. I am not a professional psychologist or anything so my advice comes only from my own journey. I’m just a ordinary girl who wants people to hurt less and experience real love more. All I can share is what I know has been true for me. It may not always feel like you deserve love because you are used to being hard on yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Be good to yourself. Show yourself one little act of love a day. Take a yoga class. Listen to your favorite musician at a high volume. Watch Andrea Gibson’s “Say Yes” or “Letter to the Playground Bully” on YouTube. Smile. Check out inspirational quotes on Tumblr or Pinterest. Let yourself cry if you need it. Read The Four Agreements. Make a list of things you love about yourself. Breathe Breathe Breathe. Repeat after me: “I deserve love.”