Jam Wilson and Self-Discovery

With a near 30,000 followers on Instagram alone, Jam Wilson (@2jam4u) has a valued and insightful voice within all social media platforms. Jam is well known for their role in the movement of intersectional feminism, particularly as a member of the Art Hoe Collective. I recently had the opportunity to discuss the matters of self-love and acceptance with Jam, as well as their personal obstacles and the means taken to overcome them. Interview by Olivia Ferrucci.
Lithium: How have your feelings and viewpoint on self-love progressed within adulthood?
Jam: As a child of abuse, I hated myself as a kid, so my process of learning to love myself was a lot harder than most and is always ongoing. When I was a teenager, I did a pretty good job of staying true to myself and surrounding myself with people who were kind and good for me but I didn't necessarily love myself. It wasn't until I was 23 that I made the active choice to love myself. At first, that just meant accepting how I look and moving towards even celebrating it. As I get older, it's more all encompassing- loving myself for my opinions, my personality, and including, not in spite of, my faults. I'd say they're equally difficult.

Lithium: Seeing as you are a non-binary, bisexual, aromantic WoC, I'm sure there have been plenty of ideals rooting against you created and perpetuated by the media. Have these characteristics worked as obstacles in your journey to self-love, or do they merely enhance your own perception?
Jam: I'd say all of them have impacted learning to love myself. Generally, we're instructed through the media that self-love is based on the level of worth of which the world places upon you. There's a very specific mold of determining that worth- be pretty, skinny, and feminine and have a nice strong beautiful man love you. While I may be some of those things, those are not the sum of me. My worth is never going to be defined by heterosexual romantic love, and to everyone else that seems sad. I see it as opening doors for other experiences. Romantic love is not the be all and end all of life and neither are hetero relationships. There's this very popular idea of 'how can you expect anyone to love you if you don't love yourself', which is utter nonsense. Proper love, typically platonic,  includes your faults regardless of whether you do or don’t love or take care of yourself. If I decide I need to love myself in order for someone else to love me, then I'm doing myself a disservice. I deserve to be comfortable within and love myself outside of my interactions with anyone else.

Lithium: Can you fully say you accept yourself as of now?
Jam: I wouldn't go that far. I'd say I'm on my way, but I don't think there's a final destination in accepting yourself since we're constantly changing.

Lithium: What was the most difficult part of learning to love yourself?
Jam: Accepting that it's not infallible. The action of loving yourself isn't like a protective bubble that stops you from having low points or experiences that shake your resolve. Knowing and remembering that you're not your worst days helps to avoid feeling like you've failed yourself when those times come around.

Lithium: You're a huge role model for oppressed individuals choosing to speak out within social media (LGBT+, PoC, etc.). What is your general message towards your audience and how would you advise them to improve their self-image?
Jam: I didn't go into my social media platforms intending to support or uplift anyone. I went in with the intention of doing that for myself and it was a happy coincidence that it worked for other people. It still flabbergasts me when someone says that my simple documentation of my road to self-love and discovery helps them in any way! I think that's why the whole thing works. I'm not documenting my life for anyone but myself- I state my authentic feelings and if others’ match they feel like they're not alone. I like the idea of pseudo company as we each go on our own missions! Generally, my advice with anyone for almost anything is honesty. If you're having a bad day and you can't feel love for yourself, don't fake it. Let it pass and know that it will pass. Try not to look at yourself (physically and mentally) with the lenses of other people and society at large, but with an honest and neutral position.

Lithium: As readers may know, you coined the term "shine theory" which is the idea that praising fellow women or non-binary people furthers the fact that it is a reflection of all PoC's successes and triumphs. Has the shine theory bettered your self-esteem and general perception of yourself in any way?
Jam: Honestly, I started the whole idea of shine theory (technically adapted- the term came from a journalist that went in a more self-centered direction) to help with my self-esteem. I was spending so much time looking at other women and seeing their talents, accomplishments, and beauty that I felt inadequate. I felt as though I had less worth, in whatever field, because I didn't have those things. After a while, I thought, wait...no. Their accomplishments shouldn't be marked against anything else. Not only do accomplishments reflect well on that individual woman, but on women as a whole. It's sorta to say 'damn she/they're impressive, I'm so glad to belong to the group she/they're in!'

Lithium: What are some reminders you would give yourself on a bad self-image day?
Jam: It's just one day. If not, it's just one week, or one month or one year. It's not forever.

Lithium: If you could say one thing to teens insecure regarding their appearance, what would it be?
Jam: Believe in your glo-up! But seriously, the way you look when you're a teenager isn't even close to permanent. If you're unhappy, know that the way you look will most definitely change. Be patient, and kind to yourself. It's never as severe as you think it is; I promise, angel.

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