The Self-Loathing Project is a collection of essays written by women about the private struggle of self-judgement. The testimonials were compiled together based upon answers to the following 10 questions.
1. Is there something about yourself that you loathe or have in the past?
2. Do you spend a lot of time self-loathing, trying to fix something you hate, or both?
3. If you could get rid of or fix this part of you that you hate, what do you think would happen, how do you think you would feel, how would it change your life?
4. Can you remember when you started hating this part of yourself?
5. Is there anything about your upbringing that may have contributed to your self-loathing?
6. What other reasons or factors explain why you pick on yourself/want to be perfect/think you’re not good enough?
7. Do you think other women have it made because they don’t need to fix themselves? Do you feel alone in thinking the way you do about yourself?
8. How do you feel when I say you are perfect the way you are?
9. How do you feel when I say I think we should all accept ourselves the way we are rather than trying to become something else (this is not to say we should strive to remain stagnant and not grow in healthy ways, but that we should not beat ourselves up because of who we are now)?
10.What could you do each day to show yourself love rather than participate in self-loathing?
(If you’d like to participate, please visit www.katherinecobb.com and view The Self-Loathing Project page to request the questions via email. Ongoing essays will be formatted for inclusion on the website and social media. There is also a separate self-loathing book project beginning for men, who should also visit the website for more information.)
In the Foreword, Cobb explains her motivation to highlight internal body-shaming in women. Not only was The Self-Loathing Project written to bring widespread awareness, but Cobb mentioned that she hoped to give women the means to heal. By giving women the opportunity to read the words, feel the truths and hear the pens of other women who are suffering or have suffered from body-loathing, Cobb hoped to make a difference in the way that her audience view themselves.
What makes this piece wonderful is that it is not a lecture or self-help book designed to guilt the reader into a life change. The Self-Loathing Project is a simple, running testimonial that brings focus to a trivialized element of the female psyche. Its rawness creates an overall arc of normalcy. This heightens the sensation that self-loathing is not an isolated, uncommon struggle. The blunt, honesty of the essays makes the struggles comprehensible to any reader, even readers who have not experienced these issues first-hand. The simplicity of The Self-Loathing Project is its greatest strength, but also its greatest flaw.
The lack of depth expressed throughout the overall collection might have been a missed opportunity. In addition, each essay did not seem to be edited within itself. I can imagine the possibility that this was a choice made by Cobb and the publishers in the spirit of rawness and embracing flaws, but I would have enjoyed reading the personal essays more had they been polished. Because of its overall message and sincerity, I gave The Self-Loathing Project a rating of 4 out of 5.