It means different things to different to people. But ultimately, it’s about people’s relationships with themselves. Each individual person determines what self-respect looks like for themself and no one else.
Self-respect isn’t always seen this way, though.
Too often people are told to “have some self respect.” Too often respect is confused with modesty or humility. When people are being promiscuous, when they drink a little too much, even things such as wearing the wrong clothes can garner disapproval from people, including complete strangers. People often feel it is their duty to inform you that you are not respecting yourself. But how could they possibly know what respect means to you?
When people use “self-respect” as an excuse to criticize people’s behaviour, their concern is very rarely for that person’s well being and happiness. More often their concern is in regards to the fact that that person is not behaving in a way that they deem acceptable. Often the idea of respect is used to slut shame or put people down for enjoying the things they enjoy.
The criticism is a display of discomfort that a person has broken a “rule”, rather than one of concern
These ideas of respectful, and disrespectful, good, and bad behaviours are based on people’s personal opinions.
The truth is that what is good and bad is entirely subjective and different for each person.
Sex is not inherently bad.
Drugs are not inherently bad.
Alcohol is not inherently bad.
Behaviors that do not directly impact other people in a negative way are not inherently bad.
Sex, and the use of alcohol and drugs can be perfectly healthy activities as long as the person partaking in them is comfortable, and able to meet their own expectations and goals for themselves.
That said, there are certainly many cases where people’s pleasures can turn into things that are detrimental and no longer make them feel happy or fulfilled. They might actually not be respecting themselves. Still, it’s not for me or anyone else to judge them on these behaviours or tell them what self-respect should look like.
People’s lives are nobody’s but their own. It is not for you or I to decide what makes a person worthy of respect (a stranger’s or their own). People can respect themselves when they are doing shots in a short dress just as much as when they are standing on a stage graduating University.
These issues have become especially prevalent in our society and if you were to take only one thing from this post, I would have it be this:
The only person who can dictate what self-respect looks like to you, is yourself.