A couple weeks ago singer/producer Santigold performed her song, “Can’t Get Enough of Myself” on Jimmy Fallon, and during her performance she wore a T-Shirt with her own face on it (and an incredible shirt-wig!). “Can’t Get Enough of Myself” features self-elevating lyrics like, “If I wasn’t me, I can be sure I’d want to be,” and “I ain’t a gambler, but honey I’d put money on myself.” It’s the kind of anthemic song that makes you want to agree with it, to think, “I am all that, no matter what anyone else says.” (As one genius.com annotator wrote: “Santigold is saying that if she wasn’t herself then she would want to be everything Santigold is. Because she’s just that damn great and she will let the world know.”)

But look closely: you’ll notice that the whole thing is just a little over-the-top — from that fakey hair to those cheeky lyrics (“Got so much flavor, put me on a buffet”), can she really be serious? With “Can’t Get Enough of Myself,” Santigold simultaneously celebrates self-love and undercuts it, satirizing especially the high regard that pop culture holds for it. She explains:

I wanted this to be the most bright, uplifting, fun song about narcissism that you’ve ever heard. It’s kinda sneaky because at first you’re like, this is a song about empowerment, and you feel so empowered when you sing it, which is wonderful. I’d love it if people would feel empowered singing this song. But if you listen closely, it’s kind of making fun of the whole thing.

Santigold has a remarkable agenda: not to clobber self-love and empowerment but to make fun of them, to throw these pop ideals into question.

Pop culture has long been concerned with self-love but with increasing urgency in recent years. One explanation could be that the increase in self-expression via social media has led to an increase in manifest narcissism. One the other hand, the prominence of social media has also shed light on bullying, for example, along with a great amount of self-loathing which people presumably bottled up before the existence of YouTube confessionals and Twitter updates. It’s possible that the urgency of the “love yourself” campaign is an acknowledgment of the human need for love, but also an acknowledgment that our neighbors don’t love us sufficiently. Barring the love of God — typically unwelcome in mixed company — we can turn only to ourselves.

The love-yourself movement is the unsuspecting little brother of the self-help movement, but here the prescription is not to help yourself, it’s to love yourself, and after that you won’t need any help, which could save you an awful lot of humiliation. Many public voices, especially of celebrity status, encourage the belief that one can be whomever one wants to be, and, worse, that one can satisfy the deep longings of his or her soul by conjuring up “love.”

A few months back, I encountered a very catchy song that I may never forget, because at the time it struck me as potentially the most anti-Christian media of 2015: “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld. The chorus goes: “I love me! Gonna love myself—no, I don’t need anybody else” x10. (On further review, the lyrics bear a substantial layer of sexual suggestion, but that’s not what I intended to “flesh” out here.) “Love Myself” is healthy in the way that it promotes abreactive dancing, but as a message it’s just a thin veil over mankind’s impossibly deep loneliness. In a moment, we might feel unchained by the idea that we don’t need anybody else, but longterm, we do need at least one person, an external voice entering in to tell us that we are valued and loved; we need someone to put to rest our doubts and fears; we need someone who, when the time comes, will sacrifice him or herself for us to affirm our value.

I couldn’t help but notice how “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld is in direct dialogue with the Biebs’ latest hit, “Love Yourself,” in which he basically lays bare the ultimate futility of self-love: “If you like the way you look that much, well baby you should go and love yourself.” (Which also has alternative interpretations.) Bieber’s music video features a guy and a girl dancing together–there’s clearly some tension between them, but they’re having fun. In the end, the guy walks out on the girl, leaving only a note in his wake that reads: “Love yourself.” Left alone, the girl looks miserable and flops back on her bed, exhausted. Bieber’s version of “love yourself” is an expression of contempt, because self-love on its own is a myth, and deep in our hearts we all know this. Love isn’t some internal cure that can be siphoned out and poured over oneself at the necessary times; it’s more like the cofactor between two people. As Bieber explains in the beginning of his video, “Love isn’t, ‘Do this for me, and I’m gonna do this for you.’ That’s not what love is. Love is just, ‘I’m gonna do this for you cause I wanna do this for you.’”

But like Santigold, I can’t demonize self-love. Morgan Freeman, who has a most agreeable voice, called this to my attention when he did a “dramatic reading” of Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” in which he removed the suck-it tone and replaced it with one of earnestness, especially emphasizing, “Love yourself.” It was a little tongue-in-cheek but also a moving reminder that true love isn’t something to peer down our noses at, because love comes from God (aka Morgan Freeman, sometimes). Anything that can be loved is made lovable, and we can’t do that for ourselves. But God, through Christ, has already done that, pronouncing mankind lovable with his sacrifice on the cross. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:11). Love does not and cannot come from us, but because of God’s radical pronunciation, we can love ourselves, and should.

During her 2011 Monster Ball Tour, Lady Gaga established herself as a frontsurfer in the self-love tsunami. In one of her more popular speeches, she shouted to a packed stadium: “I want you to reject anyone or anything that’s ever made you feel like you don’t belong or you don’t fit in…just remember that you’re a god damn superstar, and you were born this way! Leave this arena loving yourself a little more than when you came tonight.” Gaga’s message of self-love has empowered audiences across the globe, at least for the duration of her concerts, and has amassed millions of followers. Last month, Gaga Instagrammed a Psalm from the Bible, which at first doesn’t seem too far beyond the bounds of hip, curated spirituality–lots of celebrities use social media for quips about their “beliefs”. Coming from the queen of self-love, however, we have to admit, this psalm is strange:

Look upon me, have pity on me,
for I am alone and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart;
bring me out of my distress.
Look upon my affliction and suffering;
take away all my sins.
See how many are my enemies,
see how fiercely they hate me.
Preserve my soul and rescue me;
do not let me disgraced, for in you I seek refuge.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me;
I wait for you, O Lord (Psalm 26:16-21).

A good portion of the Psalms are relatively self-righteous—17:5, for example: “My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled.” That’s Monster Ball, “I’m a superstar” Gaga; here we get something different, a snapshot of the truth: “Have pity on me.” Because even though I can’t love myself like I should, I still can’t get enough of myself.