Let's talk about shame. We all feel it. We impose it on ourselves, we impose it on others. People can project shame on you and then it's up to you to accept that shame or brush it off. As we all know, simply deciding to brush it off is not always an option. Shame happens when we compare our actions or selves to our own or social standards. Shame is a unique emotion because it doesn't necessarily require any action. Simply being is often enough to feel shame.
This is a letter to everyone who has every felt body shame. We love you.
If you've ever felt like you're too tall, too big or too small, If you feel you're skin is to blotchy or your hair is to curly, to straight or too wavy, we want to say to you that you are perfect. Seriously. Just the way you are.
If you've ever read through a magazine and felt ashamed that you aren't shaped like the models, we want to tell you don't need to look like the women in those glossy pages to be beautiful. That your curves move you with absolute grace, your frame carries you with perfect balance (even when your stumbling). Your beauty is unique and yes, perfect. We've all been inundated with beauty standard that are not our own our whole lives. When you look in the mirror we want you to take away the social expectations and just see your own beauty.
If you've ever compared your present self to your past self, we want to say to you that you are perfect night now, just as you were back then. Maybe you've seen an older photo of yourself and felt ok about it, but question if you've "let yourself go" since then. Maybe you've aged, maybe you've put on weight, maybe your skin was clearer the day that photo was taken. Your body deserves care and love and nourishment, just as it is. Stretch your perfect body. Feed your perfect body and treat yourself the way you know deep down that you deserve to be treated.
If you've ever been bullied, if you've ever been shamed for something beyond your control, we want to remind you to ignore the haters. For every mean word they say they are probably saying 10 mean words to themselves. Nobody inflicts shame without thoroughly understanding the feeling in themselves. You are more than their words. You are strong and beautiful. You're self worth carries more importance than the words of anyone else.
If you've ever been slut shamed, we want to let you know that we stand by you in your self expression. Nobody gets to tell you how to feel about your body. If you are proud and comfortable with you body we are proud and thrilled for you! If you aren't as proud but choose to dress in a way that projects that confidence anyway, good for you. Show off your perfect body and don't let anyone else tell you how to express your sexuality!
If you've ever been shamed for being to conservative, we want to remind you that the only opinion that truly matters at the end of the day is your own. You are beautiful and your choice to dress in layers, to wear a head scarf or to act in a way that makes you comfortable and happy is just that: YOUR choice!
Shame spirals like a kaleidoscope in chaos. One negative thought circles around and picks up other negative feelings. We run over and over these thoughts and negative feelings and they can morph into darker iterations each cycle. This continues in a pattern until good feelings and bad feelings are indiscernible. We are here to remind you of the good. You are powerful and strong for fighting to love yourself as you are. We love you and we believe that there is a unique path for everyone to find self love. Shame is a feeling we all have to fight within ourselves. But it is something we can overcome if we stop putting such unattainable standards on ourselves and others. We win this fight by fighting together!
Don't forget: magazines are airbrushed and photoshopped. Superstars have teams of people making them look the way they do. Queen Beyonce did not actually "wake up like dis". We can attest ourselves from having done a few professionally styled photoshoots that there are literally hours of time put into making those images look they way they do. These images are not a reflection of our beautiful humanity, they are designed to sell things. Magazines leverage the fact that we all feel ashamed and insecure to sell us things. The message that beauty products will make you happy translates to a multi-billion dollar industry. We want to remind you, and ourselves, that you do not need to compare yourself to those standards. You are perfect. Seriously. Just the way you are.
All of our love,
*This post was inspired by the comic above by Penny Candy. (http://www.pennycandystudios.net/)