How do women experience shame?

So why is it even important that we know, How Women Experience Shame?

Because of one simple reason, when you know where shame comes from and  there are others like you experiencing the shame, you don’t blame yourself, which is liberating.

According to Dr Brene’ Brown, when women were asked to share their definitions or experiences of shame, here’s what they said:

  • Look perfect. Do perfect. Be perfect. Anything less than that is shaming.
  • Being judged by other mothers.
  • Being exposed—the flawed parts of yourself that you want to hide from everyone are revealed.
  • No matter what I achieve or how far I’ve come, where I come from and what I’ve survived will always keep me from feeling like I’m good enough.
  • Even though everyone knows that there’s no way to do it all, everyone still expects it. Shame is when you can’t pull off looking like it’s under control.
  • Never enough at home. Never enough at work. Never enough in bed. Never enough with my parents. Shame is never enough.
  • No seat at the cool table. The pretty girls are laughing.

Shame is categorised in to twelve categories :

  1. Appearance and body image
  2. Money and work
  3. Motherhood/fatherhood
  4. Family
  5. Parenting
  6. Mental and physical health
  7. Addiction
  8. Sex
  9. Aging
  10. Religion
  11. Surviving trauma
  12. Being stereotyped or labeled

The primary trigger for women, in terms of its power and universality, is the first one: how we look.

Still. After all of the consciousness-raising and critical awareness, we still feel the most shame about not being thin, young, and beautiful enough. 

So, knowing how we look is primary trigger of shame but how does one deal with it.

A recent article in The New York Times by Megan Nolan puts a fresh take on beauty. The most fascinating part about this article is that it removes that guilt that we women have when we feel shame associated with how we look.

Challenging social norms about who can be beautiful is vital work, and of course it is true that representations of beauty in the media are pathetically white, thin, able-bodied and hetero, and of course this should change. But somewhere along the way, the message of inclusivity went from “every kind of person can be beautiful” to “every person is beautiful.”

I’m increasingly convinced that this message isn’t only less radical than we might like to believe, but also actively harmful.

Wouldn’t it be freeing to admit that most people are not beautiful? What if we stopped prioritizing pleasing aesthetics above so much else? I wonder what it would be like to grow up in a world where being beautiful is not seen as a necessity, but instead a nice thing some people are born with and some people aren’t, like a talent for swimming, or playing the piano.

Being desperate to not only be acceptable to look at, but also beautiful, exceptional, enchanting. What might I have experienced if I had not been trying to claw my way toward beauty? What things might I have thought, feelings might I have felt, if that space were freed up inside of myself?

Everyone is beautiful, we’re told. But why should we have to be?

Get to see much like most things in life, if we decide to shake shame from how we look, we can get to places where we belong.

Just look your best and leave the rest.

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