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-For all the lovely women-

Have you ever done something so humiliating, so awful that you believe you will never be able to face the world again? The mistake of accidentally waving back to someone who was waving at someone else entirely. We've all done it. If you claim you haven't--well first of all, I do not believe you--but for those of us who have done this, it is absolutely humiliating. There is no going back. The mistake has been made and worse still, you and this stranger still have to walk past each-other in the next moment. In the split second you make eye contact and decide all over again that you would like to disappear into a hole. The worst part of this situation is that it appears as though EVERYONE noticed and EVERYONE is laughing about it. Stop and think. Just for a second, that's all it takes. How likely is it that everyone in the nearby surroundings noticed your mistake? Unlikely. Still that does not take away the embarrassment of the moment. And honestly, what could?

This situation, while petty, really relates to how people of society live constantly. In a state of shame. The older a person gets the more shame they begin to hold within themselves. Shame over a grade, an art piece, poetry, weight, and how many more? There are countless things in the world to be ashamed of. If you close your eyes at the end of the day and 're-watch' every conversation you held... How many times would you say "Oh I should have said this" or "I should have said that"? Should, should, should. Who decided you should be anything other than what you are. How many times have we changed so that we can mimmick the latest trend, or fit someone else's views of what should and shouldn't be? I'm guilty of it, are you?

People say "Beauty comes from the inside" but the very next moment, they are handing out new diets, new makeup, new masks... They are creating the image of the "ideal woman" and in doing so, they create unintentionally (perhaps), a deeply rooted shame within us. We take this shame and we begin to hide. We take and post only the best of pictures, making sure to cover the pieces of ourselves that we do not like. We make excuses for our personalities, for our appearances. We apologize for silly things such as our hair being blown by the wind as if we could have controlled that.

Can you recall a time that these appearance issues simply didn't matter? A time when Instagram likes weren't important? A time when everyone could be themselves, carefree and happy without fear of judgment? A time when we could draw scribbles on a piece of paper, any color, and label it as art? A time when we didn't have to say "It isn't that good..." after creating something original? A time when validation was familiar rather than rare and received rather than rejected? When did we go wrong? When did we decide that we were not ENOUGH and that we had to change?

The shame of who we are has changed not only ourselves, but the world around us. While we measure our thigh gaps and count the calories of our food, the world is watching. Imagine a little girl nearby, watching her mother pinching disapprovingly at nonexistent 'fat' on her stomach? In her opinion her mother is the most beautiful woman alive--or is she? Mommy's always right. So if mommy believes she is fat...then what it is? This child will likely grow up surrounded by numbers. Those numbers could easily end up defining her. By the age of eleven, this girl may refuse to eat a basket of fries so she can keep the "summer Body" she read about in the line at Wal-mart.

Yes. We have all been made aware of the Photoshop involved in printing the magazines... Despite this awareness, don't we still desire to look as appealing as the woman on the front cover? Is there not a standard set by the magazine developer? Yes! Of course there is, each and everyday this exposure pushes us deeper and deeper into our shame. We return to our masks. Why? Because real simply isn't enough for the world around us. I ask you now, how long are we going to continue doing this?

How long are we going to dress little five year old girls up and send them to a modeling contest? How long will we stress the importance of approval over disapproval? How long will we allow ourselves to feel the impossible weight crushing us day in and day out? How long are we going to allow that poor eleven year old girl stuff her shirt with toilet paper in order to look just like that woman on the perfume commercial?

It's time to stop stressing things that create shame and begin stressing the concept of being unashamed. Its time to take off the masks we wear to be approved by society and replace it with...yourself. Real, without labels, and free. Spread your own unique wings, for society has caged you, hidden you, filled you with shame. But you, like a rare exotic bird, are the most extravagant of them all.

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