Welcome to the culture of acceptance, not shame.
Having been born a girl (and still resembling one), I can tell you that women are raised in a culture of shame. We’re told to hate our sexuality (while still giving it up to nice guys), our bodies (while also eating well but being pin-thin), and our own needs (because everyone else’s needs matter more).
Shame is a game that can only be won by not playing, and frankly, too many ladies have internalized shame.
If you’re feeling ashamed of the following things, understand that you are actually OK. You don’t need to feel shame for any of these things, and the fact that people try to make you ashamed about them says more about them than it does about you. They need to stop shaming, but you don't need to feel bad about these things.
1. Your body
We are told by media, men, and even other women that our bodies are never perfect enough. We’re not thin enough, scar-less enough, tall enough, or curvy enough for people. But let’s just be real for a second: the average woman in the US is a size 16.
No human being in history was ever flawless, and even supermodels have stretch marks. And besides, have you seen most men? They look awful. Stop beating yourself up over the insane standards we place on women’s appearances.
2. The number of sexual partners you've had
The number of people you sleep with makes no difference when it comes to your character, your good soul, or your capability to love another person. You’re not damaged or unlovable due to promiscuity.
People who try to shame you over your sexuality are doing so because they want to control you or because they themselves are insecure about their ability to attract people. It’s a power trip, and the sooner you realize that’s what it’s all about, the sooner you’ll feel sorry for people who try to shame you that way.
3. Having been in an abusive relationship
Having suffered at the hands of an abuser doesn’t make you naive, stupid, or weak. Abuse can happen to anyone — just look at the list of A-listers who have been abused.
Getting out of an abusive relationship takes a lot of strength and discipline. Own that, and don’t hesitate to warn others of your abuser’s behavior. You might end up saving a sister’s life that way!
4. Being single
Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you don’t have value. Single ladies are major CEOs, financiers, authors, and celebrities. You don’t need a partner to be amazing, nor does not having a partner indicate that something is wrong with you.
5. Being a bad mom
I’m 28. My generation had parents who smoked cigarettes around them, gave them toys that are now banned in schoolyards under “Zero Tolerance” rules, and ate non-organic food. We survived. One hundred years ago, kids were hunting with guns, working in factories, and drinking whiskey at 10 years old. Most of them survived, too.
Kids aren’t as fragile as we think they are. But adults, I think, are. The modern standards for being a perfect mom are so high that they aren’t humanly attainable without being a totally neurotic mess. I promise you, you’re probably doing way better than you think you are.
6. Not wanting kids
Some people just don’t want kids. This doesn’t mean you’re broken. This doesn’t mean you’re defective or weird, even if people act that way at times. It just means you know what you want in life, and nothing about that is ever bad.
7. Putting your needs first
A very wise person once told me that I should never light myself on fire to keep others warm. Women are often told to be martyrs, and frankly, that’s a horrible idea. Martyrdom will only make you miserable, especially considering that there’s no guarantee that anyone will have your back when you need help. (Trust me, I learned this the hard way.)
8. Not looking a certain way
Last time I checked, girls weren’t Barbie. We as human beings aren’t meant to all look alike, get shoved in a box and put out for mass purchase. So, why do so many girls feel like they all need to look like they’re made of plastic or feel like they have to dress a certain way?
9. Not enjoying sex
Sex is like pie. Some people go nuts for pie, but others just don’t dig it. If you’re not into sex or not into giving a specific sex act, you shouldn’t feel ashamed. It’s a personal preference, and if people can’t like that, they can kick rocks.
10. Being LGBTQIA
You’re not broken for having a unique gender or sexual orientation. Trust me, I know the shame of feeling strange in your own clothes or wanting to burst into tears when someone keeps calling you a “woman” and telling you to “get used to being a girl and not a special snowflake.”
I just want you to know, you’re not broken. You’re beautiful, unique, and worth loving — no matter what haters say.