No Shame November started for me a few years ago as a joke.
You’ve probably heard about No Shave November, which encourages men not to shave for the month of November and donate the money they usually spend on razors to charities that support cancer research. (I say men because while women do participate there is usually some pushback from people who think women with body hair are icky. Personally I think as long as you are actually donating to the American Cancer Society, do what you want with your body hair all year long, amirite?).
I think as a woman, as a queer person, and as a femme we are surrounded by seemingly endless shaming for our bodies, our sexual orientation, our style, our emotions, how we speak, if and how we choose to have sex, and much more. Honestly it can be exhausting, and so hard not to internalize.
Before I had found treatment for my anxiety I would regularly be stopped in my tracks on the way to work, remembering something silly I had said, or an awkward interaction I had months previously. I would stay in bed instead of going to classes because I couldn’t stand the idea of being looked at or spoken to. I was haunted by my shame.
I’m very fortunate that I had access to a kind and brilliant therapist, and it took years of hard work to get to a place where I can say I am proud of myself and my accomplishments. But still. November creeps around and with it daylight savings and family obligations, and I can feel the pull of seasonal depression, making me vulnerable to guilt and shame.
No Shame November is my little reminder to love myself. That I deserve to be treated with kindness and understanding. That I can choose to grow instead of hide. That I am allowed to feel deeply and I shouldn’t be shamed for my joy or my grief.
It’s also a reminder to not shame others, and instead choose compassion and generosity. It’s easy to be apathetic, judgmental or cruel when we fall into the trap of believing that we are the protagonist in the movie of our lives, and everyone else is an extra. It’s much harder when you believe in the humanity of every person you meet.
This November I want to embrace my humanity and the humanity of others. I want to dress boldly and speak honestly and love myself radically. I want to forgive myself and others for our past mistakes and go forward feeling absolved of our shame. These are optimistic goals, and I know they will not be achieved all at once, or even in my lifetime. But I also know it is worthwhile to try. I’m going to start with November, and use it as a reminder of how I want to be all year long.
Happy No Shame November y’all! Try not to eat any glowsticks. That shit is toxic.