I am Beautiful, and I am Not Ashamed

I am Beautiful, and I am not Ashamed.

Too many women are ashamed of feeling beautiful; it is time for that shame to end.

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I recently read the book We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In this wonderful, powerful, and quite honestly angry book on the condition of Womanhood in modern society, Adichie touches on the poignant idea that women are trained from girlhood to be ashamed of themselves.

"We teach girls shame. 'Close your legs. Cover yourself.' We make them feel as though by being born female they're already guilty of something."

This quote highlights something that I myself have been aware of for years and never known how to put into words until now - the fact that women, starting at a very young age, are raised to believe that we are not allowed to be proud of our bodies, of our forms, and of our physicality. Beyond that, we are taught that to take pride in how we look is yet another thing to be ashamed of.

Girls with self-image issues are told that they shouldn't ever feel less valuable or less beautiful than any other girl; they are told that we are all beautiful - and that is true. A person's value is in no way attached to how we look, beauty is no measure of worth, and all people are beautiful in whatever way that may be. Yet when a girl does dare to take pride in how she looks and say out loud, "I know I am beautiful," she is automatically assumed to be vain and conceited.

These two messages - that all girls are beautiful, but that no girl can ever admit that she is beautiful - are mutually exclusive. We cannot have both, and yet both are demanded of us. This requirement of simultaneous self-hatred and self-love are written in fine print in the contract we sign as members of Womanhood.

I am sick of it.

I am sick and tired of hearing my fellow women self deprecate their physical attributes and take shame in wearing makeup and wanting to look cute in their clothes. I am sick and tired of hearing them only call themselves attractive, hot, lovely, and worthy of admiration in the most mocking and joking of voices. I am sick and tired of us, as women, not being allowed to admire our own beauty without being ridiculed.

Because the fact of the matter is, I know I am beautiful. I am proud of how I look, and who I am. I have been told too many times by too many people that I am attractive, and smart, and unique. It goes against logic and reason for me to say, "No, I'm not pretty." I would be calling everyone who has ever paid me these compliments a liar, and I would be going against popular consensus and evidence in denying that I am good looking and a wholly, uniquely beautiful woman.

I am proud of how I look, how I dress, the makeup that I wear, and I should not be coerced into shame for that.

I - and all women - should be able to put together an outfit that we like and not be asked, "Who are you all dressed up for?" We should be able to swipe our makeup brushes across our eyelids and cheekbones and make silly faces to see how we look because we like it. We should be able to strike a pose in the mirror and say, "Damn, I look good," without some little voice saying, "Wow, feeling a little narcissistic today?"

We should be able to express ourselves and look good for ourselves, in whatever manner that may be, simply because we want to.

The trend of self-love is on the rise, and we (men and women) are continuously encouraged to believe in ourselves and know that we are all beautiful because we are all beautiful. But until we are also encouraged to express these new beliefs and embrace them as the truths that they are, how can anyone expect us to really believe them? We should be able to express the self-love that we are told to give ourselves. We should be able to know we are beautiful without being ashamed of the pride that we feel.

The truth is, people are beautiful. No conditions or contracts, no obligations or hidden fees. People are beautiful.

There is no shame in believing that.

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20 Small Tattoos With Big Meanings

Tattoos with meaning you can't deny.
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It's tough to find perfect tattoos with meaning.

You probably want something permanent on your body to mean something deeply, but how do you choose a tattoo that will still be significant in 5, 10, 15, or 50 years? Over time, tattoos have lost much of their stigma and many people consider them a form of art, but it's still possible to get a tattoo you regret.

So here are 20 tattoos you can't go wrong with. Each tattoo has its own unique meaning, but don't blame me if you still have to deal with questions that everyone with a tattoo is tired of hearing!

SEE RELATED: "Please Stop Asking What My Tattoos Mean"

1. A semicolon indicates a pause in a sentence but does not end. Sometimes it seems like you may have stopped, but you choose to continue on.


2. "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."


3. Top symbol: unclosed delta symbol which represents open to change. Bottom symbol: strategy.


4. "There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."


5. Viking symbol meaning "create your own reality."


6. Greek symbol of Inguz: Where there's a will, there's a way.

7. Psalm 18:33 "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights."


8. 'Ohm' tattoo that represents 4 different states of consciousness and a world of illusion: waking (jagrat), dreaming (swapna), deep sleep (sushupti), transcendental state (turiya) and world of illusion (maya).


9. Alchemy: symbolizes copper, means love, balance, feminine beauty, and artistic creativity.


10. The Greek word “Meraki" means to do something with soul, passion, love, and creativity or to put yourself into whatever you do.


11. Malin (Skövde, Sweden) – you have to face setbacks to be able to go forward.

12. Symbol meaning "thief" from "The Hobbit." It was the rune Gandalf etched into Bilbo's door so the dwarves could find his house.


13. “Lux in tenebris" means “light in darkness."

14. Anchor Tattoo: symbolizing strength and stability, something (or someone) who holds you in place, and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get.

15."Ad Maiora" is translated literally as “Towards greater things." It is a formula of greeting used to wish more success in life, career or love.


16. A glyph means “explore." It was meant as a reminder for me to never stop exploring.

17. "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam," meaning roughly, "Either I shall find a way, or I will make one."


18. Lotus Flower. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower's first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.

19. The zen (or ensō) circle to me represents enlightenment, the universe and the strength we all have inside of us.

20. Two meanings. The moon affirms life. It looks as if it is constantly changing. Can remind us of the inconsistency of life. It also symbolizes the continuous circular nature of time and even karma.


SEE ALSO: Sorry That You're Offended, But I Won't Apologize For My Tattoos


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The Faces And Future Of Sustainability In The Fashion Industry

The science is unanimous: climate change is real, and it's only getting worse.

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While the conversation surrounding climate change is often plagued by alarmist statements and perilous precautions, there is a practical and hopeful narrative that can be found in its solutions. As much finger pointing as society likes to do, the causes of climate change would take all ten fingers and more to point out the root issues. One of the culprits that hit closest to home is the fashion industry. As an aspiring design major, I've been directly faced with the reality of the industry's harmful habits. Quick turnaround, high demand, and evolving expectations make the production environment very complex to navigate at the least.

Although the fashion industry caters to just about 7 billion people, it doesn't excuse companies, brands, and labels from producing at the expense of our world. Despite the long-held attitude of indifference towards its side-effects; as of late, climate science has left no choice for the industry but to change course. The science has made it evident that we've run out of time to be apathetic; action must be taken, and it must be taken now.

Enter the side of the climate change conversation that's introduced a variety of initiatives to promote change. Whether it's recycling ocean plastic into tennis shoes like Adidas, using up waste fabrics from larger companies like Zero Waste Daniel, or Kate Hudson's Happy x Nature, which has been developed from sustainable materials, the fashion industry is venturing into a greener future.

Adidas first announced its plans to create a sneaker from recycled ocean plastic in 2015, "Parley for the Oceans." Since the release of their first tennis shoe four years ago, they sold 5 million pairs in 2018, and they're aiming to turn out 11 million pairs in 2019. Ocean plastic is a huge threat to marine life, and it's not enough to just stockpile it in a landfill. Adidas's product development team cleverly provided a solution for at least some of that plastic. What's great about the shoe, too, is that it retails right around the price point of most of their other styles at around $130.

Alongside Adidas's recycling, Zero Waste Daniel, a designer based in Brooklyn, NY, has made it his mission to use excess fabric scraps from the industry in his own designs. Using a number of techniques, Daniel combines these remnants into new fabrics, fashions them into appliqués or mosaics, or creates whole garments. Alarmingly enough, it's reported that about 21 billion pounds of waste textiles are going to the dump from the US alone. By gathering up the leftovers from other companies, his products are helping to prevent the wastes from continuing to end up in landfills.

Although not made from reused fabrics, Kate Hudson's latest fashion venture, Happy x Nature, is produced solely from sustainable materials. The fibers of the fabrics are made from recyclables like plastic bottles, and the packaging is stated to be biodegradable. Not only is the new line eco-friendly, but it's also relatively affordable with prices ranging from $45 to $150. Let me tell you, Hudson really knocked it out of the park with this concept. I've browsed through the pieces and have fallen in love with the majority. The pieces are seriously adorable and so trendy, but the biggest seller is that I can feel good about purchasing them.

While recycling ocean plastic and sourcing waste fabrics are important strides in the right direction, consumers play an enormous role in this issue. For any of these initiatives to work, there must be consumer demand at the other end of the product. Companies and brands need to see potential consumers for greener products in order to place such products on the market. As such, as consumers, we should reevaluate our own shopping habits in regards to the apparel industry. We must take accountability for how much we purchase, how often we purchase, and how we manage the clothes after we've bought them. Our demands as customers must also align with the push for greener production and shopping patterns.

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