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This story was written by Flavia Bueno from BRAZIL.

I am Flavia Regina Bueno, a 27 year old Brazilian Ph.D. Student, and I am here to tell you the times I was shamed just by being myself.

When I was accepted to be part of this project, I first felt honoured; honoured by being able to be part of something meaningful, and to find a voice. However, I also felt scared. Once this is out there, it is going to be out there. And as much as I hope that this brings some comfort or inspiration, I feel frightened about the possibility of the shame I might feel for writing it ‘out loud’.

I could come here and spend my words on how much I have been shamed because of my body, my personality, my choices, my struggles or even by sharing that being shamed makes me upset. Instead, I have made a different choice. Please understand me, those are all valid issues, and I know how much they have affected me; I only imagine how many people out there have been affected by these same issues. However, by sharing in deeper detail how I have been shamed, I would need to share what I have heard from other people. Therefore, I could risk shaming them for shaming me, on top of reminding myself of all the bad things I have heard. I do not see how these things can help you or me.

As much I still struggle to understand why people would promote shame, bullying or hate, why would you risk hurting someone just because that person may not fulfil certain expectations? I have come to two realizations: 1) most of the time people care more about their own opinion and expectations rather than even asking others for their opinion about themselves, their characteristics and struggles and 2) that does not mean they are bad people or that they don't have struggles, it just means they have chosen to not care.

So today, instead of focusing on how others have shamed me, I will let you know the time I realize that I have been shaming myself. Being honest here, as much pain I may have felt by being shamed in different situations, nothing compares to the feelings I felt when I realized I was doing it myself and that I actually have no idea how to stop doing it.

So today, instead of focusing on how others have shamed me, I will let you know the time I realize that I have been shaming myself.

As much as I have tried to accept myself, that I have tried to increase my self esteem, and as much as I have tried to believe that others’ opinions don't matter, I am still not able to apply that in practice. I'd love to come here and say, I've accepted myself how I am, or that I think I am enough no matter what and that I should be living for me, for what I want and for what I think it's important, by doing it so I would be telling you a half truth and a half lie.

Rationally, I understand and I realize I have value. That others’ concerns or opinions about me are their problems, not mine. I understand that nobody walks in my shoes and nobody really knows the joy and the pain of being myself either. That is still not enough to make me stop shaming myself.

Every day when I look in the mirror, I mentally shame myself for my body. There isn't anyone there telling me I am fat, or that my body sucks; I am the one doing it. I am self-conscious about everything, all the time, and I shame myself for shaming myself.

It is a vicious and painful cycle.

I could spend hours here trying to make you understand why I do that to myself. I mean, don't I know how painful it is? Don't I know how hard is to hear, “you are not enough"? Believe me, I do. Telling you my reasons could give you a clue to why I behave like that towards myself, however, no reason is good enough to justify it. No reason is good enough to justify shame someone, not even yourself, therefore, I am not doing it here.

You see, self-acceptance is not easy. We are constantly bombarded by standards we do not match. But truth is, who says I need to try harder to fit into those standards, and why should I even care? I even say it all the time – but to other people, not to myself.

I do not know what is crushing you today, or what kind of struggles you may have. I don't even know when I will be able to actually stop shaming myself for being who I am, I have no magic receipt. As the matter of fact, right now, I am thinking: is this text good enough? Am I being too dramatic or cheeky?

I am harsh on myself and I still have no clue how to stop shaming myself, or how to stop all these bad thoughts that might not even be true. However, and in spite of that I know I will learn, the first step is recognizing it. I may not be able to change people's opinion about me, I may not be able to change how those opinions can eventually affect me, but I am able to change my opinion about myself. I am capable and self-worth of self-acceptance, and I can achieve that. It doesn't matter how hard it will be. I know I can do it, and so can you. You have the power to destroy yourself if you want to, but you also have the power to raise yourself stronger than ever. Share your story, ask for help. Start the change from within.

This story was part of Safety First for Girls (SAFIGIs) #SharingNotShaming campaign.

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