Every one of us women has a mask that only we acknowledge. A mask can be anything of course— as colorful as needed to cover up equally visible scars, or as muted as we hope to be when we wear them. A mask serves many, but steals from just as many when we are robbed of seeing what’s underneath.
Photo by Renata Ramsini
Underneath is bare. Underneath is raw. Underneath is your truest self, begging to be seen for all that it is, and is not. None of us are perfect, still we all want to be, and we use masks to cover up all the undesirables. As if we have only one ideal that is acceptable for us to be as women, everything we find contrary to the image we desire gets labeled as a flaw and we proceed trying to erase their existence. We forget that the flaws we often cover up distinguish us beyond our recognition. Maybe you’ve hated those freckles for years now, but your freckles become ingrained within your identity. Maybe you treasure displaying your beliefs by wearing a hijab; it is beautiful but nonetheless misunderstood. Perhaps shyness, or your incessant urge to speak up for others has been a source of frustration, but each of these brings with it an unforeseeable gift; your hijab may present an opening for genuine conversation, your shyness may make you a great listener—your want to defend may even create an instinctive leader over time. Even the things that can be a source of shame are worthy enough to be valued, if we stop trying to fit into boxes and embrace them, revealing that which has been hidden in fear.
We take this time to acknowledge all the hidden pieces of each of us that are the true foundation of our beings. We take this opportunity to bare all that we have spent years trying to hide, for the sake of our power. It is strength that allows one to embrace the very circumstances and qualities we’ve been trained to hate about ourselves, so when there is no need for a mask, there is ultimate freedom in being authentically you, whoever that is. Neither insecurity nor shame has any right to impose itself unto you—it’s you who decides they no longer matter once you realize all you need is already in you, just underneath. So bare it for all to see.