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Understanding the origins of Shame

Change Coach Faith Hoskins taking a morning plunge

Confessions: Shame... when in Rome.

One of the things about being a “coach” is that everyone assumes you have it all together. Well, that is why I am takingthe time to write my “confessions”- as a way of debunking THAT myth! I am human, just like all of you, and I deal with the same 50/50 of life, just like anyone else.


This past year, I have been doing a lot of work on uncovering the shame I experience about my body and self as a sexual being because of the way I was socialized within the “purity culture”. I can say that for most of my life, the main emotion I experienced when it came to my body, my sensuality, and my sexuality is shame- layers and layers of shame.


There is too much to say in this one post, but it has been very challenging to take a hard look at these narratives, peel back those layers, and decide what beliefs I want to keep and which ones I want to let go of.


This has been a big focus of mine for the past year and a half, which brings me to my present-day experience.


I am currently spending the holidays in a small coastal village in the south of France, (Rough life, eh?), and my daughter has challenged me to do a daily cold-plunge while here. She said, “Come on, Mom, when in Rome…” So, on Sunday, I went down to the local beach to torture myself in the icy waters of the Mediterranean Sea. (Since this is a confession, I must confess I only got up to my calves before turning and running back to the safety of sand and sun.)


It was an amazing afternoon, and I sat on the beach, soaking inthe incredible scenery of the blue waves dramatically hitting the cliffs. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this little toddler running around, completely naked, picking up rocks and throwing them into the surf. He had no shame. Of course not! He didn’t know any better. I smiled and thought, “Must be nice to be that free.”


But then I saw another naked body. This time it was not a small child, but an older, French women in her mid-60’s, sunbathing topless.


Someone walked by her, smiled, and greeted her with pleasantries. She propped herself up on her elbows, smiled, and happily greeted them in return, feeling no shame whatsoever. But I, on the other hand, immediately felt a sense of embarrassment at seeing her topless. Yet, my curiosity kept my eyes fixed on her. I found her confidence so riveting that I couldn’t turn my eyes from her. I was drawn in by this freedom she seemed to possess. Here was this woman who fully embraced her body- as is, without hiding or apologizing. Her body was nothing spectacular, according to how my culture defines beauty. In fact, she was what one might expect of a more mature women- grey hair, wrinkles, saggy breasts, saggy skin, all telling the story of her life. I found her simply beautiful! Her confidence was infectious. Again, I found myself saying, “Must be nice to be that free.”


I know. I know. This is a cultural thing…which is exactly my point! The shame I experience is not universal. It has been taught to me by my culture. And though not all of what my culture has taught me is bad, I want to take a hard look at what I have been socialized to think about myself and my body.


So, I confess that I have a lot of toxic messaging that keeps me in shame. I still struggle with negative body image and a skewed perception of purity. But I also commit to doing the work to break free of those messages that are holding me back from being the confident, amazing, beautiful woman that I am.  


Who knows? By the end of my stay here, I might just have the courage to be as free as those two amazing people next time I go cold plunging. My daughter said it best, “When in Rome…”



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