Embracing your emotional self without judgment has never been so beautiful.
If you're gonna get real, this is a great way to do it.
Who can deny the release and relief of a good cry? Go on, admit it. I won't tell anyone.
Yet many of us (and often men in particular) are culturally shamed away from showing the kind of vulnerability or softness — in other words, our mushy side.
That's exactly why we need artist Lora Mathis' series "Radical Softness." It's a celebration of the mushier side of life and a challenge to our culture that places stoic maleness on a pedestal.
The images are an ongoing series of beautiful, saturated florals, with pointed, smart, and incisive statements superimposed on vases, journals, and walls.
But what exactly is radical softness?
"Radical softness is the idea that sharing your emotions is a political move and a tactic against a society which prioritizes a lack of emotions," Lora said.
"Our society equates toughness to being guarded and devoid of feelings. It writes off emotional reactions, especially those of femmes, as over-dramatic and invalid. I was sick of feeling weak for being emotional and struggling."
I first found Lora's work on Tumblr, where over 2,500 people have liked or shared her work. Lora also has a popular Etsy store called staysoft, where she presents her empowering, sensitive, and fierce art.
"The work is meant to show that strength doesn't have to mean swallowing your emotions. There's strength in healing and vulnerability. There's power in softness."
There's so much power in softness. By showing that side of ourselves, we humans can be reminded of our own humanity. I'm not saying that means we should all cry all the time ... but if we do, there's nothing wrong with it.
"Strength does not have to mean turning off how you feel and being guarded," Lora said.
"It can be sharing yourself openly," she added. "It can be putting energy into healing. It can be documenting your vulnerability in order to make others feel less alone. It can be refusing to be sorry for how you feel."
If you think about it, not crying, emoting, or showing your feelings at all is oppressive to everyone. It's tough on the person who feels like they can't show their feelings, and it's tough on their family and friends left forever wondering, "What's going on in there?"
Lora's art is meant to answer that question and provide prompts for others as they heal and express themselves, just as she does.
"The statements pop into my head as I think about my healing process," Lora said. "My instinct when I break down is to beat myself up for reacting that way."
"The phrases act as personal reminders me that it is OK to have a hard time and cry and be soft," she explained.
And Lora's not stopping there. Aside from her Etsy shop, she's working on an art piece on "Radical Softness" for a traveling show this winter and spring through Alt Space in Brooklyn.
Though, as Lora said, she creates her work to "process [her] feelings and heal," the more her art spreads, the more she hears from people it has touched.
"When others reach out to tell me how my work has affected them, it proves that work is bigger than the feelings that inspired it."
May every semi-emotionally-repressed person please notice just how much love there is out there for you, your tears, and your humanity.
I'm sharing this in case there's someone who needs to know that.