Source: Hiding the Smile Photo by Aidan Ware — National Geographic Your Shot

Ethiopia boasts myriad traditions- a rich cultural tapestry that cuts across customs, languages and religions. Administratively, it is demarcated by 9 regional states and 800 districts. It has a population of over 97 million inhabitants, 88 living languages and is reputedly known for maintaining its independence with the exception of the Italian occupation (1935-1936). Culturally, there are many behavioral traits that are unique to Ethiopia compared to its neighboring states. Among them, is an implicit partiality towards modesty and prudishness. This photo by Adrian Wade captures a gleeful girl trying to suppress her excitement. A mannerism most are acquainted with. Such shyness is common among children and youth, especially girls in the rural expanses of Ethiopia. Girls are socialized at a young age to be bashful; humility is revered and too much confidence is frowned upon. Reidulf Knut Molvaer in his book ‘Socialization and Social Control in Ethiopia’ states: “a certain kind of ‘shyness’ is culturally favored and encouraged, leading to pretense… this is called meshkormem, a ‘virtue’ in girls that may be called ‘bashfulness, shyness, decency’.” I hold the belief that shyness is natural to some, what I take issue with is that such patriarchal norms, which inhibit self-expression in females are encouraged well into adulthood. For my part, I believe in the power of conviction; that too is decent.