Most philosophers agree that shame is about failing to live up to our moral ideals, but stories such as Lucy Grealy’s and others’ seem not to fit this definition. For example, it’s common for people who suffer from mental illness to feel shame. People who experience povertyfeel shame because of it. It’s also common for women to feel shame more often than men, and for black people to feel shame more often than white people. To argue that all these people must feel shame because, deep down, they feel like moral failures, we’re assuming that entire populations are suffering from delusion. Maybe the problem isn’t that these cases are irrational. Maybe the problem is that shame isn’t about ideals in the first place.