To every woman who has posted a picture of her body online,
I’ve gotta speak up about something. Something that’s been bothering me, and I know that it’s been bothering a lot of you, too.
I want to talk about the comments that we receive from strangers whenever we post about our bodies online.
Positive and negative. Encouraging and vulgar. Praising and threatening.
Let me tell you a little about my perspective: In posting pictures of my body online, I intend to help, support and encourage women to embrace the beautiful diversity of the female form; make peace with their “flaws” and latch onto the idea that there’s no right/wrong way to be a woman. It’s for those women as much as it is a bold declaration to myself that I, a deeply flawed and imperfect woman, am capable of embracing all that makes me, me! That it’s possible to feel like an absolute bombshell even though I’m far from perfect – something that I always felt was impossible, and I know that so many other women have experienced, too. My posts are letters of empowerment, self-love and the radical idea that we are all enough, right here and right now.
This attracts some amazing women sharing their stories and love with me, which I am SO SO SO SO grateful for (seriously, y’all are amazing!) and I love that.
“Hey sexy ;)”
“DM me gorgeous”
“Lemme lick dem tits”
“You should gain/lose weight, I like big/small girls!”
This. This is what I’m not okay with.
Having to reply with “I’m not single” being the only way to shut down someone messaging something vulgar is what I’m not okay with.
Since when is “I’m not interested” not enough? Since when does not responding to someone’s vulgar sexualisation of our form warrant threatening behaviour from them? Since when is it the individual’s fault if they’re victimised or fetishised against their consent?
And no matter how many times you get into the rhythm of blocking sexual or abusive commenters, it doesn’t hurt any less.
I’ve spoken to many of you who’ve voiced your concerns over the comments that you receive from men. I’ve chatted with you, discussed with you and commiserated with you… and in most cases, the conversation has come to a place of dismissing our own concerns with questions of “Should we just be flattered that someone found us hot?”
We’ve assumed that it was just a normal conclusion to come to, but we’ve failed to see that it’s an integral component of victim-blaming.
Women are fed the narrative that we always “should” be pleased that people are attracted to us. But that’s absurd. We owe no-one a medal for finding us attractive, because:
- Attraction is a two-way street. Someone finding you appealing does not imply your consent to interact with them.
- Being attractive is not your life’s work.
- A violation of your personal boundaries is never a compliment.
I’m so damn sick of seeing the mentality that every embracing of the female form needs to be validated by male approval.
I’m not here for strangers to jerk off over. I’m not here to debate with people on whether I should cover up or strip off. I’m not here for anyone’s sexual gratification.
You’re not here for that either.
I, and every other woman just trying to embrace her flaws and her body, deserve not to be reduced to just a pair of tits and ass.
Even if we choose to reveal our bodies, revelation in one context does not imply an invitation for revelation in other contexts.
A bikini selfie is not consent to softcore porn. An artistic nude is not consent to an inbox full of dick pics. Simply talking about one’s body does not imply that others are entitled to own a piece of it.
Here’s the thing: despite the way that pop culture presents it, nudity does not have to be inherently pornographic or sexual.
It’s just your body.
My body, like everyone else’s, is just my body.
Your body, just like everyone else’s, is just your body.
It does not define me, nor does it define you. Our bodies are our homes. They were our homes long before we even knew what sex was, and they will continue to be our homes forever. They’re not something to be invaded, used or passed around; and us daring to embrace our female form as a bold act of rebellion against a culture that profits from insecurity is certainly not an invitation to have our thoughts and opinions dismissed.
This has been a somewhat difficult concept for me to fully take hold of.
I, like most women with an opinion on the internet, have been subject to abuse and threats and like many of those women, I too have fallen victim to the mentality that any online message from a man that isn’t a rape threat/death threat/personal attack should be celebrated.
And I’ll admit, I’ve certainly found it nice to have complimentary messages from men thrown my way, instead of threats or personal attacks. And on occasion, I’ve found myself feeling… dare I say it…. flattered.
Honoured that someone would find little old me attractive. Excited that, although unwanted, someone thought that I was hot enough to send a dirty message to.
But then I thought long and hard about it, and I realised the trap that I was falling into.
I was surprised that anyone was attracted to me. I felt validated to be told that I was good enough to be chosen.
This wasn’t even about me. This was symptomatic of a culture where a woman is considered to be at her most worthy when she’s a sexual object.
This was yet another example of mixed messages. This was, at it’s finest, simply another reinforcement of the messages that past relationships had lead me to believe – that I was lucky to have anyone at all and if I could convince anyone that I was attractive, I should hold onto them and hope that they’re too blind to see that they could do better.
Yikes. Hey there, former toxic thinking!
You see, for much of my life, I believed that if I could be desirable to men, I’d be able to know that I was attractive.
I didn’t realise that my own attractiveness, worth and validation needed to come from within – so I sought it from elsewhere. Needless to say, that way of thinking did nothing to increase my confidence.
These days, I know better.
I’ve learned that my true value is inherent; I’ve learned that I have the power to shape the meaning behind my body from “sex object” to “self-empowerment tool” and I’m willing to accept nothing less than the respect I deserve to give myself.
The respect that I deserve from others.
The respect that you deserve, too.
We are more than our bodies, and our bodies perceived attractiveness or sexuality does not invalidate the worth of our minds, our opinions, our thoughts or our feelings.
We are not before/after photos. We are not amateur porn wannabes. We are not sluts/teases/whores for daring to embrace our bodies, our stories and our struggles in the capacity that we see fit.
We are human. We are living, breathing beings. We are real. And we deserve to be treated as such.
Never let anyone else dictate how you should find your self worth. Never consent to anyone else defining you. Never put up with any comments that you’re not comfortable with, for whatever reason.
Never stop embracing, loving and accepting yourself – however it makes sense to you.
Ladies, show your support. If you know someone who you think would benefit from reading this, please Tweet it out below or hit the share buttons on the left of the page. And, if you have a story that you want to share – please join my Instagram community & share your story with me. It’s a safe space, and it’s space for you to feel comfortable and empowered in.You are MORE than your body! Click To Tweet