YOU CAN POST THAT, BUT PEOPLE MIGHT THINK YOU’RE “LOOSE”So imagine, you’ve just done your hair and make-up and you’re wearing a cute new bralet with a matching matte lip. Two years post op, and your boobs are looking perf. Cue the selfie shoot. Multiple shots later, including but not exclusive to duck face pose and head tilt pose. Quick message to Bae.. which of these should I post to my insta? And you know what his reply is... “I don't mind you putting any of those on babe, you look cute in them both. But it does look like you’re in your underwear in your bedroom. I mean, I don’t have a problem with it, you can post that, but other people might think you’re “loose”.
Erm, I’m sorry, excuse me, WHAT?!So what began as an innocent, hot damn I'm feeling myself and I'm advocating my MYA Boobs that made me feel so good and I’m super happy and body confident YAY ME selfie soon descended into an unplanned feminist debate with the other-half about modern day issues of slut shaming, culpability and WHY WOMEN SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEIR BODIES AND EXPECT TO BE SEXUALISED IF THEY SHOW SOME SKIN. His point was that whilst he knows me and knows what type of person I am and that a photo in a bra wouldn't change his opinion of me, those who know me less, may think even less of me by seeing me share pictures of what he believes some guys would believe, are of a “provocative nature”. And it’s my responsibility, as an intelligent woman, to know that men will be aroused by my boobs, or that I will be seen as “loose” by being happy to share them with the world of Instagram and therefore must accept negative attention as I will have attracted it knowingly. It was almost break up material. I say almost, he redeems himself with his immense debating skills which I thoroughly enjoyed participating in, that and his hair looked sexy when it’s pushed back. Anyway, to backtrack. By posting a photo of my boobs, knowing how men think about boobs, I should accept that they will think I am behaving promiscuously? I beg to differ. Surely the ability to dehumanise and judge a woman based on her appearance and clothing (or lack of) defines their character, not mine? As millions of women know all too well, no one ever avoided rape by wearing a longer skirt. Cat calling, Sexual Harassment, Rape. They all pre-date the mini-skirt. Is a scantily clad female just eye candy for men? Is she asking for it because she knows men will see a little more skin and then think it’s okay to sexualise her?
Case Point 1 -The young girl in class whose shirt is maybe a little tight. The boys are laughing and talking about her boobs. When the teacher hears, she tells the girl she has to change her shirt or go to the head to be suspended. Who is accountable?
Case Point 2 -The young girl is told to cross her legs. When she asks her Granny why, Granny says “The boys will look up your skirt!”. Who was there to tell the boys not to look up the skirts?
To tell a woman to close her legs, to cover herself, is to make her feel as though by being born female, with body parts that only females have, that she is already guilty of something just because they are female parts and not male.
HASTAG FREE THE NIPPLE-Like seriously, Instagram, what’s up with that nipple policy? -A topless photo of a guy baring his chest is not a problem, but a women’s bare nipples are deemed offensive? -Why? Because they are sexualised body parts? -Sexualised by whom? Men? Or us as women?
Is it possible to teach people that breasts have evolved over thousands of years for babies, not for men. They are there for our children, not for sexual gratification. It could be argued that boobs are a sexual organ, and so it’s natural for men to think about them sexually. So the feminist ideas to change the way men and even other women think about the female body is a losing battle against thousands of years of evolution, and that men are hard-wired to perceive us in this way. I disagree because before I had my BA with MYA, I was so lacking in the boob department, I’m sure even the Insta Nipple Nazis would have left my bare chest unchecked, with this in mind, I don't recall ever having a sexual experience where a guy wanted to sleep with me any less after seeing my boob-less-ness. Boobs are not the be all and end all. I personally can find a guys’ hands and shoulders and necklines just as attractive and exciting as what’s in his trousers. -Does that mean that men and women should be expected to cover up all body parts because we aren’t civilised enough to control our urges? -My question is, by sharing a selfie in a bralet, am I demeaning myself because I liked the way I looked in a photo? -Must I accept that by posting it I will be judged as superficial, confident, conceited, vain? -The same way a bigger girl may be judged as insecure, lazy, undisciplined?
I’ll never forget how Kelly Osbourne said that she “Took more hell for being fat than I did for being an absolute raging drug addict”. -Bigger girls to bigger questions, is it ingrained in us biologically to judge or, if we are actively aware of the thought process we may fall privy to, can we change our mindset? -Can we change the mindset of others? -Because why should I be defined by the way I look? -Just because I have skin on show should that alter someone’s perception of me that I’m a person who should be taken less seriously? -Or am I being greedy? Is it even possible to have it both ways? -To share myself when I feel great and still not feel that my existence is not defined by how desirable I look?
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IT'S OKAY TO BUY BREASTS BUT NOT TO WEAR THEMWe live in a society where it is illegal for women to go topless in our cities, yet you can buy a magazine of a woman without her top on in almost any news outlet. So you can sell breasts, but you cannot wear them. This means that the context matters. According to my boyfriend, from a guys’ point of view, sharing a candid bikini photo taken on holiday by someone else is seen as standard, but a bedroom selfie is asking for attention. According to him, that’s just how your male peers will read your social media persona. So it’s okay for someone else to appreciate you, but not to blow your own trumpet.
Back to context. It’s okay to use the female body to sell products, to use sexualised images of women to appeal to male consumers, and it’s okay to share your body in photos that are part of work if for example you’re a model or an artist. For example, as part of my work with MYA, if I were to share a breast augmentation related photo it would be more acceptable than posing for my own gratification in my bra. Who makes these rules? -Who is deeming what is right and wrong for us as women? -And are we ourselves creating this culture from our behaviour? -Is it just a simple fact that a girl who is posting photos of herself is more likely to be a bit of a bike than her more conservative contemporaries? -How can we teach men not to over sexualise our body parts if we ourselves are contributing to the problem? Whilst it may be impossible to alter the thought process of all the people on social media, I for one believe and have hope in change. I do think that women can be sexy and “loose” and it not be a bad thing. I’m an optimist. Emma Watson was questioned by a young fan on twitter on what she could do to change her dad's view that engineering was a mans’ profession, her reply was “Become an engineer”.
And so here is what I propose, for all us MYA girls who’ve had surgery and are proud, for all us girls in general who love our bodies some days and hate them on others, for the girls who have a day where they appreciate themselves enough to want to share that confidence for the day, well go ahead and do it. Be that selfie. Don't be what they say about the selfie.