I had an interesting anon question yesterday that got me thinking about my body, and what it means to be a woman in this time and place on earth. I grew up with conflicting ideas being shoved down my throat about my place in the world, and about my behaviour and attitudes being a girl. I was told frequently by teachers to act more ladylike, to play inside with the other girls, to stop coming into class after lunch with mud and grass stains on my uniform, blah. I was torn constantly between wanting to fit in with fellow girls, and wanting to be able to do what the boys were allowed to do. It seemed like no matter how I acted, I was going to be criticised by someone, so I discovered at an early age how very much I DIDN’T care for conformity, because in my eyes, you could never win anyway. I’ve learned to shut out outside judgements because I tend to do exactly what I want to do, and I guess that pisses some people off or makes me an easy target for gossip. And usually, I couldn’t care less, because what I do makes me happy, and being gossiped about for being too bold with how I choose to live and share my life with others really is a small price to pay to be able to enjoy the freedom that comes with refusing to conform to some of the ridiculous social norms that we’ve all grown up with.
But I received an anonymous question yesterday- someone wanting to know my thoughts on the #freethenipple project, and whether or not I have considered posting something revealing to contribute to the project’s goal of stamping out the sexualisation and censorship of female body parts. My original thoughts when I read the question made me really sad. I literally thought in my head “fuck no, I’d never put a picture of my boobs on social media”. But then I got thinking. Are these my thoughts? Or have I been brainwashed by society into being ashamed of my breasts and associating them with promiscuity and sluttiness?
A few months ago, I was down in Byron with a close friend. We were camping on the beach and just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather. It was a totally platonic weekend, and we were just having the happiest, most peaceful time ever. I have a photo from that trip that to me symbolises pure happiness and inner peace. And as you all know, I love to share my photos on a daily basis. But I never posted that photo, because at the time we were skinny dipping, and my breasts are in the shot. Posting that photo, regardless of the innocence and happiness that I associate with it, would have resulted in a lot of negative feedback, and I can say almost with certainty that someone would have labelled me a “skank” or a “slut”. Without even being conscious of it, I was conforming to this crazy, outdated idea that breasts should be covered and hidden from the world. But WHY must they be covered? Men don’t have to cover theirs, so to say that women must cover up is, when you think about it, blatant sexism. And I, a strong, open minded female with a fierce sense of social justice, had fallen for this social construct without even realising it.
I have a wonderful group of girl friends, and we spend heaps of time together. We get ready for nights out together, and none of us feel the need to leave the room to get changed, as we all figure that there’s no need, because it’s not like any of us have a garden gnome down there. I don’t see my friends as “slutty” or “promiscuous”, just because I’ve seen their breasts. So why can a guy upload a shirtless photo with no consequences attached, but us girls can’t do the same?
I still don’t know how I feel about posting a topless photo on social media. I don’t want to do it just for the sake of it, and I don’t know if enough people on my Instagram are mature enough to understand the difference between viewing essential body parts that every human being has, and viewing something sexual. I don’t want to be seen as a go-to-blog for guys who just want to gawk at my body parts, or for girls to judge so that they feel “classier” or “better” or “more self respecting” than me. I just want my body parts to be respected and accepted. And at the moment, I really don’t know how to go about making that happen.