I don't typically write about controversial topics on my blog, but recently I was faced with an overwhelmingly degrading situation and I felt the need to share my experience with any other women who are facing or have faced similar issues. I believe it is important to start a constructive dialogue with today's millennials about female equality and empowerment.
For all of you who know me personally, you know that I am a die hard feminist. *GASP* yes, you read that correct, I AM A MILLENNIAL FEMINIST. Now before you all go making 'angry feminist' jokes, the actual definition of a 'feminist' is as follows - 'A person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes' - and what is so angry about that?
Well the story I am about to recount for you, has indeed (for the moment) made me an 'angry feminist' ironically enough.
Last week, I posted a photo on Instagram of me in my kitchen in LA in my bra and underwear - (BTW the underwear set is by Mary Young, a fellow Canadian girl boss who deserves a shout out, cuz her stuff is insanely comfortable).
(If you don't have access to Instagram, this is the photo up for debate)
So, this past week, I was mid conversation with someone when they decided to make a joke about me needing to wear more clothes in some of my photoshoots. I decided to go on with the conversation and playfully brush that comment off, but then was faced with another confrontational question, which was 'WHY would you post something like that?'
My answer was simple.
Now, I'm not sure which offended the boy I was speaking to more, the actual picture or my response to his question, because after that, he proceeded to slut shame me, accuse me of looking for attention 'doing it for the likes and money' (Instagram likes), and told me that having my body exposed like that was most definitely sexual.
It would be easy to point my finger at this boy and call him sexist and gasp at his ignorance (which I may have done), but honestly half of me doesn't blame him. Not only has our society completely sexualized the female form, but it has also engraved this notion so deeply into our heads that some/most people actually equate an adult female's body with sex. When in reality, it is just a body.
Let me repeat that again - A naked woman does not equal sex, a naked woman equals a naked woman.
The female form NEEDS to be de-sexualized by society, not only because the whole notion of people being shocked and outraged when a woman is comfortable in her body has become tired and stale, but because society has pushed the idea that women must have a motive or intention behind being nude. A woman does not need motive or intention for essentially existing in her own skin.
So to directly answer that boy's question as to 'why I took that photo?' - the answer is : I am a 20-something girl, who is finally proud of and loves her body, which is something SO RARE in today's day and age where society makes it so goddamn easy for women and girls to hate their bodies. It took me a LONG time to feel comfortable in my own skin, so why not fucking celebrate it?
Me being comfortable in my body, has nothing to do with sex or my sexuality. If you happen to interpret it sexually, that is a reflection of you and your thoughts, not of me and my body.
This brings me to my next topic of the ever so popular, 'ATTENTION WHORE'.
With the growth of the Internet, and apps such as Instagram and Snapchat, has also come the growth of women getting called out for seeking attention. Now don't take me for an evil man-hater, women are just as guilty of pointing their fingers at other women labelling them as 'attention whores'. At the beginning of the month, I read an amazing online article published by Glamour Magazine, written by the millennial model/actress/and bad-ass feminist Emily Ratajkowski. Ratajkowski refers to wanting attention and seeking attention as "genderless", and instead as human. She also raises a very valid point that society has a double standard (in terms of attention seeking) that runs so deep that many women keep automatic defences stored in their back pockets so that they can stay ahead of potential critics with justification of anything that they wear/don't wear/say/do/post etc...
Many people will be quick to label Instagram and 'selfie culture' as narcissistic and egotistical, but as I'm sure you could already guess, I am pro 'selfie culture'. I believe 'selfie culture' is empowering as it lets you share images of yourself that you think are beautiful. It also lets you be in control of how the world gets to see you.
One of my friends recently showed me this image. These art sculptures were historically created purely for the male gaze, but suddenly as soon as the cell phone is photoshopped onto it (and 'selfie culture' is insinuated), the woman in this sculpture is seen as vain. The problem here is that society has no issue with looking at a woman's body, but as soon as she takes matters into her own hands and want's to 'show it off' she becomes explicit and self-absorbed.
NOW, If you all don't mind, here are some more 'slutty', 'egotistical', and 'attention-whore-ish' photos from the rest of my shoot - and I think I look fucking fantastic.
COME AT ME.
Illustration by me.