The image I (shouldn’t have) had about women’s bodies

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My mind is always submerged, overwhelmed by questions about feminism and the image of women in society. Among all the interrogations and concerns I have and wonder about every day…

        Which feminism is the best?                         Which feminism is the best for me?

Is there a feminism better than others?                               Can I judge someone else’s                                                                                                               feminism?  

                                          Why do I only see women preoccupied by feminism?

Why do I feel judged on my body as a woman whereas                                                          men are judged on what is in their brains?

                                    Why do other women judge my body and my decisions about it?                                                                                (aren’t we in the same boat?)

a                Why do we let men take decisions about women’s bodies?

here is the question that popped in my mind and stayed there so long that I had to reflect on it and share my opinion with you, because your answer matters:

Why my* body is in the center of every debate concerning women?

* innuendo: any woman’s body

Let me start with the initiator of my awareness. Ally is a young and sweet woman from Australia. I follow her account on Instagram (@agirlnamedally) for a long time now and I have always loved the messages and positive thoughts she spreads through her colorful pictures. But some weeks ago, one of her photos generated a debate and kept me confused for a while.

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Here are the clouds of thoughts that went through my mind when I was looking at this picture.

1. This picture is beautiful

I fall in love with the colors and the landscape. Nature can be so beautiful, especially at 5am, and it looked so welcoming I wanted to be on that mountain and scream I am the queen of the world! I also loved the friendship behind this, their bodies tanned and free.

2. But, really? Shame on them

Voices in my head were screaming HOW CAN THESE WOMEN ACCEPT TO SHOW THEIR NAKED BODIES TO ANYONE? THIS IS SO DEGRADING! I AM SO SHOCKED! And I put my phone aside…

3. But, you know, I am kind of very curious about the reason they did this, it seems pretty interesting

… And I took it back. I shushed my voices and tried to consider the event with other eyes. I looked at the comments Ally received — very sexist and misogynistic for some of them — and was surprised to read how positive and supportive the others were. And in one sentence, I understood everything : “I’m at a place where I feel completely at peace with the physical shell that encases my soul, and this morning was a beautiful expression of that.”

4. Okay, they are courageous. Definitely.

I found it courageous to share an intimate experience about accepting yourself. I found it courageous to show support to men and women who are lost in their own skins. I found it courageous to assume who you are.

Yes. In one picture, Ally and her friend had totally blew my mind. It was wrong and it was right at the same time.

I was confused.

But we all have that little voice, you know, the one that doesn’t shout to make itself heard, the one that is well thought out, more objective and less deaf than the others.

You are shocked by two women’s bottoms, that’s okay. Now, switch off your phone and watch an episode of Orange is the new black. Or maybe you prefer Game of Thrones? And by the way, you have forgotten to buy milk, so you could go to the store and listen to the last song of Rihanna on the road! Oh, way better! Watch a video of Nicki Minaj!

Well, I think you get the idea. My little voice wanted me to say that I am used to seeing boobs and butts, repeatedly violent sexual scenes in every movie, TV show or magazine, but I can not accept to see two simple and natural women naked and without any ambiguous postures — from the back, moreover. My little voice wanted me to admit the insane paradox that had taken place in my head and here is what was the most difficult to admit for me:

a naked body is not a sexual object

My vision of bodies, and especially naked ones, is influenced by medias and celebrities that advocate an equality between men and women based on stupid arguments (“but men can speak and act like jerks, why can’t women?”) whereas it should be based on respect; they extol a way to emancipate women from a social confinement  they create, and imprison their body image.

But let me ask you this:

Who ever said it is a good compromise to hit women so that we find abnormal they use men as drivers and credit cards?

Who ever said it is nice to call women bitches or hoes so that we let them call men assholes?

Who ever said it is okay to see women almost naked shake their butts everywhere so that we can assure them it is a way to accept yourself and feel confident?

Because of people who use the word feminism without knowing its simplest definition, because of people who show a large spectrum of women’s bodies to make them feel better but who are just using them as sexual objects (no, there is no other word), because of people who don’t want to explain to women that they are much more than a body, my 19-year-old look is imprisoning them, imprisoning me, in a category that should not exist: object not very lovable or desirable without makeup or nice clothes, available at any time for the first person who would dare to be with it.

At that right moment, I am not ashamed of Ally and her friend anymore. I am ashamed of me and of all people who had been fooled by a system I reject.

I remember Cate Blanchett’s angriness against a cameraman who was filming very, very close to her bottom to “show the beautiful dress she was wearing for Oscars”.

I remember Mayim Bialik being judged on her capacities to easily solve calculus whereas she is a neuroscientist.

That system, must known as show business or even politics (French people, remember when Cécile Duflot had been whistled because she was wearing an “ugly” dress at the national assembly) or even scientific world, … tries to make women feel more confident with impossible — and contradictory — advice to follow. You think I am wrong? Just look at tabloids: one day, they tell you to be as natural as Angelina Jolie’s beauty is, and the other day they show you her — just as natural as before — cellulite with a big warning.

You remember, no wooden language. So let me tell you, at that right moment, at that exact period, this system is putting women down. Because they can’t be smart, or as smart as men. Because they can’t keep their bodies private if they want to. Because their beauty has to be natural with makeup, and their outfits sexy but only for their partners — for themselves it is called being egocentric, for other people it is called being a hoe.

I love American movies, TV shows and musics. I love the magic all around. But I am scared of the fake reality that is shown and presented as “my only goal in life”. We reached an extreme, a line that we should not cross. I also love movies with normal people, teen actors that really look like 15-year-olds, and singers who take care of their lyrics before their appearances. The world is made of diversity, I don’t understand why we should eliminate a part of it.

Going back to Ally’s picture, to this simple moment, full of joy, light, acceptance and trust, what makes me sad is that I was only seeing in it the darkest part of society for women. I was seeing something that did not exist in this picture. It was simply not there. It was just in my mind. Why are we so concerned about women’s appearances? Why are we so concerned about the meaning behind their outfits? I personally don’t think women should look at their bodies as if it was the unique et first thing they should concentrate on. They are smart. They are ingenious. They are funny. They are strong. I don’t think, by concentrating on what society has made “the principal issue of women”, we can help them to overcome their complexes. A human being is not only a body. It tries to find balance between positive and negative energies, thoughts and actions.

At that exact right moment, I have found some answers to my question but unfortunately, no real solutions. So, why my body is in the center of every debate concerning women? It is certainly the new way to control women, to make them look at an insignificant topic that requires special advice for every kind of women. As if being beautiful was an obligation to be good at work. Women are on Earth for a reason: appear. I speak about it around me and I hear words I could pronounce myself: “You know what? It seems so normal to me, so normal that women wear what they want, when they want… I don’t really care.” But I don’t want to be like that anymore. Passive. Because my look, my values, my fight for equality and respect don’t seem as natural for others as it is for me.

At that exact right moment, I couldn’t climb Ally’s mountain, take off my underwears and offer my body to the sun. I simply could not. Does it mean I am not allowed to do it? No. Does it mean I will never ever do it? No. And this is what is behind this picture. Your body is yours. It will evolve, as will your perception of it.

Ally never asked me (or any follower) to reproduce her picture.

At that exact right moment, she was simply, and beautifully, and peacefully in harmony with herself. It sounds poetic. It sounds magical. It is true.

Here is what should be seen, and heard, and felt in her picture, and in every body: harmony.

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 Marion

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17 thoughts on “The image I (shouldn’t have) had about women’s bodies

  1. Enlightening post. I’m glad that I checked it out. I was in the same mindset as you when I first saw the image, and now I understand how it can be a source of discourse on body objectification and feminism in society. At the same time, however, I did find the act of photographing oneself nude to be extreme to show a point. Sure, perhaps she’s undermining the system by using the system, but at the end of the day, she’s still being objectified. In other words, I think it’s good that she took the photo to show how it’s okay to be “natural” and accepting of one’s body, but as a society we still can’t wrap our minds about the double standard of objectifying women- in the media and in real-life.

    Don’t know if my thoughts made sense, but in any case, I enjoyed the read.

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    • Thank you very much!
      In fact, when she posted this picture, she didn’t explain why, she just said it was a beautiful morning and a peaceful moment with a friend. Nothing more. Then, people left negative comments, she had to explain herself and she hadn’t even thought of this picture as an objectivation of her body. People interpreted her act in a certain way but if you look closely at the photo, you don’t see anything more than two women’s backs. As you said, “she is being objectified” by people’s eyes but she doesn’t objectify herself. In this case, I would blame the interpretation more than the action. But yes, I totally understand what you mean and thank you for sharing your opinion with me!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I definitely agree with your sentiment that a naked body is not a sexual object. Sex is about so much more than just nudity. Women regardless of how they dress are not sexual object,s they are human beings. It’s so easy to say things like this, but in practice it is difficult to internalize and act on in day to day life. That’s why it’s important to make an effort to get to know someone first, because regardless of how they appear, they have their own thoughts, emotions, feelings, and experiences too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Unfortunately if in the picture they had more stretch marks and cellulite and fat the story would have been totally different. That is the only thing most people notice. If women do not have the 3 things I mentioned they can do anything otherwise shame on them. That is my biggest concern not human being exposed naked.

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      • People make big fuss mostly if they see naked ladies with fat, cellulite and stretch marks. If like the 2 girls in the picture they have an almost perfect shape it is not big deal. Nudity should be accepted in all its forms. thanks for asking

        Liked by 1 person

      • The girls received bad comments and were insulted because of this picture and yes, I am sure they were not called “fat”. They received comments about their action (showing their naked bodies), but they were not judged on their bodies. As you say, if they had been fat, they would have received comments about their shapes, not about their nudity. In one case, they are called bitches, in the other they are called blimps. In both cases, they receive horrible comments. At the end, I totally agree, I don’t understand why we judge people on their bodies, whether they are naked or not. Thank you for your words!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “A naked body is not a sexual object”
    Thank the lord, finally a post about bodies that I can read without cringing… and agree with! It’s great that you wrote this, and even though I may have had a few little things I would’ve added, it was really good to read your opinion on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Yes, there are certainly many things to add and some are in my mind, but I didn’t want to make a too long post. I will speak about bodies again and again until there is a change of our perception on them (and this will not happen tomorrow).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the naked body. No matter how old more so in art and beauty not pornish. In some country people are more open with their body and their sexuality. I love it when people have confident in themselves no matter or big or little they are. Some society scream put on clothing or only accept one with the so call perfect body then it is allow. I say screw that love your body, love yourself, your body is a work of art.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. interesting article…I’m always looking for different views on this topic.

    I too usually cringe immediately when I see a woman parading her naked body on instagram. I can agree that the body isn’t a sexual object in itself, and that the objectification happens within one’s interpretation.

    but [hopefully this makes sense] a part of me feels like if you KNOW a naked body is generally sexualized, you know the statement you’re making by choosing to portray your naked body. It’s one thing if it’s a necessary natural act, like breast-feeding: a woman needs to feed her child, and to inject sexualization there is totally unnecessary and inappropriate–she didn’t solicit that by attemtping to breastfeed her child.
    But if you’re naked in a public space–which we can all agree is neither “normal” nor really necessary–I can’t help but feel like you’re choosing to be an exhibitionist under the guise of “feminism”. And it bothers me.

    Sure, someone has to break the mold, and I guess that’s where my argument falls flat…why shouldn’t these women each individually do their part to normalize the naked body right? Idk, I’m sure there’s probably something problematic about my thought process that I welcome anyone to help me expand my perception on with a reply;) lol

    but anyhoo, I’m babbling and that probably made no sense haha but mostly just came to say thanks for your perspective! I’m new to your page, but enjoying it ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I think my point of view will change into several years. It is how it works, your opinions evolve all the time and what I write right now may horrify me later. I like that you are trying to find your own opinion! You are a curious person, it is very interesting! I totally can relate to you making a cringe. I sometimes find naked pictures very beautiful and others very embarrassing because I don’t understand their purpose. I am still trying to make a clear opinion on this subject… but I think you understand how complicated it is! And you are right, we put everything behind the word “feminism” now. It is really annoying because it allows people to say and do anything. The only thing you can do to expand your view is to read and speak with other people. It is the best way. :) Thank you so much for your long and constructive comment! And thank you, I am glad you enjoy my writing ♥

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