// women. bodies. empowerment. and wtf is going on.
Recently, a photo was taken off IG, of cartoon woman doing yoga, with nipples. Pretty offensive, I know. A drawing of nipples just isn’t safe. Banter aside…it brings up some issues I’ve been dealing with from time now.
If you follow me on snap chat, I think I’ve spoken briefly on this… and how conflicting and confusing it all is. “Women’s empowerment” has turned into women in underwear, bare ass cheeks out to show “body acceptance” and self exploitation as a means of liberation. It’s all very confusing. It’s all complicated. It’s worrisome that something as natural as nipples are seen as a problem, and so much else we see on social media isn’t a problem. It’s uncomfortable these standards and what is acceptable and what isn’t can trigger people’s insecurities, and cause unrest and upset in our sometimes fragile struggle to love ourselves.
So… here we go.
part #1 // I had a lot of questions
Why is one woman seen as “empowered” and another is immediately “sexualized”? // Women objectify themselves and call it empowerment, what is really going on here? // Are we conditioned to want to objectify ourselves? (for validation, through society pressures, etc.) // Why is “empowerment” just curvy women in underwear? // Why is a slim model with her nipples out, basically nude “artistic” and not “slutty”? // Why does a body shape that triggers someone else’s sexual urges mean that body type is not safe and should be censored?
Sadly the internet is dictating what women should look like, and what she exposes, the more she shows, the more “love” she gets. It’s no secret we as women can play into it, as a means of validation or something we might be looking for, even if it is just to “fit in” to this society at large standard of what is valuable and worthy. Some believe self objectification can be an “positive” at times, but is a double edged sword in terms of how it makes you feel about yourself and where your focus lies. Read more about that here.
“Objectifying women communicates not only that women's value lies in their appearance, but they also present an ideal of attractiveness that is unattainable for most women. These unrealistic standards can lead to feelings of body shame and disgust, and to unhealthy eating and exercise behaviors.”
Others argue that there is no benefit or gain in women sexualizing themselves because it plays into beliefs we have been fighting for years as women. Read more about that opinion here.
Granted these are all opinions. Some statistical data, sure, but opinions. My thoughts here are nothing more than me trying to make sense of why our bodies are always an issue, and why we, as women, are always at war with what to do or not to with our bodies and the messages we are told and tell ourselves.
part #2 // sorry not sorry and why we need to stop apologizing
In my own personal experience, growing up, I had such hate for my body. All the depression and anxiety, and hurt and disappointment I might have experienced during my youth, I took out on my body. I turned against it as the one thing I could control. Eating disorders are mental issues, rarely having anything to do with food or the body. I had to fix my mind, before my body was no longer an enemy. Finally being comfortable in your own skin feels amazing….and yet so damned at the same time. The one thing I didn’t want to have shame and guilt about (my body) starting becoming a source of shame and guilt as an adult because I was constantly sexualized and objectified.
On one level, I thought, well isn’t this a strong act of empowerment? Saying this is my body and I can do what I want with it, wearing as little or as much as I want? On another, I was told I was too sexual, can’t possible be serious about yoga, and must just be selling porn (yeah, things really said.) Since when did my level of intelligence change or my qualifications and years of practice disappear because I have a body? If my nipples are covered, am I suddenly smarter than I was before? If I don’t have a curvy figure, am I “better at yoga”? These very stereotypes and bull shit are why I started #trillyoga.
So I tried to remain as modest as possible to better fit in this mold of what was “ok” and “acceptable.” But I got tired. I got really tired of being scared of my own body. I got tired of having to hide my female shape that I had worked to love and accept. I strive for nothing more than to be real and authentic, and show that you can be whatever you want, and still come to yoga…come to wellness…come to a better place of knowing yourself and loving yourself.
Empowerment to me is whatever is “empowering” to you. Some are empowered by being nude. Some are empowered by being covered up. It’s very much open for interpretation as we all live different lives, in different spaces and environments of conduct. We also cannot control the judgements of others coming from their places. More about empowerment and self, coming soon.
What we need to do is stop shaming and blaming and judging women on their bodies and what they choose to do with them. Especially as women. We are more hurtful to each other than men might ever be. Sure, men’s views or treatment of women is another thing all together, but there are so many layers to that as well.
This is all to say. We all have bodies, and it is up to us to decide what is and isn’t ok for us. We can all work and live and play, as we see fit in the bodies we have, without shame or guilt. Am I too sexy for yoga? No. And neither is any other woman with a body.
We also need to stop apologizing for being human and having bodies. I’m not sorry I posted a cartoon with nipples. I'm not sorry to have nipples, either. I’m not sorry to have side rolls. And I’m not sorry that I look tired sometimes and have no idea how to draw my eyebrows on. I notice, especially as a woman, we tend to apologize for our bodies way more than we should as if they are only to be seen or tolerated when they look a certain “acceptable” or “pleasing” way. It creates nothing more than a feeling of less than, and that is no way to live. There is no empowerment there.
part #3 // putting it all together.
So. Maybe. Society and social media have problems I can’t figure out. Maybe there are a lot of judgments I can’t control. But I can control how I much I practice love to myself and others. I can figure out what is empowerment for me, and work from that place of power. I can help others not feel shame and guilt about their bodies. We can all do that. We can all let go of outdated stereotypes and stigmas, and maybe realize female’s bodies aren’t the enemy but our mindsets can be.