Love Your Body Day is quickly approaching; mark your calendars for the National Organization for Women Foundation’s day of acceptance and admiration, happening on October 17th. 2012 marks the event’s fifteenth anniversary.
This October also marks the appearance of plus-size model Robyn Lawley on Cosmopolitan’s Australian cover. Lawley has made Huffington Post and AOL headlines for flaunting her curvy curves. In Cosmo, the size twelve model bares her full figure in a high-waisted bikini. Lawley’s radiance shines from her playful smile to her voluptuous hips.
In honor of the day, I was browsing around on Tumblr, searching women-related tags. I started with #feminism, which provided me with some rather interesting results. I was expecting to find a good number of “I need feminism because” posts and images of Hilary Clinton. I did find plenty of those, which was wonderful, but I also found a good number of cleavage and up-skirt pictures.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If taking off your clothes is your prerogative, and you’re totally cool with it, good for you. But is taking naked pictures of your awesomely awesome goods and sharing it with the WORLD truly an expression of loving your body? I don’t have the answer to this, but I do feel that I’ve seen one too many women be scrutinized, for all the wrong reasons, for sharing their unclothed bodies.
Take Vanessa Hudgens, for example. I’m sure we all remember what happened when her bare-all photo meant only for Zac Efron’s eyes went viral. Especially with Hudgen’s status as a former Disney star, her expression of sexuality was a scandal. More recently, Kate Middleton has came under fire for getting some sun while topless, while she thought she was in private with only Prince William. What these two incidents have in common are privacy and shame.
Both of these women meant to share their bodies solely with their significant others. Because their intentions went awry, they were shamed in the media for showing off their breasts. How poisonous for the general public to see!
The situation changes drastically, however, when one can simply type in #hot or #hott in Tumblr, and receive images upon images of anonymous women uploading photos of their bodies, with a few images of Justin Bieber thrown in for good measure. The uploaders of such images willingly distribute their goods, often without their faces included. Yes, the female form is beautiful, but perhaps it is more beautiful when the photographed woman could comfortably show her face?
I’d avoided joining MySpace for all the reasons I came across while tumbling. After tumbling #hot a number of times, Tumblr conveniently provided me with similarly searchable tags: #teen and #girl. Sure, I’d realized that pornography lost its boundaries with the advent of the Internet Age, and was no longer confined to a low-lit room in the back of a video rental shack. But I hadn’t realized that it was so easily accessible on a blog platform. I’d gotten used to Facebook’s and YouTube’s strict image-sharing policies.
Again, I don’t pretend to have any of the answers as to whether or not Tumblr should allow nudie pictures and/or pornography on their site, or whether or not it’s Hot or Not for women to be uploading body-bearing pics. But I wonder whether the women who do so realize just how much they are relinquishing their privacy. And I’m afraid that the images might be misconstrued by the male gaze or by the media.
For me, it was most depressing to realize how easy it was to access the self-uploaded images, which walk a fine line between self-expression and exploitation.