I had taken some photos in my bra + shorts (it’s 31° today, in England) on my new Polaroid camera. They were cool, they were sexy. I looked good, I felt good.
I, impulsively, posted them on my private Instagram. And then very quickly deleted them.
Now, I only have 60 followers on Instagram, but my anxiety went UP.
I started catastrophically thinking. What if someone wants to be nasty and send them into my sixth form? What if someone keeps them and gives them to a future employee?
I struggle with paranoia now, after what I went through last year. Expecting the worse is a safety mechanism, I guess. My body, my mind, could not cope with another traumatic effect: it wants safety, and safety is what is going to help me heal.
I also was questioning my morals a lot. Like, why am I doing this? What is it for?
Part of me felt as if it was the fact that I just want to feel confident in my body. I want this fear-based thinking gone, this looming insecurity that can ruin my day in a millisecond. In fact I need it to be gone.
I wanted to do what I wanted to do, without letting other people’s opinions and beliefs censor that. After all, this isn’t murder we are talking about. This is a personal choice that does not catastrophically affect anyone else; if someone accused me of affecting them through the way I’d dress, I imagine they would have overestimated the power of me and underestimated the danger of them.
So, then I was like: would I actually walk around, in public, wearing a bra and shorts? Would I let people see my underwear at all? And if I didn’t, why the hell not? Because people would stare? Because it would be inappropriate? Am I not hypocritical for posting something I would NEVER do in real life? Am I not hypocritical for posting something when there is no way I could stand in my underwear, in front of my peers? Is there any way I wouldn’t feel embarrassed if other people looked at the images, in my presence?
I guess that’s because social media is an insight in our life, behind closed doors. So, really, it isn’t about that anyway.
It’s all well and good posting things on social media: it removes us a reality away from the reality. Kind of gives the same effect dissociation does.
I think I want privacy, you know? I think I want that.
And then I was thinking, why is lingerie different from a bathing costume? Why is it, my friends can show their bums on social media, in a bikini, and I can’t show off my cleavage and stomach?
What is the moral line between lingerie and a swimming costume?
Another part of me was also like: “If I don’t show what I have, I will regret it.” But, there it is. The battle between the ego, and the soul.
What I would regret, is not showing other people.
And, ‘what if’, I regret forcing myself to be something I’m not?
How could I regret feeling comfortable, feeling confident in what I chose to wear. How could I regret having a ball of a time when I go out, because I didn’t dress in a way that made me feel insecure?
Is this where I accept something within myself, rather than pushing myself to be something I’m not?
Does this go past feminism? Isn’t the advocacy for body confidence merely just the demand to make a choice between modesty and nudity? Surely it’s not demanding I be nude? Or be modest? Surely, it’s just allowing me to make a choice about the way I choose the express myself, whatever gender I am?
Although I wanted to, predominantly, post that picture to make a stance about a female’s body, because I always felt that the more I showed, the less there was to me – and I wanted to change that. Was it actually a reflection of me? Or was it more fraudulent to post something so bold, and flake when it came to manifesting that rebellion in my real, present day life?
Because even though I, as a woman, believe I have a moral obligation to empower myself, and those around me, to break the chains that were made to imprison a woman, I am also a person. I am not just a woman. I am much more than gender could ever confine.
I am a soul, with insecurities, and confidences. I love parts of myself, and love others less. I have my own approaches, my own individual path to follow.
And it’s not that my body is a gift to give, it’s not that it is a prized possession to be possessed. It is a fragile thing, with a lot of fear in it. It has been bruised and violated. It is something that is at its best, when it feels safe. And maybe, that’s okay. Maybe it’s okay to give into what my body wants. And it needs care, not force.
Again: it needs care, not force.
Posting a picture to tell others, my body is not theirs, is meaningless. I cannot tell anyone what else to think. I may be able to influence them, yes, only if my truth speaks to something within them, that only they are responsible for. But, I could say it till I’m blue in the face, and there will be a person, maybe more, who does not treat my body the way that I want them too, the way I feel they should do.
Who does need to believe it, who does need to oblige and listen and respect it, is me. Posting that picture? Does nothing for me. Absolutely nothing. It just puts a penetrable space between me, and them. It’s not real vulnerability, it’s just ignoring how I really feel and getting on with it, till all that is compressed… rots and spews out in so many other ways when I’m older.
What I really need to do is find me. By acknowledging I can empower myself with either nudity and modesty. And find where I am on either side of that spectrum, or between that, away from everyone else. And, then, then I shall see where I slot into society. How I can manifest me.
I can absolutely encourage others to be exactly what they want to be, against the odds and the persecution their peers lead against their personal + harmless choices, WITHOUT needing to join.
I will join, when I know it is what my body wants. When I know it is a deep desire for me. And not some moral obligation I am obliged to carry out. That will take time, and less thinking, with more feeling.
That, that is my middle ground.
I think it is okay to reject the things that cause me to overthink and stress. I think it is okay to want peace. And I don’t think I could ever regret that.
So… to conclude … If I can’t do it in real life, I shouldn’t set a false expectation on my social media. And I don’t need to berate myself for that. What I need to do, first and foremost, is cultivate confidence and positivity, and see where that leads me 😽
She told the world, not only could they not have better, they would also be the agent of their own demise – and that this, this was inevitable.
I just had to write a blog about this.
I have recently been binging the old and world-loved series, Sex and the City. Currently on season 3, episode 9 – and, yes, I have got here in just under four days.
But, having been completely outraged by season 3, episode 9, I had to channel my emotions somewhere.
Carrie Bradshaw slept with Big. Carrie Bradshaw slept with Big after finding the perfect boyfriend, who treated her better than Big ever could. Carrie Bradshaw crumbled after Big said he was leaving his wife for her, whilst drunk, and then told, whilst Big was sober, he wasn’t leaving her because the divorce would be too expensive. Carrie Bradshaw gave up a year of healing from a man who would not marry her, who then married another woman in less than three months. Carrie Bradshaw sabotaged her own future by sleeping with Big after telling her he ‘didn’t know’, but that he missed her, that he loved her, after he forced himself upon her and followed her whilst she was running away – evilly knowing she would crumble.
We all sat there, me, my mum, my sister, shouting at the computer screen as if Carrie could hear us. My sister refused to watch the show again and claimed Carrie was the most disgusting character she knew. My mum, even though she watched the show years ago, when I was just a toddler, ran out of the room in despair. And I, sat there, motionless, almost a little heartbroken myself. But, why? Why did this affect every single woman in my household?
Because all of us were Carrie.
My mum was a manifested version of Carrie’s ultimate downfall; me and my sister the product of that. And, as if it was in our DNA, I, myself, had chased after my heart in someone else’s hands – to the detriment of my own well-being, far past heartbreak. My sister had watched, growing up, the women around her fail, fail because of men – beyond immediate family.
So, were we angry at Carrie because we were angry at ourselves? Were we angry at Carrie, because we were scared of our own innate potential to be like her? Was it a way of distancing ourselves from our own hubris in flesh?
I wondered: I have always struggled with where the line is where it comes to tolerance in relationship. Me? I’ve always had a high one: I was the caretaker in my family. And I’ve been brought up to always try to understand why people do what they do. He couldn’t commit because someone broke his heart, he couldn’t do this because of x and y and z. And so on. But, truthfully? All it has EVER done is cause pain, deep pain – and allowed me to be taken advantage of. Granted, yes, I may have been understanding the wrong people, projecting some sort of humane explanation onto them – where humanity is lacked. And truthfully, I do it because I know I would always want to be understood.
I saw this in Carrie too.
But understanding is difference from tolerance, isn’t it? And empathy is difference from pity, isn’t it?
And, is there not two people in every situation? What about me? Why do we both forget about me?
What I did not have to wonder about, however, is the fact that Sex and The City failed all women. The lot of us. And instead, championed every single man that, my sworn arch enemy, Big represents.
Carrie marries Big.
What is worse, is that Big calls off the wedding by abandoning Carrie at the Church. And, again, after a whole year of immense pain and depression, Carrie marries Big.
And they live happily, ever, after.
I could not help but think the whole series, and sequential films, endorsed this damaging, backward fantasy that women must earn the love of a man, through self-sacrifice that could very realistically push anyone off the side of a cliff. This absurd fantasy that a man will eventually change for the woman that he loves. The bitter belief that having a wholesome, available and fully-ticked checkbox man, like Aidan – who Carrie cheated on for cheating, unavailable and abusive Big -, would never be fulfilling for any woman. And merely because they do not give us the ‘same butterflies’.
I was insulted. Almost violated.
The realisation that women are expected to transform a failure of a human being into a husband, was beyond me. It disgusted me. And, truthfully, I was angry at their mothers, their fathers. Their nature.
Sure, some men do change for their partners – but not without all the aforementioned grief. And is that type of relationship ever truly healthy, anyway? But it’s sad because, I’m sure that for most of the time – a woman is pursuing this man to fulfil her own dysfunction, not because of who he presently is. It’s an insult to both parties, isn’t it?
Now, this is not a spiteful, hateful speech aimed at the male species. It is also aimed at women like Carrie, women like me – and the damage they do to men like Aidan, who never even deserve it. But, that’s life isn’t it? The people who are damaged by others, in later-life, never do deserve it – they are simply damaged because they are good. Because they can be. Because they’re not far removed and deluded enough to be God- like, like Big. They are real, and here. Right in front of us. But they force us, women like Carrie, women like me, women like my Mum, to confront a very painful wound: Carrie could not bear the insanity of tranquillity, the peacefulness, the healthiness that was in her relationship with Aidan. The truth is, we are scared of being really and truly loved by a person who, if they did ever leave, would render a heartbreak that would take something away from our own soul. Ironically, we are safe with men like Big. We are safe with the predictability of their unpredictability. We are safe with the distance that pining for an acceptance, a validation, that will never be authentically given: we change with men like Big. And so, so are our truest selves.
So, I realised that self-love is not safe at all. I realised that love is, and always will be completely logical (to the opposite of Carrie’s beliefs) – but that a sexual connection will never be, a ‘love’ that disempowers you, and brings you to your knees, will never be either. How could it be, when the only logical thing, is to love ourselves? I’m talking about the self-love that brings the light to all of our darkest demons, our deepest hurts and outcasts them – so that humanity can thrive too. Profoundly, perhaps, we are programmed to self-destruct, despite all these survival instincts. Perhaps we are the masters of our downfalls, and some of us, like Carrie, do indeed fall.
Candance Bushnell, despite her genius legacy, failed all women, who are represented by Carrie. She told the world, not only could they not have better, she told the world they would also be the agent of their own demise – and that this, this was inevitable, inescapable.