Let’s talk about naked bodies.
I had a complete existential crisis today.
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 😽