Last week I was blessed to have been on vacation in the beautiful state of Hawaii. It was my first time there and while on the beaches, I observed that this tropical island had a high volume of fruit other than coconuts. What I saw was quite a few “peaches” thanks to the growing trend of more skin exposure in bikini bottoms.
I have to say I felt a mix of emotions.
Initially I was shocked. Before this I’d only ever seen one woman in a thong-style bottom at the beach, a few years ago, and she was foreign. This Hawaiian beach was filled with so many that my typical-coverage bottoms were now part of the minority.
Next I was grossed out. There was actually a nude beach on just the other side of the hill. Go there if you are that comfortable baring yourself because I am not that comfortable seeing it.
Then I quickly chastised myself for judging. I don’t exactly love my body. If I looked as good in that kind of swimwear and felt good about myself in it, maybe I would be showing off my assets as well. Rock on, ladies.
In due course, however, I spotted a mother taking pictures of two teenage girls with their behinds facing the camera as they looked out at the ocean, pretending to be candid in this style of bottoms. It was then that I understood my real issue with the fashion trend.
It’s not that the young women were wearing these bottoms. It’s not even that the young women were taking pictures in these bottoms. It’s that I knew exactly why the young women wore these bottoms and had someone take a picture of them from behind.
I would be willing to bet my entire life savings that this picture was posted somewhere on Instagram. And that is what troubles me.
Now- before I’m attacked- be aware that I am one of the biggest (probably, sometimes most annoying) feminists that I know. I have my own Instagram account. I give out “likes” the way Oprah gives out cars. Feeling proud of your curves? Where’s the LOVE option for me!? Lost weight? Let’s see that transformation, girl! Just feeling beautiful for once and posting a shameless selfie? (EVEN IF IT’S NOT SUNDAY) Hey now we’re talking about me.
I get it. In these pictures, personally speaking, you don’t even care if names change to a heart with numbers (i.e. 11 or more people liked it). It is difficult being female. Go ahead and post that picture. You deserve to be proud of yourself and feel empowered af.
But here’s the thing about posting your “cake by the ocean” IG, it simply is not empowering for women.
Too many times, it is not even posted for the most important woman, yourself.
Have you ever seen a picture on social media of an attractive male, only to be immediately turned off because he posts numerous (key word here) selfies, shirtless and flexing in a mirror? He could be the spitting image of Zac Efron, but once you see the level of narcissism you’re thinking, “Whyyyyyy?” You can now guess his personality and want no part of it.
I think the problem with feminism is that we cannot address this issue without facing backlash- Hell it has taken me over a week to write this, after consulting all of the males and females ages 15-50 that I could find.
Because we cannot socially evaluate a female’s way of promoting herself, we are letting the narcissistic ones continue to share their “Hair appreciation post” with their backs arched so far out their hair is the last part of them we begin to appreciate, especially in the summer when they’re likely in a bikini. Or the females who are “Smiling because I deserve to,” but their cleavage is taking up 70% of the picture. In these cases, you are not owning your sexuality. You are selling it.
Unlike the male flexing in the mirror, the female is going to garner a great deal of “positive” attention. That attention comes in the form of likes or comments, and those likes or comments are seen as value. For the narcissistic female, this feeds her ego and sets off a feedback loop of posting more photos.
Who cares? Well her friends might. Her little sister might. Her little sister’s friends might. Now, we have all of these adolescent girls, who are not (yet) narcissistic, following suit because they feel like this is their ticket into popularity or happiness.
Let me just remind you, it isn’t.
My young, female, cousins have Instagram accounts. Albeit I am disheartened that at ages 13, 10, and 9, they have been instilled with the notion that getting likes on a picture is synonymous with being liked as a person, I need them to know that they do not EVER need to sexualize themselves for likes on a fucking app to feel that they are worthy.
Women. We have been fighting for hundreds of years trying to be seen as equal. We have voices and thoughts and bodies that we should never feel ashamed of expressing. But keep in mind the goal you are setting out to accomplish before you use them. Keep in mind yourself as a kid and be the woman that would inspire her.
And if you feel you meet that goal, go ahead and post that damn picture, girl.