There is no doubt that the female body is beautiful. We've reached a point in our society where women with bodies of all shapes, sizes and colors are celebrated and appreciated more than ever. There will always be an immense amount of pressure put on females regarding their appearance, but today we are encouraged to embrace our bodies despite our imperfections. I love that we are learning to love ourselves. Although, while embracing our bodies as wonderful, I'm afraid that we have turned our acceptance into something much different, and are sending false messages to young girls that could lead to serious consequences.
So often we see celebrities posting photos to social media of themselves completely naked, or posing on the cover of popular magazines with nothing on. If you need to be reminded of some of the ladies who have taken it all off, just click here - but realize that these pictures are definitely NSFW. Some of us may roll our eyes with judgment when we see these images, and others may admire the fearlessness it takes to be that vulnerable. Kim Kardashian recently sparked quite the controversy when she posted a nude selfie. Even her sister Khloe came out with a book last year titled "Strong Looks Better Naked," where she is pictured lying down on a bed with only a sheet covering her. These women often comment that they felt liberated or empowered after ditching their clothes, but is what they felt empowerment or is it the rush of doing something a little scandalous - a little wild - and getting a ton of attention for it? While it is true that every woman has a choice of how many (or how little) clothes she wears, it doesn't mean that we should bare it all and label it as empowerment, and here's why.
1. When we say that nudity is empowerment, we are telling girls that to be given authority, they have to take it all off. The word "empower" literally means "to give power or authority to." When we congratulate women for getting naked on a public platform and call it empowerment, we are essentially communicating to young girls that the only way they can gain power is by using their bodies to their advantage, and this could not be farther from the truth. Respect and authority is given based on character, perseverance, talent and many other factors that have absolutely nothing to do with being naked.
2. In the "real" world, posting nude photos will actually hinder you before it will help you. I think we can all agree that celebrities live in a different type of world than the rest of us. Depending on their status, they can get away with pretty much anything - licking donuts that aren't theirs (will Ariana Grande ever live that down?), canceling entire tours, getting into clubs while underage, even federal crimes - so of course a naked photo won't affect them too much, other than giving them more fame and attention. When it comes to us "regular" girls - you know, the ones working two jobs while going to school full time and trying to land our dream job - posting a photo like those of Kim K, her sister and countless other female celebrities would definitely be a horrible move for us. Not only would our relationships with family, friends and bosses suffer - but our future careers would be put on the line - maybe never exist. In college we often hear our professors and advisers telling us to "watch our social media presence." This usually means that we should refrain from posting anything that might look bad to a future employer. Naturally, posting a naked picture (or even a half-naked picture) could put all that we've worked so hard for on the line. So why in the world do we tell girls that nudity is empowering and liberating when stripping down could cost us almost everything?
3. Women spend way too much time battling objectification to label nudity as empowerment. It's nearly impossible to flip through a magazine, watch television or walk through Times Square without being bombarded with images of naked women. Often times, the same women who call out advertisers for using the female body to sell products are the same women praising female celebrities for stripping down. Women are faced with sexual harassment on a regular basis - at work, at school or simply walking on the street. We complain about being viewed as sexual objects, but then praise the latest female celebrity for taking her clothes off. We say, "Wow, she's so brave!" "She's empowering women everywhere!" "Look at how liberated she must be," and then wonder why we are viewed solely as sexual objects. Some argue that nudity is empowering because it's a woman's choice, but it's unrealistic to expect an end to objectification while simultaneously supporting women who take off their clothes for the whole world to se
4. Men don't have to take their clothes off to feel empowered, so why should women? I have never seen a man pose naked on the cover of a magazine or post a naked photo on social media and then say that he felt empowered by it. Of course there are male musicians, models and actors who have stripped down, but they never say it's because they are looking to feel a sense of authority or liberation. They most likely did it for the money, the attention or because they really just couldn't care less who saw them naked. When we equate nudity to empowerment, we are basically negating all of the other ways that women can feel empowered - and there are many, many ways to feel empowered that don't involve dropping every last bit of clothing you have. I think we can all (men and women) find empowerment by taking control of our lives, making healthy lifestyle choices, developing good relationships, setting both personal and career goals, making a difference in our communities, etc. We need to put an end to the notion that women can find empowerment through nudity.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with a woman having pride in her body. I'm so glad that we live in a world where we can openly celebrate our bodies and don't feel ashamed of our curves, freckles, lines and stretch marks. However, we need to start sending the message to girls that empowerment and pride comes from their sharp, creative minds and beautiful souls, not their naked bodies.