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On Feminism and Sexy Selfies: Why I don’t Think Your Nudes are Pro-Women.

I once took an image like this in a round mirror. Instead of my face it was my bare form in the captured reflection. At the time I was newly divorced from the only person I’d ever slept with. I was newly vulnerable and dating and I was newly proud of my human experience.

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Sharing my body felt liberating, exciting and I wanted other women with my body to feel the relief that I felt when I saw other women sharing their form at that time. Even as I started this self-portrait series I’ve taken images of myself half clothed and I’ve chosen to not share nude images that I’ve taken. I’ve posed for numerous photographers nude or scantily dressed.  I’ve chosen to share some and not to share others. I once wrote a blog titled, “The Case For The Sexy Selfie.”

Recently,  a young girl came into my periphery. She’s not someone I know and I can’t claim to understand her motivations. But, I know that my heart turns when I see photos of her. She’s still in the formative years of her life and she is sharing images of herself that she will never be able to take back.

I see her posting images of herself like taking a drug. Posting for the latest dose of self-esteem and then watching her crash and post sad heart wrenching messages until it’s another ’empowered’ selfie. Chasing the high of compliments and lewd remarks toward your body is the furthest from being empowered that I can imagine.

I think we like to call it feminism. We like to call it empowerment. But, I’m curious who we are serving truly. Are we being pro-women? Is this the feminism I want to claim? Am I pandering to the patriarchy and desperately trying to hold onto my self-worth as it is defined by men and commercialism?

I want to be the kind of woman who’s known for my brilliance. I want to be bold and fearless and motivated. I like feeling beautiful and so I decided what that meant to me and I choose to live a life that’s beautiful.

Do you know what beauty is to me?

Speaking to people with tenderness. Connecting people to each other. Sharing a kind word if I have one. Showing grace. Passionately pursuing a life that makes me vibrate with joy. Offering an open heart to those who are struggling. (we are all struggling) Willingness to hug someone until they no longer feel the pain. Knowing why I choose the actions that I take. Wearing things that feel amazing on my body or make me smile when I look at them. Treating my body with respect by eating well, exercising and not sharing myself with unworthy partners. Openly sharing about my flaws and allowing others space to be honest about theirs.

I’m not here to judge you.
I am you.

I’m here to encourage us all to ask ‘why?’ before we post. What do you hope will come of this? Are you being honest about your motivations? Do you think this will contribute positively to the lives of those around you? Is this just another way to avoid dealing with the truth of your reality?

Because I think feminism is more than this. I think we are all more than this.

If you’re angry with me right now, I encourage you to take some time and think it through. If you’re defensive, maybe you already have something inside of you telling yourself that something isn’t sitting quite right. I’m not here to silence your empowerment. I’m here to encourage you to take a step deeper into it. Form your worth out of something that you can actually choose. What kind of life do you want to live? What kind of person do you want to be? Don’t let the patriarchy hijack your empowerment. Why do this for the pleasure of men sitting behind computers  who’ve done nothing to contribute positively to your life? The process of discovering lasting self-esteem can be more than this.

with all of my love,
Sarajane

 

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