1.21.14 – Stop Shaming Women for Having Bodies

I read a lot of information about how to create professional online profiles. I don’t always agree with the advice given, as it is frequently all about scrubbing your personality from your profile, but rarely does profile advice make me angry.

The other day I came across this post on the popular SteamFeed website. My problem lies with the first point in the article:

Take a good profile photo. Erase all duck face selfies. Do not use party pics where people can see the main part of your boobs or too much of your chest while you look drunk.

This article wasn’t written specifically for women, yet the first point singles out women and their bodies. I agree that boozy photos don’t belong on online profiles, especially not professional ones, but why mention “boobs” at all? Where is the mention of how men should not take bathroom or gym selfies sans shirt? Pecs and abs are okay but breasts are not?

Newsflash: Breasts are a natural part of life and cleavage happens, even to the most professional of women. And you know what? That’s okay. Cleavage is an okay thing to have.

A Little Too Much Info about Me.

Image via flickr user Pntofnoretrn77

Image via flickr user Ptofnoretrn77

For the longest time I was one of those women that didn’t have cleavage. Then a few years ago, when my health took a turn for the worse, my hormones went crazy and I got boobs. It was seriously weird. I was 30 years old and I finally understood what it was like to have cleavage. Wearing clothes became strange. I immediately felt self-conscious about everything I wore – even t-shirts. Would people think I was just trying to get attention?

I’ve hesitated to post any pictures of myself below the neck for that very reason. It’s only happened once, when I was in costume for a Renaissance Festival (obviously, there was cleavage galore because of the corset). Somehow, the fact that I was in costume made me feel better about it… but I was still waiting for the judgment to come.

Because if there’s one thing the internet loves to do, it’s judge women for having bodies.

I’ve Seen it Happen to Too Many Women.

Some of my friends have very active internet personas. They are professionals. They blog, they vlog, they podcast, they have breasts. And they’ve all been chastised for it.

They receive YouTube or blog comments about how they should stop wearing push up bras or people ask them if they have implants. And of course, the number one comment: “Quit showing your boobs to get attention.”

These women aren’t running around the internet naked (although, so what if they were?), they are fully clothed. Yet, they have breasts that give them cleavage. This offends some people. Women’s bodies make some people uncomfortable.

That’s because our society immediately associates women’s bodies with sex. Women’s bodies and breasts are a commodity. They don’t belong to a person. They belong to society at large and society at large has decided that it has a say in when and how much of a body a woman can show.

Let’s Stop this Now.

Men’s bodies, on the other hand, belong to the man. Chiseled and flexed, they are a sign of virility and success, not sexual shame. We must break society of the idea that a woman claiming her own body, her own womanhood – her own personhood, is a shameful act.

It is not a shameful act.

It is not the woman’s responsibility to cover up and put on a turtleneck or a cardigan to make society more comfortable. It is society’s responsibility to let go of its overly sexualized and objectified view of women.

If a woman shows cleavage in her online profile don’t assume she is trying to sex up her internet presence. Don’t assume she’s flaunting “the girls” for anyone’s benefit. And for the sake of progress, don’t try to shame her for posting a picture of herself in which she felt beautiful.

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Comments

  1. #preach

    It used to be all “Post pics where you look and feel most confident” and “Wear colors that bring out your personality and make you shine.” Now it’s all about making sure your shirt isn’t too low-cut and the color isn’t too vibrant and the lipstick isn’t too “lady of the night”. Did I mention these are women-critiques, or was it just that obvious?

    Anyway, I digress. Great post! I’m looking forward to reading more!

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