I’ve never described myself as a “feminist” because of the negative connotations chained to the word, however there was no more hiding my feminism when I became an advocate for the efforts of the Free The Nipple movement, a movement aimed at decriminalizing the (female) nipple in the 37 states where it is still illegal to be topless. Free The Nipple is a film-in-progress by Lina Esco aimed to “end this insane war on women’s boobs.” I personally think this step towards increasing gender equality and decreasing gender stereotypes is impressive and long overdue.
I always see posts on Facebook and other social media outlets regarding the idea of redefining the “perfect body” and changing how women are portrayed in mass media. Many people post inspiring stories or confident pictures of so called “plus size” women posing comfortably in their own skin, and I for one am all about it.
I would like to see more images of women of all sizes portrayed in the media because “female” is not a cookie cutter image confined to a USPS “it fits, it ships” box, but rather female comes in all shapes, sizes, proportions, dimensions, lengths, widths and heights.
However, to redefine the “ideal” female image isn’t my goal. I want to strip naked the gender stereotypes that go along with being woman and the way we see and allow our body to be seen is just one stop on my journey to gender equality.
We promote the idea of pride and discourage the idea of shame when it comes to loving your body, yet when we go to show off our inherited masterpieces sculpted to perfection, perfection of our own accord, we are restricted by the gender stereotypes cast upon us by the shadow of The Man. The Man who says we can either show off our bodies or maintain our respect, but not both. The Man who determined what lies on the female chest must be sheltered and hidden while what lies on his is allowed to golden in the light of the sun. The same Man who encourages slut-shaming for a woman’s actions and then turns around and high-fives the man who partakes in the same activities.
Some women work hard for the body they find suitable, others are just blessed with a fortunate set of genes and others take pride in what they have no matter what anybody else thinks. This sense of pride deserves more than just a Facebook status. It deserves to be shown off without the connotation that the person showing it off is a sleaze, slut or whore. And it sure as hell doesn’t mean that she’s trading in her right to be respected for a greater sense of self-pride. It simply means she’s satisfied with what she has and she’s not going to mask it under clothes and ancient social norms.
You can either wear a mini skirt or be a CEO, rock a bikini on the beach or be a part of the PTO, sport a mid-drift or have a family, I’m calling bullshit on these ultimatums. It’s time to exterminate the idea that shedding our clothes means shedding our dignity. It’s time to put an end to slut-shaming. It’s time to disregard the idea that trading in our flats for stilettos means trading in our respect for degradation.
I can’t put it any better than these four lovely ladies from the Brave New Voices Grand Slam competition did when they said, “…but no matter what garments we wrap ourselves in a woman’s status as trick, treat or geek is not up for discussion. A woman dressing, acting, or being should be her choice, if a woman wants to wear a skimpy outfit, let it be her choice. If a woman wants to cover up, let it be her choice, and if I want to be a mother fucking monster, let it be, my choice.”
So if you got it, think you got it, know you got it, or don’t care if you have it – flaunt it, shake what your momma gave ya and #FreeTheNipple …or don’t, as long as it’s your choice.