By Pieter De Wit
It is hard to tell when it all started, but the debate on nudity on social media exploded in March 2016 when Kim Kardashian posted a censored nude picture on her social media. A shit storm followed rapidly, instigated by people who strongly disapproved of this “sexist” display.
But this outrage was countered by other celebs like Miley Cyrus and Bette Midler who defended the post, and they were happy to join the nude-tribe.
While Kim was defending her post as a symbol of feminism, empowering other women to be strong and independent, others saw this nudity as a sign of obeying the male view on women as suppressed sex symbols. So who is right here?
Should We Accept Or Ban Nudity On Social Media?
The first question we could ask ourselves is if posting nudity on social media itself should be accepted and encouraged, or rejected and banned? I am a great advocate for personal freedom, and I hope you are as well. In most societies in 2020, people are freer than before.
Daily, we can choose who to hang out with, what to eat, which shows to watch on tv and what to wear. So why wouldn’t we be able to choose not to wear anything at all and post it on social media? I think the perception of our bodies is one of the last major roadblocks we need to overcome in our pursuit to freedom.
We need to normalise nudity and accept all kinds of bodies. It is time to ban body-shaming and overcome female suppression once and for all. If celebs and people like you and I put nude pictures on social media, it could catalyse the normalisation of nudity in society.
A Symbol Of Feminism?
The whole idea of feminism is about creating freedom of choice and empowering women to do what they want. Whether that is running for Vice President of the USA, staying at home raising children or posting nude pictures on Instagram. To demonstrate that they’re free and empowered, many women like to take off their clothes in front of the camera. This can be seen on social media as well as with women rights activists during a protest.
But honestly, when women with perfect bodies take off their clothes, do their hair and take two hours to take the best selfie to post on social media, I do not always see strong, independent and confident women. While Kim Kardashian’s nude picture could be meant as a form of feminism, the cynic in me thinks she might be more concerned with the number of followers and likes that ensure huge incomes, instead of caring about the empowerment of her followers.
Personally, I find it much more empowering to see Adele as a body-positivity activist posting pictures of herself without make-up, than to see Kim’s nude body. Danielle Galvin, for example, is a 26-year-old “fat activist” from Australia. She does not fit the stereotypical beauty ideals but posts her body on social media to defend fat people who too often get body-shamed. Not blindly complying to society standards but doing your own thing is what real feminism is about.
A Double Standard
While I do encourage feminists to try to overcome the female stereotypes we’re all used to, posting perfectly angled naked pictures is not accomplishing this in my view. While many women are sick and tired of being seen as lust objects and sex symbols, they would still wear their best outfit and do their make-up before going out. And I think this is the complexity of the subject.
On the one hand, they want to be seen as smart, independent and empowered, but on the other, they want to be sexy, knowing that this helps to attract a partner’s attention. But women can be successful, smart and be sexy at the same time. What matters most is the context. If a woman decides to dress up or take a nude photo, she should do this firstly for herself and not for anyone else. But as we are all socially wired human beings, is there such a thing as staying private anymore?
I think we can conclude that celebrity nude pictures on social media don’t really have the effect of spreading feminism and empowering women, even if the intention was to do so. Many women see these celebs promoting a perfect body standard and might feel more ashamed and insecure in their own body. A better way to promote feminism is to do what you want and live to your own standards regardless of social expectations. And if body positivity is your thing, then focus on real and perfect imperfect bodies of all sizes instead of only complying to perceived preferences.
Personal freedom to do what you want is key, taking into account that one person’s freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins.