Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Your Body is a Temple, Not a Visitor's Center

Within recent months, I have noticed a sharp increase in the amount of women who are posting intimate pictures of their bodies on social media networks. This seemingly new and trendy type of posting has not only left me feeling confused and disappointed but most importantly, it has left me deeply concerned for the state of self-respect within some of my generation.

It happens daily; I log onto to my various social media networks (instagram, twitter, facebook, etc.) and there I see another woman posting a picture of either herself or someone else that she so desperately wants to look like. I am not talking about the ladies who post their vacation pictures from a trip to the beach or their "outfit of day" or even the occasional "selfie;" what I am referring to here is the women who are taking pictures of their "progress" (aka their nearly naked bodies) and posting it for the whole world to see: standing in front of a mirror, so obviously in a gym, sucking in every last ounce of air or standing in their bedroom mirrors flexing as hard as humanly possible to get the perfect shot of their newly acquired biceps.

What I don't understand about this trend is why women are supporting a campaign of body imagery that is unrealistic and unhealthy (both physically and emotionally). It seems like everywhere I look on social media, I see the slogan "strong is the new skinny" which I completely endorse and support as a step in the right direction in terms of goal-setting. But when this slogan is plastered on pictures of women's bodies that are clearly too thin and then it is subsequently re-posted and liked by thousands of women- I can't help but feel this is problematic. More importantly, what are we teaching young women about the sacritity of their bodies if we are constantly posting pictures of ourselves (and others for that matter) in a bra and underwear for the world to see? This is not normal and in fact, I think it speaks loudly of the lack of confidence that many women in my generation have.

Why is feeling good about your workout or the two pounds that you lost not good enough for just yourself? Why are women finding it necessary to seek the "like" and "share" from the anonymity of the Internet? Where is your self-worth? Seeing people constantly posing in front of mirrors at the gym or even in the privacy of their own home and finding it necessary to alert the world every time they sweat seems to be a indicator that we are lacking self-respect. No longer is feeling sexy good enough for yourself; now you must get at least 20 likes on your "#fitfam" photo so that you can feel like you have accomplished something. 

Call me old fashioned but I firmly believe that part of considering yourself a lady is conserving your body. As the infamous Marilyn Monroe would say, "your clothes should be tight enough to show your a woman but loose enough to show your a lady." I am not suggesting that we should all walk around in head-to-toe garments that cover every inch of our skin. I am merely revealing that constantly posting up close and personal body shots on social media networks is distasteful and arguably toxic to those who view it. It seems like my generation was on the cusp of the budding popularity of social media and the generation just below mine is often criticized for overexposing themselves. Where do you think they learned to do it? I think that we all need to take a minute and reevaluate the manner in which we use social media and assess how that speaks of our character.

As a woman, I feel compelled to bring what little bit of light I can to this issue. In a sense, I think it is fantastic to see my generation begin to think about living a healthy lifestyle. I thoroughly enjoy reading about the different workouts that people do and recipes they share via social media. But at the end of the day, being healthy is much deeper than the way your body looks under the Lo-Fi filter on instagram. There is strong evidence from the actions that we take on social media that we are losing grip of our self-respect and it is only my hope that things will turn around before more and more people unintentionally begin supporting toxic behaviors and consequently impacting the confidence of those who look to them as role models.

This post isn't pointed toward one particular person, site or incident. I do not intend to offend anyone who believes that partaking in the type of behaviors I have previously mentioned is normal and beneficial to others. I, just like those who post these pictures, am simply exercising my first amendment right by expressing my concern for this trend.

"To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves- there lies the great, singular power of self-respect." --Joan Didion

As always, thank you for reading!

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