The Blog

Body Shaming 101 - As Long As You're A Woman, You Don't Own Your Body

It's an daily challenge. It's constant questioning. Is my dress too tight? Is my bra showing? Is my skirt too short? How can you not feel shamed about your own natural anatomy when society propels standards that make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.

As a woman, contemplating what to wear everyday is a difficult decision. I get it, you're probably tutting and thinking the typical 'a girl who is suffering from first world problems who is shrieking that they have nothing to wear whilst standing in a sea of clothes'

No. It truly is. Because the reality is, you're debating whether wearing that v-neck wrap blouse is appropriate to wear to work because even though you know you look hot AF in it and it does counts as formal/work wear, but you want to be taken seriously and not as if you're 'giving the wrong message' because you have larger than average sized boobs.

It's questioning whether wearing that perfect, appropriately sized bodycon skirt is a good idea, but wait. The last time you wore it you got approached by some random perv on the escalator at the tube station that was climbing the stairs who gave a creepy smile and commented 'your butt looked nice' and now you feel uncomfortable and self conscious every time you wear it.

It's an daily challenge. It's constant questioning. Is my dress too tight? Is my bra showing? Is my skirt too short?

How can you not feel shamed about your own natural anatomy when society propels standards that make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.

It affects us as women in our daily lives more than we realise. You can feel wary and slightly anxious when you're in the weights area at the gym, debating what angle to stand at when you're doing your squats because you don't want to be creeped on, sexualised or objectified when you're simply working on your fitness. You're cautious to not bend down at the hip when picking something you've dropped on the floor in public in efforts to not receive unwanted attention. Every little thing unconsciously becomes a tactical move.

Last week, Amy Steverson, a teenage girl who wore a stunning sweetheart neckline lace embroidered ball gown to her senior prom, was body shamed by teachers that she should 'cover up' as her dress was deemed 'too revealing' and a teacher repeatedly told her "us big girls gotta cover up" and was told she could go in if she wore the vice principal's tux jacket.

Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie touches on this perfectly, "We teach girls shame - close your legs, cover yourself. We make them feel as being female they're already guilty of something" she shares during her highly popular 'We Should All Be Feminists' talk at TedXEuston in 2011.

And it's true. Why should women have this mentality to always feel cautious of their bodies due to the hypersexualisation of the female anatomy in today's society? Why is nothing done to change the skewed perception that is at the expense of so many women?

For example, it's a real problem of how easily you can be called a slut. Or from my personal experience, a 'streetgirl' because I was out late irregardless that I was clothed from head to toe and was simply out shopping with friends. Doesn't matter. I was out late and I'm a woman - so I was clearly in the wrong and deserved to be implied I was a prostitute and be slut shamed.

Its ridiculous how easy it is these days for people to feel it's okay to slut shame from what you do or what you wear that has no relation to your sexuality - but it so commonly takes place, it's all part of the unfair standards placed women to shame them in efforts to oppress them.

You see, the thing is masculinity is built so much on men being of a higher status than women, and that's threatened when women are seen as equals. So, there's always something engineered in society that keeps women, conveniently below men to not mess with this ideology. Unfortunately, this is one of them.

It's almost as if you are meant to feel embarrassed and ashamed for your body. But is it really that surprising? Since you're a little girl you're told to "sit like a girl", always wear a bra, to not have your bra straps on show, if your trousers are too tight you're sending the wrong message, act ladylike in ways that confine you unlike boys. It's a classic example of women being oppressed in a system that's designed for men to have power over women. Men don't face the same issues of how every little piece of what you wear or doing a simple action can be put against you to degrade you.

Back in my primary school days, we would wear these cycling shorts for PE class because that was the required kit. Now, if I wanted to wear those similar style shorts today as a grown woman to the gym, it's likely I'd get sexually harassed then said that I was 'asking for it' and be body shamed.

As little girls that sexualisation and objectification doesn't exist. Your body is just your body. It's not an issue you're just wearing swimming trunks at the beach, you're just hot and having fun in the midst of your childhood innocence. It's sad that when you start to grow into a woman that layer of pressure is introduced upon you (as seen from the #WhenIWas social media campaign) and the early instances of sexual harassment occur, which adds to the insecurity that so many young girls, barely at the cusp of adulthood feel about their bodies - and they question why there are so many females with body image issues and eating disorders when we're part of a blemished society that shames bodies of women.