“Nudity and Pornography” on Facebook

** Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders**

I stumbled upon a controversial photograph on Facebook earlier today. It’s an image of an adult’s bare torso, showing from just above ribs to just below hips. Not a big deal. The problem is that this wasn’t a shot of some guy out jogging or sunning himself on a beach or walking to class on a warm day. It was of a woman’s torso.

Many women coping with mastectomies, double mastectomies, hysterectomies, self-injury, treatment for eating disorders, and other body alterations have published self-portraits to share their health struggles and celebrate triumphant successes, only to be faced with accusations of obscenity. Unsurprisingly, someone was made uncomfortable by this artist’s partial nudity and reported it.

This is a perfect example of American culture’s obsessive sexualization of women’s bodies. Here is the artist’s reaction, in its entirety (emphasis added).

“Even though most of my profile is private, I’m making this post public on the off chance that the person who reported me will see it if they aren’t on my friends list (I am still unsure about that). 

“Today I changed my Facebook profile picture to a self portrait that I took in September of 2013 as part of a photo project that I ended up abandoning eventually. Even though I gave up on the project, I liked the picture. It holds https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152219450158058&set=a.413535378057.191239.697328057&type=1&theaterimportant significance for me. Just moments after I changed it, however, I received a notification stating that it had been reported to Facebook for ‘nudity and pornography’. Someone had seen the photo of my bare torso and had immediately been so offended by it that they decided it needed to be removed from Facebook within seconds of it showing up. To the person who reported my photo, I would like to say I am sorry.

“I am sorry that you have been conditioned to believe that a woman’s bare skin is pornographic and obscene by default. I am sorry that you cannot separate my skin from sex. I am sorry that you believe the flesh I was born in, that I learned to walk and dance and swim in, that I scraped my knees on the playground in, that I carried my daughter in, that has been held and hurt and rejected and sunburned and painted on and pierced and filled with too much food or too little food and bruised at punk shows, is lewd and meant for the consumption of others and not for my own use.

I am sorry that I was not born male. If I had been, I could walk down a public street showing the same amount of flesh pictured here and no one would bat an eye, because the only sexuality that needs to be silenced is female.

“I am sorry that you couldn’t bear to go about your day without correcting my behavior.

“I am sorry that a photograph that was meant to be a statement about myself became a target for your own discomfort, that you couldn’t look past my tits and try to see what I was saying.

“In this photo I’m crying. In this photo I am 105 pounds and I am tugging and squeezing and pinching at my body to make it smaller, smaller than it was ever meant to be because I have days sometimes when I feel like I am too much, that I take up space that I don’t deserve. I have days sometimes when I want to shrink so far inside myself that no one else can see me. I have days sometimes when I don’t eat enough. I have days sometimes when I don’t want to eat at all. I took this photo to illustrate a part of myself that I don’t have the courage to talk about even with the people I trust the most.

“Thank you for reporting me, because until now I haven’t said these things to anyone. I hope that you come to terms with your own issues about bodies and sexuality and skin. 

“Since this photo was taken I’ve gained ten pounds. I’m healthier now. I still want to disappear a lot of the time, but I can’t yet. I still have things I want to say.”

Beautiful. See the original here.

13 comments

  1. Being an artist, I am comfortable working with both male and female nude models. I don’t understand why people get upset about the human body. Some object to breast feeding in public. A baby needs nourishment. For those whose had experience with babies, they’ll understand that a baby’s needs are immediate. If not satisfied anyone within earshot will suffer the consequences. We are born naked. How can it be wrong.

    My heart breaks for the woman who’s picture is shown above and I’m glad that she posted it. I feel privileged in learning about an aspect of her life that she, otherwise, didn’t feel the courage to talk about. I’m sorry that she wasn’t accorded understanding and sympathy, before being reported for ‘nudity and pornography’. ~ Dennis

    Like

  2. Beautiful and accurate thoughts. We WILL be sharing this, though not directly on FB, of course. We will, however, share this on our website which has a much farther reach than FB, plus on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and more. Your words will reach many more people than FB can offer.

    Be proud, be strong, be healthy and ignore those who would have you be otherwise. Be yourself; that’s all you need to be!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed reading this as much as I did. It’s an incredibly powerful piece. I have no affiliation with the author, though, so please list her name (Alexandra Rosado) if sharing directly from here.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My thoughts exactly. People don’t seem to understand that bare skin on a female person is not an open invitation to sexualize and critique, nor do enough people grasp why doing so is harmful.

      Like

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