This post was originally published on Lindsay’s blog.
If you have been following me for any amount of time, you know that I am a huge fan of selfies. There are many reasons why and I wanted to take the time to elaborate and explore all of them. Selfies are powerful tools when we use them as a form of empowerment for all as opposed to for some form of competition among peers. We are all beautiful, it is not a contest to see whose filtered and face-tuned selfie is the best, we all win if the game is played correctly. So that is an important first point, a disclaimer if you will, using selfies for self love and self esteeem only works if we all keep it about positive vibes only. If you are posting yours publicly, I highly recommend blocking anyone who comments negatively and deleting the comment immediately. But I digress, what is it about selfies, specifically lingere selfies that makes them so empowering?
Whether your selfies are fully clothed or if they show a lot more skin, it is up to you. There is no requirement to bare it all in order to be considered body positive. We need to stop shaming people for their decisions and instead trust that they know what is best for them. For me, showing some skin really helped to boost my own self image and to finally love the bits that were holding me back from radical self love. I was able to see myself as beautiful when fully dressed up, but I was still struggling to love my bare tummy, my stretch marks and my sometimes dimply skin. None of these things can be seen when I am wearing my normal wardrobe, so for me, lingerie selfies made a lot of sense. It is also why I wear a lot of tight or bodycon clothing, I am embracing my figure exactly as it is, all the lumps and bumps included. Your process may be different from mine and that is totally okay, what works for one will not work for all but let us remember that our goal is the same.
There is a saying that I learned recently from a fellow fashion blogger, find someone who is doing what you want to do and do what they are doing. It makes sense right? Well, I was primarily inspired by Honorine of HonorCurves, Megan of BodyPosiPandaand George of FullerFigureFullerBust. If you follow these women, you will know that they don’t shy away from minimal clothing, crop top wearing, or figure hugging outfits in their selfies and you will also know that they are all gorgeous and confident as fuck. So without even knowing the saying I mentioned earlier, I decided to do what they were doing. They inspired me to get really honest with my body and to learn to love it in the process. Seeing my body from different angles was huge! Let’s face it, looking down at our bodies is not the most “flattering” angle, nor is it an accurate reflection of how most people see us. Not that you need to dress in a way that is flattering or pose only in flattering ways, but that it is okay to experiment with seeing your body in ways you never have before. Selfies change that and give you an outsiders perspective on your own body, for me this was endlessly helpful. It was not overnight that I started posting lingerie selfies, but eventually I gained enough self love and courage to go all the way.
Selfies can be used to show other people that bodies like theirs exist and are beautiful. It is a privilege to see yourself represented in the media, one that is not afforded to all of us. Some groups growing up seeing themselves in children’s books, tv shows and in movies and some of us believe that we are not worthy of being included, or that we will be included when we change or lose weight. If you do not look like the mainstream images of beauty that are constantly being shown in the media, selfies can be a revolutionary act. Just existing outside of the norm of white, able-bodied, thin and cisgender is radical because the media has tried for so long to erase our existence. Selfies make us real, they confirm our existence for all of society to see. By showing ourselves in a powerful light instead of in a negative but consistently reinforced stereotype of ourselves. Social media is giving us back the power to control the images we see around us, by allowing us control over the type of images that are created. I hope you are already following my Instagram page Selfies For Self Love, but if you aren’t it is all about showing the diverse beauty that exists outside of the media’s almost impossible to meet beauty standards. It reminds us that sexy comes in all shapes and sizes, races and abilities, genders and sexualities. Selfies allow us to recognize beauty in others, those that look like us and those that don’t. Taking and posting selfies allows us all to see how common things like stretch marks, scars and cellulite are and exactly how beautiful they can be when they aren’t photoshopped out. In the mainstream media, from television to magazines, these have all been removed by Photoshop and replaced with perfect but plastic looking skin that almost no one can relate to. We deserve better.
Part of taking lingerie selfies is about being nearly nude or sometimes all the way naked and that in and of itself is an important tip on the journey to self love. Spending time with your naked body is a great way to learn to appreciate all of its unique beauty and ability. You do not need to take or post photos of your nude body in order to learn to look at it from different angles, to touch it and learn to appreciate it fully. Don’t avoid the mirror on the way to the shower if you can, take a moment to appreciate your own natural beauty. It is also about destigmatizing female nudity and female underwear, even the word lingerie has a sexualized connotation when all it really means is, female undergarments. Men can walk around in boxer shorts and not much else, without many or any commenting but a woman in lingerie is instantly sexualized, pornographic even. Nudity itself is not sexual or pornographic. We are born nude and babies are not even aware of their own sexuality yet. Why are male nipples permitted on almost all beaches but female nipples must find clothing optional spaces? Why do almost all social media sites reinforce this bias? It is particularly ironic given that in most cases, female nipples are the ones that have a reason to be out in public, you know for feeding babies. As a feminist, I can tell you, the answer to why these differences or biases exist is very clear… sexism. Lingerie selfies can make a difference when they are used as a form of political or social activism, to reclaim our bodies for ourselves. To take back our femininity. Women are allowed to feel or look sexy without automatically being exploited. In fact, as a sexual assault survivor I cannot tell you how powerful it feels to be in control of when and how people will see my body; I decide and there is both power and healing in that.
It is important to remember that no matter what you do, someone is going to judge you for it. Since you can’t possibly please everyone, you might as well just worry about pleasing you. Maybe, just maybe, you can slowly change minds in the process. If people comment on the fact that you post revealing photos, remind them that their wardrobe policing comments are based in both slut shaming and victim blaming that contribute to rape culture. People are entitled to dress however they see fit and they are still deserving of safety and respect. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted or harassed because of the clothing choices they make. Taking photos and posting them on the internet is not consent to receiving unsolicited dick pictures and we need to hold those perpetrators accountable and refuse to blame the women who are simply receiving them. Saying a person deserves to have their nude selfie shared just because of the photo they took is no different than implying that because of what a woman was wearing in public, she is somehow deserving of being sexually assaulted. Women should be able to do what they want without constantly living in fear of sexual harassment and rape. Support women’s choices and you support women, period.
Lindsay Marie McAllister, also known as MsLindsayM in the online world, is a feminist and a body positivity activist. She is a survivor of sexual assault and recovered from disordered eating. As a result of her experience with both the modeling industry and eating disorders she has developed a strong passion for helping women achieve radical self-love, especially when it comes to their bodies. Lindsay believes that representation matters and that when we see images of ourselves in the media we are empowered. As a result, she started the hashtag #selfiesforselflove and is a strong believer in the power of social media to make change. When women celebrate their own beauty, especially if they fall outside of society’s predetermined beauty norms (ie. white, thin, cis & able-bodied), they are able to feel more comfortable in their own skin. Lindsay is active on all social media platforms including: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr. She actively speaks up against diet culture and makes it known how triggering those types of conversations can be for some women. She supports women in finding their own personal best regardless of the size they wear, what foods they choose to eat and whether or not exercise is a part of their lives. Lindsay believes that all people should be able to live a life free of oppression and harassment, especially when it comes to their personal lifestyle choices. She supports the idea that sizeism should be part of the intersectional feminist movement in the same way that racism, heterosexism and classism are. Lindsay’s brand of feminism is intersectional, anti-racist, inclusive and always body positive.