There is a hypocrisy attached to the way society deals with women and their decisions about their own bodies. The recent incident of Instagram removing a picture showing a fully clothed woman with a small period leak is just one such occurrence in what is the general attitude towards women’s bodies. Although Instagram reinstated the picture (after removing it twice) following a furore on social media platforms, it is appalling to note the general idea perpetuating in society about controlling a woman’s narrative about her own body and it’s – to no one’s surprise – laced with double standards.
It is evident in the way the women’s breasts are objectified but the moment a young woman’s bra (everyday clothing for women all over the world) is visible, it becomes something worth debating and calling “over the top”. For instance, when the media thought it was a big deal for Taylor Swift to step out with her bra visible under a top. It is how women’s roles as life-givers are heralded but menstruation, a natural process influential to their ability to reproduce, is seen as something to be discussed in hushed whispers behind bathroom stalls. It is also about how society celebrates motherhood with pictures of new mothers serenely looking at their babies but banishes the very same mothers to breastfeed in bathroom stalls, which was talked about when a campaign “When Nurture Calls“ was launched in Texas, USA to support a woman’s right to nurse in public without being bothered or disturbed. It is worrying to see how people jump on the bandwagon of Meghan Trainor’s problematic “All About That Bass“, supposedly talking about body positivity, but are unwilling to look at a woman over size 10 in a crop top with anything other than disgust and mockery. The message is loud and clear: Love your body and celebrate womanhood as long as it is aligned with our shiny perceptions of what women should look like and do.
The realities of femininity do not fit into the neat little moulds that they are thought to be restricted to. There are period leaks and unkept body hair and rolls and bends and imperfections. It is time to stop preaching body positivity with statements like “real men love curves” because that defeats the very purpose of loving your body for what it is and not because it might seem more attractive to others in a certain way. It is time for women to take back control of the narrative of their own bodies. To truly celebrate femininity, we have to celebrate all aspects of it- the beauty and the struggle, the perfection and the flaws. We cannot pick and choose things to be proud of and things to quash based on skewed perceptions because there is nothing to be ashamed of about normal bodily functions and nothing ugly about our bodies.