I think that I use the word “motto” too casually. Like, I say that “Food over Boys” is my motto (because it is) and that “Love Yourself” is my mantra (because it is). I’m also a pretty big fan of the chant “Breathe in, breathe out.” As well as a few others. My most recent one is “Do whatever you want with your body (except drugs).”
And it all came about because of an Instagram picture from a couple of weeks ago.
Now, before I start this, allow me to clarify that I don’t have an Instagram account. I never have had one, nor do I intend to have one. I find Instagram and social media in general to be an outlet for attention-seeking and cyber-bullying, among other things, so I don’t really like to participate in social media (awful hypocritical of me, since I’m posting this on a blog). So I was unaware of the picture Houston posted until I was notified by friends.
Houston is a girl I’ve had issues with in the past. We used to be very good friends and then we grew apart when she became a “slut,” something which I am hugely embarassed to admit I often shamed her for a couple years ago, which was mostly out of jealousy. She was getting a ton of guys and I wasn’t—I thought that we were very similar at the time, so what did they see in her that they didn’t see in me?!
Since then I’ve realized it’s because Houston has learned to let go of all her inhibitions, which is something I’ve come to respect her for.
When Houston posted a picture of her and her friend Fiona on Instagram in the mall dressing room wearing (gasp) nothing but their bras and jeans, everyone was pretty much immediately outraged. It’s no secret that Houston and I aren’t on the best of terms at the moment—we’re polite and friendly but rather awkward around each other—and within minutes of her posting the picture three separate people sent me a screenshot of it, asking me for my opinion.
My immediate reaction was Who the fuck cares?
People were absolutely brutal to both Houston and Fiona in the comments on the picture. They were called thirsty and trashy among other things. Some comments were actually kind of funny and attempting to make light of the situation (Asha posted “Aaaaaand exhale” which I thought was mean but hilarious), but most of them were just pure slut-shaming.
Houston posted a comment in defense of herself. Since I viewed it from a friend’s Instagram account and don’t have the ability to go back and look, I may get the wording abysmally wrong, but it went something like this:
“Will someone please tell me how it’s fair that guys can post pictures of their abs and girls can post pictures of themselves in bikinis with their asses falling out but the second that Fiona and I post a picture of ourselves in our BRAS with PANTS on, everyone loses their shit?”
I think there was more to the comment and it was probably more eloquently-worded, but you get the gist of it.
But I still harbored some of my old jealousy for Houston, and my immediate thought was “She’s just trying to justify her (completely unjustifiable) actions.” The fact that she was confident enough with her body and herself to not only post a picture like that but also defend herself drove me crazy. As confident as I am with myself, I don’t know if I could ever do something like that. And I was jealous.
This had nothing to do with me being a feminist or with girl solidarity in general. This had nothing to do with the fact that Houston’s profile was not private and that she was potentially endangering herself. This had nothing to do with a billion other potentially very valid reasons I could have had for being upset about the situation.
Nope. It was pure, unbridled jealousy.
But I had to let myself sit back and think about it for a while. And ultimately I came to two conclusions:
The first: the whole situation didn’t have any damn thing to do with me at all, besides the fact that Houston and I used to be friends. So even if I could come up with a good reason for my anger beyond the pre-school level, bullshit explanation of “She’s got something I don’t have,” it wouldn’t matter because I’m literally as far-removed from the situation as I can be.
The second: Houston, in her own way, was kind of a hero that day.
Maybe I don’t particularly agree with the posting of the picture but I absolutely agree with and respect her standing up for herself, and I told her as much.
It had been a while since Houston and I had really had a conversation beyond asking for that night’s homework questions or exchanging generic holiday greetings. It had been even longer since we’d talked about anything even remotely serious. But when I congratulated her on standing up for herself—praise that I believe she absolutely deserved—I saw a glimpse of the friendship we used to have.
I swear, my heart must have skipped a beat when she started thanking me for my support. I was so worried that she would instantly reject me and not care about anything I had to say.
(((Yes, I am totally aware of the fact that, in true Sophia fashion, I am making this all about me. Worry not, I’ll get back to talking about the grand scheme of things in a moment.)))
Instead, she seemed genuinely happy that I was speaking up in support of her. It’s not like I think she’s gonna run around saying “ZOMG GUYS SOPHIA SAYS I DID THE RIGHT THING” but I think that during that conversation, we shared a bond far older than the time we’ve been on this earth. And I hope that in some way, no matter how small, I managed to help boost her self-confidence after our peers had been so relentlessly tearing it down.
There is something to be said for sisterhood, and there is certainly something to be said for solidarity. While I can’t say I’m a big fan of her initial decision to post the picture, I can truly say I really respect how she handled herself.
If we can’t stand together with our sisters—if we can’t stand by each other’s actions, regardless of their success or failure—then what are we, really? If we can’t speak up in full support of each other and in full support of everything we are, then what are we besides a group of catty, jealous, warring teenagers?
And maybe, in the morning and afternoon, that’s all we are. But I like to think that at the end of the day, somewhere in the grand scheme of things, everything we do makes a difference. Every little compliment and every little success builds, whereas every little insult and every little failure destroys.
I’d like to think that, at the end of the day, we are capable of building something beautiful, no matter how many times it gets knocked down.
So, yeah. My motto at the moment is Do Whatever You Want With Your Body (Except Drugs). Because, you know, crack is whack and meth is…bad. I don’t even know; I’m seriously bad with rhymes.
If Houston or any other girl wants to post pictures of themselves in their bras, or their bathing suits, or yoga pants, or any other article of clothing for that matter, then I don’t really care. If a guy wants to post a picture of his abs, he can absolutely be my guest. 😉
As long as they’re being safe and smart about it, I really don’t care what other people do with their bodies. Our bodies and our sexualities are all wonderfully and uniquely our own, and it’s our choice to do whatever we want to do (or not do for that matter) with them.
(((Except for, like, naked pictures. Child porn is still very much illegal, guys. Don’t forget it!)))
Have some funny experiences with the horrors of social media? Got something groundbreaking to say about yoga pants? Other thoughts? Let me know in the comments! 🙂