I got an urgent call one early morning from my aunt about the leakage of my nude photos. It woke me up stronger than a shot of espresso. I asked her to describe the photos and shockingly, she was referring to my Instagram posts on blue bikinis. I calmed her down, letting her know that it was a photo posted by me and wearing a bikini boosting curvy body is totally normal.
One day, after a shower, I noticed my belly was flat. I got excited and shared it on my Instagram story semi-nude. A few moments later, a school friend told me that I was brave to share such pictures and no one from our batch had done it. I said that I feel privileged to have my parents, my partner and the country that I am living in be acceptable to it. I was born in a country with strict dressing traditions and regulations and I guess that If I was living there, I might be expressing myself in a different manner.
When I was sunbathing in my apartment with a bikini, I took some pictures because I loved how my body looked. The orange color was flattering my skin and all my upper body exercises were showing results with a toned belly. I shared my success on social media and then a guy friend of mine referred to them as a ‘thirst trap’.
My aunt and my friends’ opinions confused me initially but now I understand their point of view. Before sharing their stories, let me tell you my side of the story. I, myself am a big supporter and follower of body positivity. I follow fashion, body positivity promoters, designers and athletes in social media. Their captions talk about body positiveness featuring all kinds of different bodies dressed and nude. The best example to refer to is Ashely Graham, who is the known speaker for beauty beyond size and expresses it confidently through her posts that are clothed, semi-nude and nude.
Being exposed to them every day, I am influenced and express myself in a similar way. I find it normal to express my toner calves wearing a bikini and if one day out of nowhere, my belly decides to be flat, I am comfortable to exhibit it dressed and naked. I know there are various options to manifest things and I always try to implement multiple different ones. My expression completely depends on how I feel at the moment and what form of arts and cultures I have been recently amazed by. If Ashely and many others can express any way they like, I don’t understand why I should be limited from choosing an approach. Say now I am blessed to be able to express myself freely and feel confident about my body. If my expressions are normal to me, why is it sleazy, daredevil and thirst trap to others?
We need to remember the standard of norms is not the same for everyone. Our upbringings expose us to different cultures, societies and beliefs. All these factors increase the probability of differentiation among us also differentiating the standard of norms. We all were living our life in our own bubble until social media was created and put us all together under one big roof. Each of us is expressing ourselves with no intention to hurt another person on these platforms, but the differentiation in norms among us comes in between and builds friction. A post of mine is not acceptable to someone and to someone else, it’s bold and alluring.
What can we do to avoid this complication that exists for someone like me who lives with people having different norms? There is no one right answer. However, personally, I love and follow the quote ‘to live your own life without worrying about the expectation of others’. So, I am going to continue expressing myself in different ways that I have learned, feel and want. I am a promoter of body positivity because of my personal journey. I feel blessed to be where I am right now and I do not want to be upheld with the barriers others are related to and has nothing to do with me. If someone has issues with my way of expression, I am open to a discussion to share each other’s point of view. Also remember, as a spectator, you have rights to unfollow people if their way of expression discomforts you. Just because you saw a painting by Picasso and you did not like his work doesn’t mean you need to continue watching his paintings and bother yourself. Let’s celebrate our social media power to follow people that inspire you and respect the freedom of others to express oneself freely!