18 Year old Me Went Viral; For all the Wrong Reasons.
How would you feel if you saw yourself 7 years ago, being graded on your appearance by complete strangers? Let me tell you how it feels.
My issues with this whole story are thus:
- I still don’t know who posted me on this website.
- How I’m dressed is actually a bit of a spoof – I really don’t wear pink.
- The pose is also a joke, but people might genuinely think I look like that.
- WHY DO I CARE WHAT I LOOK LIKE! I’M ON A WHO WOULD YOU SLEEP WITH SITE?
I should elaborate. A few months ago I received a message from one of my best friends.
‘Oh my goodness – I just got sent this…’. She proceeded to forward me a screenshot of a website.
The webpage was titled ‘If you had to pick one’, a feed on a popular contributor site. There was a photo of two girls, one in a tight coral dress with big bouncy blonde hair. The other was in an equally tight, bright pink boob tube with a shock of reddish hair. The redhead… was me. I quickly searched the URL and pulled up the webpage. ‘I’d do the redhead so hard’, ‘Blonde every time’, ‘Redhead knows how she wants it’. Comments and comments, rating our appearance, our bust size, how we would likely perform in bed. I felt a bit sick – we had just turned 18 when that picture was taken – a full 7 years ago. I flash-backed to that night and remembered why we were dressed in pink, with spades of make up on and doing a stupid, posed photoshoot. I’d just been dumped – or was having some sort of existential boy crisis. My best friend was trying to cheer me up with cocktails and ridiculousness. Yes, a couple of those photos had made to Facebook – but WHO would take those photos and put them on a page as hideous as this? Who realistically dislikes me or my friend that much? Maybe they thought it was joke?
It took me some time to realise that I wasn’t that bothered about strangers rating me on the internet. I was more upset that someone I knew must’ve done this to me. Before it got sent to my friend, it had done the rounds on several male Whatsapp groups. Did no one respect me enough to tell me? Or, as I later decided, no one deemed it that serious or worthy of anything more than a little chuckle.
This highlights a much much wider issue. Women’s bodies are open to critique. We’re prime real estate, a graded side of beef to sink your teeth into and declare it a little too ‘tough’ – even our male ‘friends’ are allowed to comment. I remember, after losing a lot of weight and investing in weight-lifting, one of my friends told me that the guy she was seeing thought I ‘looked better before’. For some reason that really stung. Even now (I’m a feminist…BUT) I ask my boyfriend if I look ok. I push and push him… ‘have I put on weight?’, ‘do you think I look sexy’, ‘am I desirable’. I NEED A MAN TO TELL ME I’M PRETTY.
How have I, an intelligent, educated and confident woman, come to the conclusion that my physical self-worth hinges on male opinion. Well, because of sites like the one I featured on. The internet, Instagram, Tinder – they reinforce and bolster the fact that men get to decide a women’s desirability. The reason that, I feel, no male sent me that image, is because they couldn’t really see anything innately wrong with what was being done on that site. Their only interest was that it included me – haha how funny. None of them had the brains to stop and think how disgusting the ethos was behind this photo. I scrolled through the site and I can assure you that there were girls in much less clothing than I was. There were some that looked practically prepubescent – in bikinis –not a pubic hair in sight.
So, to those lovely gentlemen who passed around that image of me and my friend… I hope that your little sister, your daughter, doesn’t appear on one of these sites with her pubis displayed – whilst grotesque misogynists describe the ways in which they’d defile her. I hope paedophiles don’t salivate over her – or worse. I hope she isn’t subject to such depravity – I hope you teach her that she’s worth more than the worth you attached to my privacy – worth more than what’s between her legs and what someone else wants to do with it.
Did that make you feel a bit sick? Good! Then my work here is done.
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