I am 24. I work out 4-5 times a week, live in a place where it gets really hot in the summer, and love my body. A few years ago, I decided that my body is never going to look better than it does now, so I might as well just get over my insecurities and hang-ups, and wear shorts, tank tops, crop tops, bikinis, etc, while I still can. (Actually I am much fitter now than I was when I made that decision, which just goes to show you that you should probably dress the way you feel comfortable dressing regardless of your weight. But I digress). So it’s summer now, and anytime I am not a work or a place where I have to dress professionally, I don’t wear a ton of clothing. I’m not really trying to show off, (oh okay, maybe just a little bit), or attract a lot of attention. I just like the way I look and feel when I’m wearing a tank top, or cut-offs, or a tasteful crop top. It has nothing to do with anyone else. I just do it because I like it, okay?
Anyway, a friend directed my attention to a blog post written by a woman entitled: “My Husband Doesn’t Need to See Your Boobs.” I read it of course, because I am a sucker for a good mommy blog written by a woman who is much more religious than I am (especially one with the word “boobs” in the title). I may not agree with evangelical/conservative Christian views about modesty, marriage, and femininity, but I am almost always willing to take a quick read. I have a lot of friends and relatives who are very religious, so I’m open to trying to understand the place of belief that they are coming from. Was her husband getting flashed a lot? I was expecting a lot of slut-shaming and “modest is hottest” kind of language, and maybe some Bible verses about how it is a woman’s duty to show her boobs to her husband alone. Or something.
Instead, it was an angry rant from a sad woman, against other women who happen to get photographed while wearing a bathing suit, short shorts, or some other piece of clothing that you would not wear into an office or elementary school, and then post these photographs on Instagram or Facebook. And this woman was upset, because she doesn’t want her husband to see photos of women who look better in a bikini than her (okay, I’m paraphrasing a bit).
This post was dripping with sadness. This woman doesn’t like her body, so she feels jealous of people who like their bodies. Something is off in her marriage, so she feels threatened by women she deems more attractive than herself. Otherwise she would not feel threatened by her husband happening upon a picture of a woman wearing an article of clothing that has been pretty standard fair for the past 50 years or so. And she doesn’t seem to know that if her husband wanted to actually see photos of naked ladies, he could easily get them via the internet (which obviously seems to work in her part of the world). I was expecting to read something referencing scripture, or beliefs of purity, or wifely duties or something like that (Can you tell I’ve fallen into the Mormon/Christian mommy blog hole a time or two?). But basically the gist was that she feels insecure about her body and her marriage, so could you harlots please stop tempting my husband via social media?
I feel bad for her. I really do. I’d love to fly out to Africa and grab her and her baby and let them stay in my guest bedroom. I’d watch the baby and she could go on a run or to therapy. But actually, it’s hard for me to want to help her, because I’m the exact kind of woman she is attacking. I don’t post many selfies, but on occasion I’m photographed in a crop top or short shorts. I’m not after her husband. I’m just trying to enjoy a summer free of back sweat.
So if you’re feeling insecure this summer, do something about it. Take the steps you need to love your body at any size, by doing some form of exercise that makes you feel powerful, or by remembering all of the amazing things you can do with your body (teach, create babies, make things, provide for someone). Talk to someone, a religious leader, or a therapist about your insecurities and develop whatever kind of strategy will work for your particular set of beliefs to begin to feel better about yourself. Jealousy is a normal feeling that we all have to deal with. And I guarantee that most of the women who are occasionally photographed in a bikini have had, or are currently going through similar battles with body image. Being a woman sucks sometimes. But please don’t push other women down in an attempt to build yourself up. And don’t marry someone if you can’t trust them not to leave you the first time they see a picture of someone in shorts.