The photo showed her torso, wearing bikini bottoms. What turned out to be controversial about the image was that it showed her pubic hair peeking out from the bikini bottoms.
I originally saw this article in Huffington Post and was surprised and disappointed in the replies. I posted my thoughts, but with character limits it’s hard to really express what you feel while providing evidence.
This is why I’ve decided to join the masses on the internet to create a blog for my thoughts, and hopefully reach others who think the same and argue with those that don’t. I feel like the point of Petra’s article was missed, and while she’s perfectly capable of answering for herself, I would like to attention-whore myself on behalf of her.
The main argument as to why Instagram deleted the image – and the account – was, according to some Huff Post users, a violation of Instagram’s TOS. As Petra points out in her article, “there are 5,883,628 images tagged #bikini.” These images show the exact same area, yet are allowed to remain on the site. While it’s true that Instagram is a private domain, who’s TOS you agree to when you sign up and therefore you’re subject to their rules and decisions, the very fact that similar images without pubic hair remain on the site is just hypocrisy.
Another argument was that the picture was purposefully provocative, where the subject focused on the pubic hair rather than a woman in a bikini. But again, any similar image, with a similar focus, sans pubic hair, would not spark the same outrage or even be seen as controversial. It’s something that we’ve seen before.
So why is it controversial?
Because we’ve become desensitised to seeing bikini clad women without pubic hair. Media tells us that it’s normal and acceptable, they tell us that it’s sexy and beautiful and that we should all be like those models. They feed us this information, along with images of celebrities and told that we should do it/be like it/think it because the beautiful, rich and famous people are doing it/thinking it/saying it.
We’re over-saturated with these ‘acceptable’ images and so we become used to it, and anything that does not follow what media and advertising tells us is ‘controversial’ and ‘unacceptable.’ To generalise, we are sheep who buy what we’re told, think what we’re told and act how we’re told. Then we self-censor anything which media has not deemed acceptable.
I’m amazed what we censor. A Huffington Post user censored the word ‘breast.’ Why are we censoring words? Vagina, penis, leg, arm, breast, ear, nose… they’re all body parts with a function, there’s nothing ‘rude’ about them. Is it because kids might be reading? If the kids are old enough to read those posts, then they’re old enough to understand their body parts and the functions that they play.
So if pubic hair is covering just another body part (and contrary to some popular opinion posted in the comments section of Huffington Post, pubic hair does not just cover a neat little triangular patch), then what does that make the hair on our head? Should we censor that too? Before you say that pubic hair covers our genitalia and genitalia are not only for bodily functions but also for sex, then what does that make mouths? Should we censor lips too? We’re taught to be ashamed of our bodies and our ‘rude’ bits, and it shouldn’t be this way. What also makes me so frustrated is the double-standards that apply to this kind of censorship.
So many people said that the same image of men would be censored too.
Go to Google Images and search Cory Bond. Then Google ‘male swimwear models.’ After that, Google ‘bikini models.’ I had a lot of fun doing these searches but that’s not the point. My search for ‘bikini models with pubic hair’ was unsuccessful, with unhelpful nature photos of beavers. The point is that it seems socially ok for the pubic hair of men to show, but not ok for women. I don’t understand this type of double standards.
I don’t understand why we have to judge women’s bodies, and say that showing pubic hair is provocative when those same standards don’t apply to men.
I also don’t understand why we have to be so scared of the female body and all that belongs to it.
We should embrace hairy and hair-free and stop being so judgmental. We should stop listening to media and learn to think for ourselves.
And for those who say ‘I don’t want to see those kind of images,’ then don’t click on those links, or read those articles.
We have so many images shoved down our throats that a few more aren’t going to hurt. At least then we would have images of a broader range of female body types and preferences, rather than the images that we’re fed right now.
In the end it comes down to personal preference and what you’re comfortable with. If you would rather not sport a natural look, don’t – that’s your choice. But remember that others also have the same choices, and should not be shamed for them.