Sex in Social Media #2 | Progress Pics or Porn?
If you are on social media at all, I'm sure you've seen a lot of images with which you may have had an issue. I'm sure you've seen some young women posting photos for the sake of fitness that you were never want your daughter posting. I'm sure you've seen a lot of anger from wives/moms commenting on those images saying something along the lines of
"why don't you just do porn if you're going to post this. Don't be a wh*re on Instagram."
(that is one of the comments I've received from a gal back in the day)
While I don't think the anger is the best way to address these women (men), I do understand the fear response. I think there may be some insecurity by the viewer that comes into play, but the root of the issue is: WHY ARE MOST FITNESS PICTURES SO HYPER SEXUAL?!
What is the difference between the all so popular progress pic (fitness selfie) and pornography?
Is there one?
Is it what is being worn?
The face being made?
Is it fitness if the person pictured is "unattractive", but porn if the person is "attractive"?
Is it the heart of the post and the caption that differentiates between the two?
I really think it is all of the above (and then some), that plays a part in our selfie taking dilemma. For those who have a profile about plants, food, or babies...there really is no difficulty in over sexualizing your content (with the exception of #foodporn, because that's just straight up SEXY), but for those of us who are involved in the fitness world (or have been), things get just a little more fuzzy.
If you've read my first post in this series "How I Fell Into The Sex Industry" you know that I am speaking with a completely non-judgement heart here. After all, I believe I was one of the forerunners in BLURRING the line between fitness & porn; I turned it into a profitable business and I reaped all the "benefits" of it. I want to make it very clear that I am not putting myself ABOVE anyone who may [still] be posting content like I used to. I know what it is like to feel "harmless" in what I am posting, to be very pro "free the nipple" and think that it is helping end rape culture while inadvertently contributing to it. We are all on level ground here (even those of you who have never struggled with content and wear turtle necks 365 days a year). My heart is to help those who may be perpetuating the shame cycle in their lives without even knowing it. Maybe even those who are sitting on cloud 9 with thousands of followers, feeling super motivational, but all the while condoning & promoting a sense of body over mind, and paving the way for others to objectify them by objectifying themselves first?
We are currently experiencing a time where the fitness world has taken over all of our social media (and even our real life lives!). There is a such a beautiful aspect to this. We see people choosing healthy alternatives, focusing on family activities that get kids out of the house and into the fresh air. We see those who have struggled with obesity take active (and motivating) steps out of that lifestyle. We see people who have felt insecure all their lives decide to step on stage and compete in front of hundreds of people! This is great you guys!
On the flip side, we see SO many searching for acknowledgement, affirmation, and success purely off their bodies. We are seeing women willing to "take it all off" for the sake of a post that will receive a lot of likes, maybe even a repost or two! There is an epidemic of the health and happiness of a healthy lifestyle being overshot into the world of "I hope this photo of my bum in the gym goes viral". #belfie #fitness
In this post, I want to focus on some things that I believe could help those who are in the fitness world, or finding a passion for the fit life, and wondering what is an acceptable (I really dislike that word, but it's the only one that works here) selfie/post.
If you are a Believer, I would ask that you seek His will before every post. I STILL struggle, at times, with what is appropriate (there's that awful word again), but I take a few extra steps of thinking over if my post is beneficial, and running them by my Husband if I still have a weird hangup.
1. The absence of clothing is not innately sexual.
This is something I have said even back in the time that I was creating "sex content". It's something that, even though I used it to justify my images, I still stand by today. There have been so many absurd moves by the church to boycott different art installations and pieces purely because of nakedness. IE: Michelangelo's David
I believe one of the contributing factors to the rebellious nature we are seeing is due, in part, to the over sexualization of EVERYTHING: breast feeding, volleyball players, fitness competitions, pole fitness, etc.
Take away: Obviously you cannont compete in a competition in sweats. Obviously you cannot post a progress picture showing your abs/legs/etc in sweats. It's okay. Show them. Where a sports bra. Where a swimsuit. You are not responsible for EVERYONE'S minds...just yours.
But, BE RESPONSIBLE.
2. The presence of clothing is not innately non-sexual.
I've touched on this in prior posts, so I'll keep it short.
I don't know if you know this, but there ARE a lot of "modest women" that are living lives that don't reflect the outward appearance. This is not to judge them, but to address that looks are not always what they seem. In saying this, we should be careful when we put ugly labels someone who may look/dress/post a certain way. There is always more than what you can see!
How does this apply to our posts? Well. Just being clothed does not make your post non sexual. Really take into consideration your body language and facial expression. For me personally, I had a habit of always sticking out my tongue. Not in a cute silly smiley way, but just kinda, all out there. (eick! sorry Babe). If we are honest, we can look at that and think "What is the motivating factor behind that? What am I trying to promote here?". When Steve and I were dating, I posted one of those tongue selfies on Instagram (it was cute and my makeup was on point) and Steve texted me asking me to take it down. It felt like he was just being possessive, but looking back, there is SO many reasons why I'm happy he planted to the seed of me assessing why I "needed" to do those things. Which brings me to my next point...
Take away: It's easy to feel "classy" just because you're clothed. Think about what you're doing "behind closed doors" and in "real life" and make sure your portrayal of yourself matches your reality.
3. Body language will always speak more than your caption.
Captions that try to justify the image. This is what I see ALL over. (and this is exactly what I did).
If your image is "right" and you can sleep at night with the fact that you've posted it, you should not need words to justify. If you truly feel that your photo of your bum is a positive move, do you need to write a caption that says "my glute workout was so on point today, the pump is real...so, here's my butt!"? Why don't you feel great about just posting it?
I really really believe it may be because you know you shouldn't. (think about it?)
Why shouldn't you? It's your bod. You have no control over the millions of users on Instagram and how they will view and use you. I am so pro booty. You have no idea. I love helping my girlfriends maximize their gluteus and I love creating awesome workouts that do just that. But I cannot condone all these sweet women taking actions that remove their power over their bodies all the while believing that they are becoming more powerful!
Take away: Why are you arching your back and sticking out your bum? Is it to show a certain muscle group, or is it to make that photo ultra sexual? (be honest). Do we need to post that pic with our boobs out to show that we are free and fun, or can we just BE free and fun?
4. What is your "Why"?
What is the motive behind your post. Whether it's of your face, your car, your boyfriend, or your bod, what is the "WHY".
Focusing specifically on fitness/progress related posts, I think this is a really great way to gauge the content we are sharing. Coming from someone who is not necessarily "AGAINST" nakedness or the human form (news flash: we all have boobs or a penis), I think this is a great guide even just for balance in social media.
Ever seen someone post about how little they care about social media, or post about how amazing their lives are, they just don't care about posting it...well yeah, just that post shows that they may care more about social media than they think just by posting about it.
Take away: Social media is NOT the devil and it has had AMAZING benefits. People, like myself, have been able to make a business using their talents on social media. Celebrities like Aston Kutcher and Leo DiCaprio use their platforms for activism and awareness! There are so many positives, and you can be one of them. Just focus on your why.
Just because we CAN post it doesn't mean we SHOULD.
Can your fitness post be just as motivational without poppin the booty and showin the booby?
I think so.
At the end of the day, you are the only one who can control you. Only you can choose what is acceptable for YOU. I urge you to set the standard HIGH.