When you see me, splashed about social media & prancing about for blog photos, what do you notice first?

For some, it will be the clothes that I wear.

For others, it will be my face – which is mostly likely a stern pout.

For some it is my weight – and I have written my thoughts on that contentious issue before!

This is my body. My tummy has stretch marks, scars, and rolls. My legs have thunder thighs and cellulite. My body may not live up to societies perception of beauty but my body is my body - why should I hide it?

When I began blogging I expected criticism and I have had my fair share.  I have been called names too hideous to even repeat and had my pictures splashed across hate sites.  I’m not going to say this hasn’t affected me, that I haven’t doubted myself or felt unworthy of putting myself out there – yet for every foul remark there has been praise!

Women have taken the time to let me know I have inspired them to wear what they want; women who, seeing me put myself out there, feel just that little more confident in their own skin.  For all my triviality of pretty clothes and lacy underwear – that is the reason I blog and that is why I can sit in bed as I write this, sipping my hot honey & lemon drink, whilst feeling perfectly content in my round, scarred, wobbly, fat body.

However, what I never really considered is the forced sexualisation that comes from being a confident woman unafraid to bare her face, and her body, to the world.

Perhaps I was naive in thinking I could talk about my love of lingerie without attracting sexual attention.  I mean, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked (even before starting this blog) if I buy lingerie for my husband or myself – perhaps that was a sign that people don’t truly believe that a girl can enjoy scanty lace and silk strappings unless they are for another person’s pleasure.  Perhaps, even in this enlightened age where women are running multi-billion dollar industries, instigating international humanitarian aid, leading nations, and even exploring space itself – perhaps, we’re still not allowed the simple pleasure of liking something for ourselves?

Recently, I listed some items for sale on eBay.  A sports bra that no longer fitted, a couple of dresses hardly worn, some shoes too high for me to wear now that I have a dead leg.  Three days later I was on the phone to the eBay complaints department to prevent people from contacting me unless they were verified accounts who had made successful, complaint free purchases.  For those three days leading up to that call, I was hounded by messages – ‘Are you single?’, ‘If I win the listing, can you send pictures of yourself with the item?’, ‘Wow, your boobs’, ‘Can I have your number’, ‘You are beautiful can I have more pictures’.

I’ve grown used to it on my blog and on social media.  Most comments get deleted and the account blocked.  Emails also mostly get deleted.  One or two I do chuckle about – like the man who wanted me to take pictures of myself splashing about in puddles so my stockings would get really muddy and dirty and soaking wet.  I mean really – you want me to get wet and cold in winter?  No thanks, I’m quite happy with my cup of tea and a custard cream by the fire place! Blocked!

I know others have been subjected to this too.  I spoke with Becky of Mrs BeBeBlog who has experienced it when promoting plus size and fuller figure lingerie.

Taking the step to include lingerie on the blog was a big one, but something I knew I really wanted to do, and something very important for me. I started the blog to show plus size women it was okay to feel to good, and that includes feeling great in lingerie. I also knew it was inevitable that it would attract unwanted male attention. As it was something I was prepared for I have been very measured in my responses. If it's a comment on social media I respond with a stock 'Thank you' it seems to work and I don't get any come back. If it's via private message and more intrusive or offensive (dick pics for example) I just completely ignore, delete and block. I decided very early on I wouldn't waste any energy responding to such nonsense!’

Becky’s response is very measured and grown up – more mature than my initial reactions and I admire her for that.  However, isn’t a sad state of things if we expect to receive dick pics and obscene messages?

Lingerie blogger Two Cakes on a Plate speaks out quite vehemently against the whole situation.

Two Cakes on a Plate Quote

It is not an unusual story even outside the realms of lingerie and fashion bloggers.  A very good friend of mine is a pole fitness artist – an incredible athlete who dedicates hours a week to her art.  Yet her Instagram is plagued by those wishing to objectify her.

Daria quote

Friends on dating sites, there for company and commitment, are also sent message after message.   Kathryn Kaupa of Miss Kathryn’s MissTakes talks of her online dating experience.

There is something about the Internet that brings out the worst in people. The anonymity. The power of being sat in your pants and being able to message women you wouldn't be able to pick the courage up to talk to 'in real life'. I receive messages like this daily, and I've taken to challenging these responses to take some of my power back - putting the children on the naughty step, if you like. I am not on dating sites to monetise or fetishise my fatness, I'm there to meet someone. And I won't have my charming profile and cute pictures tainted by men who want to fetishise my fat body - I'm DONE with that

In fact, sexual fetishisation of the female form seems to be more rife than ever.  The rise of the internet, the ability to hide behind a screen, to distance yourself from social prejudices, has led to a rise in freedom of expression.  This is, for the large part, a fantastic thing as people do not need to closet their desires.  People can join communities previously unknown to them, where judgement is set aside and sheer indulgence is allowed.  What is not right, however, is when unwilling participants are dragged into that community – just because they have listed themselves on Tinder, posted a picture on Instagram, or tried to sell a sports bra on eBay.

Is it right, that we should be sexually objectified, fetishised, and subjected to the desires of a person we have never met and whose attention we have never asked for?  By putting ourselves out there, are we asking for it?

I certainly don’t believe we are!

My body is not here for your pleasure. My body is mine and mine alone, to do as I want with - not as you wish. I am here to inspire others, to show that you do need to conform to ideals. I am here to be me - not yours!

Tonight myself and some other bloggers will be taking to social media to protest against this objectification.  We will be sharing our stories and having our say … join us and tell us your stories … use the hashtag  #NotForYourPleasure so we can find each other and support one another in making a stand against this hyper-sexualised view of women!

#NotForYourPleasure

PS. Go give Two Cakes on a Plate’s take on this post – it is really quite marvellous.  And if you write a post on the subject yourself then let me know & I will link to it!

 

Other posts on this subject:

Just Me Leah – Let me get it straight, I’m a plus size blogger

I am Leyah Shanks – My “pie” does not need your “cream”‘.  *NSFW* 

RollsAndCurves – The Consequences of Male Sexual Entitlement

Rachel BeeGee – Being a woman on the internet

Le Curvy Kitten – Living with the Enemy

 

9 thoughts

  1. I wish I could be surprised by this but I’m really not. But I’m angry. I’m angry that you seemingly can’t even use eBay without being harassed. It’s like a cancer, it seeps into every available space in society. Imagine being so consumed by your own sexual desire that you think it’s appropriate to send someone disgusting messages on eBay. It’s like you can’t live your life without being privy to what some douchecanoe’s inner most thoughts are.

    I’m so sorry this happened to you, and I think you’re so great for turning this into something empowering for other people.

    Like

  2. So much this! I photograph a lot of women in various states of undress, and whether they are naked or in lingerie, I am intending to make art, not to please a man. Brilliantly written

    Like

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