opinions

Breaking the taboo: the female body

The female body is beautiful, every woman has a unique shape, and I see no shame in showing off your body and taking pride in it.

However exposure of the female body still seems to be a taboo in our society, and there is an expectation for it to look a certain way, a pressure to appear traditionally ‘feminine’.

I am a woman. Like all women, I have breasts, body hair, scars and stretch marks. This is natural, and over the years I’ve learnt to love my female body, and I feel good about it when I show it off; we all should. But our ideology tells me I shouldn’t be proud to reveal it, I shouldn’t be ok with any imperfections. I’ve had enough of society repressing what is beautiful and natural, and I know I speak for many women when I say that.

Probably one of the greatest taboos around the female body is exposure of the nipple. Although both men and women have them, it’s deemed unacceptable to show them; they are considered pornographic and are censored by the media, and women who do freely exposure them are seen as sex objects, even though men are not when they walk down the street topless. This is not simply a matter of fear of nudity, but of feminism; it’s clear that there is a double standard here, but there is no reason to be. The only difference between the male and the female nipple is that the female’s is actually functional, and perhaps that is why there is such a taboo around exposure of them. I understand censoring of genitalia on social media etc. as it can be considered inappropriate for younger audiences to view these, and the female nipple is placed in the same category as this. However whilst genitalia have a sexual function, nipples have a maternal function, and I see no reason why that is considered inappropriate. Further more, this is a matter of female empowerment. Women are shamed for showing their nipples even when breastfeeding to keep their newborn healthy and strong. Exposure of them is natural; after all, they perform a vital function, and can be an expression of sexuality rather than vulgarity, much how men posing topless is viewed.

Another taboo is the fact that women have body hair. Of course this is no secret, however women are expected to maintain their body hair; shave it, wax it, remove it by any means possible in order to remain feminine and be accepted by society. Maintaining body hair is time-consuming, expensive and sometimes painful, but women do not appear to have a choice. Of course you can simply not shave, but then women are ridiculed for this and deemed to be less attractive, as if body hair is unnatural. Once again, there is a double standard here; men have the option to remove their body hair however there is no pressure to, and although some men may not like having body hair it is generally excepted that men shouldn’t have to maintain it, and some do find it attractive. Perhaps the reason why body hair is classed as ‘ugly’ on women is because it is usually associated with men (not to mention the unrealistic standards set by pornography that so many men believe is the norm for women). To start with, body hair is natural, it does not belong to either gender so both should have the same right to either maintain it or just let it grow. Secondly, even if you do associate body hair with being masculine, why do females have to abide to stereotypes and be traditionally feminine; gender identity is not defined by genitals, so if a woman does not identify with a feminine body image why should she have to maintain her body hair. And even if a woman identifies as cisgender, she has a choice whether she wants to shave or not, much like how men do, and she doesn’t deserve to be insulted because of her natural body.

 Women deserve the same freedom as men, including showing off their bodies. They deserve to express their sexuality, choose how to present their body, and maintain it as they wish. More importantly, the human body is natural, and shouldn’t be turned into a taboo topic as if it’s something digusting and inappropriate.

Our bodies are beautiful, and it’s about time that everyone realized that.

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