I have started a debate that can not be won.
A debate, which hits right at the core of #metoo, the 1000 accused in the Umbrella case and similar themes, that has characterized our medias for a long time.
It's not a debate to be won, not at all, as this would mean that someone loses and in this situation we can't afford that, having loosers. It's too important.
So, what's it all about? Let me start at the point of no return, where I first chose to comment on another woman's picture on Instagram.
Like so many others, I'm a happy user of this fantastic social photobased media. I follow everything that has my interest; food, cats, tech, design, humor, interesting people, the beauty segment as well as all sorts of other things, a great big hotchpotch of stuff. That's the beauty of Instagram, and personally, I use my profile as a reflection of my life in its entirety. For me, that's the best use of the medium.
A SoMe star changes style
Enough about my usage. The root of the unwinnable debate came, as a beauty blogger named Kristi, also known as Raw Beauty Kristi, posted a rather sexually charged picture. Something, that doesn't match her previous way of communicating. More on that in a minute.
“What's so wrong with posting a picture like that”, someone might ask? “It's her body, so surely it's her choice.”
Of course it is – both the part about the body and the choice. The problem is, that she with this picture has started a personal avalanche, that so many other young women also may end up in. As many already are in. Kristi is a public SoMe star with many followers on both YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, Snap (formerly known as Snapchat) and Instagram. The response to her photo was, for the most part, as I would expect; a lot of young women, celebrates her courage and deliciousness.
Because yes – she looks good. Part of the background story about Kristi is, that she has been seriously overweight due to PCOS, stomach problems and other ailments, while she insisted on being herself. She creates beautiful make-ups, creates open-hearted videos about her life, and does what she can to live up to Raw – unedited – part of her name. She is an inspiration to women, that does not bother the shit that everyone has to be thin and uniform in size, shape or form.
The picture that started the debate, that cannot be won
Last year she began working on her weight issue. It wasn't done with graphic details or loss of focus from her brand. It was a personal decision, that certainly will give her a better quality of life. Go girl!
That brings me back to the debate that cannot be won, and the photo that made me comment. Or rather, the reason I had to react.
As mentioned Kristi represents so many young women. Women, struggling with unrealistic body ideals, that has nothing to do with reality. Until the picture in focus, she was on a path, which was sound, judicious and inspiring. The moment she changed the style of his posts, and chose to stand up in lingerie in a sensual pose, she opened up to a whole new audience, who does not see her as inspirational and courageous. She opened up for a certain segment of people, a segment which in large parts are responsible for creating the infrastructure of the web; people searching for pictures and movies for sexual gratification. Given her previous style, it looked like an ill-considered move that can bring with it undesired consequences for her person and life. So I commented and was met with the expected backlash. A backlash from people who immediately believes, that I'm criticizing her or want to hinder her freedom of speech. Women, who most likely live in blissful ignorance, not fully knowing what the Internet does best. Not fully comprehending or accepting the one certainty of the web, that it never ever forgets.
The Internet remembers – and it remembers everything!
They might not know this, but the internet is full of small, invisible robots made of code, which collects and disseminates text, pictures and video at such a pace, that no human can follow. When Kristi posted the picture, she changed her own life trajectory on the Internet. At the same time she justified the idea to many young women, that this kind of photos should be publicly available.
“But that's what you have always done”, is one of the arguments. Correct, but…
Unlike 'the old days’ everything is spread in an insane pace due to the Internet and the digital revolution. Something, that has changed the game completely. Just look at the Umbrella case from Denmark.
So, so what? It doesn't stop, because there will always be someone, who need sto express themselves through sexuality. It's nice to be seen, praised and celebrated. Before anyone accuses me of being a neo-puritan or, as someone deemed necessary to accuse me of after my comment; being boring, I'd like to emphasize that I have no problem with living out your sexuality. There are other more befitting, or less exposing, ways to show your sexuality and strength. Also online.
Sensuality and sexuality in honest form
I'd like you to meet this young, who I am fortunate to know; Louise Amalie Juul. She rejects body ideals, personal insecurities and life as a young woman, using words and pictures. Raw, uncensored ones. It's sexuality and sensuality,, without exhibiting her as an object. This is where the issue with Kristi's choice lies, where I reached my limit and had to speak out.
It's a limit, that I countless times try to make – especially girls – aware of. A boundary that occurs when young people in their innocence puts pictures online with more skin than clothing. Louise Amalie's pictures are also joining the net with all the small, fast robots, but here the design and setting is daily life. Natural. Run around naked in your home-like. There is no 'see me as someone you want to bang’ vibe about them. It's 'just’ bare skin, sometimes wrapped in the stuff that women like to dress themselves in, not being dressy or anything. Just being.
Her photos are, by some, crossing lines of 'proper' behavior, not passing for what is considered appropriate in the public space. That debate has been around since the body went from something you hid to a thing you had the right to show if you wanted. Once upon a time, the ankle was the hottest sexual object you could find, and even burkinis shows more skin than you did back then.
No matter how you look at it, public nudity is something you should consider very seriously before doing anything, especially in the digital space. The reasons why have been repeated multiple times in this article. In my view, the message that such a picture entails should be pondered upon. You decide the subject but the Internet determines the exposure. There are no editors or brakes when it's gone online.
Kristi is part of a trend on Instagram, actually trying to pay homage to women's right to be who want to be, but failing, as it ends up exhibiting them as common sexual objects. I am convinced, that it is not her intention to be – excuse my choice of language – a jerk-off worthy object. Unfortunately, her choice of exposure equates her with images in various men's magazines. The debate about whether or not this is okay, should or shouldn't be okay and the right to self-expression no matter what, isn't something I'm going into here.. I'm not engaged in a kind of victim blaming. I'm simply trying to relay what the realities are, no matter what I feel about them.
Awareness is the best defense
Kritsi is not the first, nor will she be that last, who will post pictures like the aforementioned. She's an adult, so it's kind of her right regardless of what I and others believe. My concerns should always be about the impact it creates, when popular people do something and post it on social media. Our children and young people can, to some extent, differentiate between what's good and bad, but as I've mentioned many times before, we are missing the aspect of digital upbringing and that put the children and young people in harms way. Because of this lack of digital upbringing, caused by the rapid expansion and development of technology, hinders their ability have a critical and reflective view on things they meet. Especially online.
I continue to get negative comments about my comment, and I expected nothing less. You don't become friends with people when you are sporting unpopular opinions, allowing yourself to create awareness about the negative side of posting things.
When writing this we finish week 6, where Denmark's school system every year focused heavily on sex and society. A very important concept, and it's not only a time to talk about birth control, intercourse and how the body works. As a parent or responsible adult, we have to help the next generations, so they can see it all- pros and cons - of their online actions.
For more information about helping the next generation, here's a list of useful material for the Danish community, you as well as old. So with a final thank you to Louise Amalie for standing by the purity of her own body, existence, experiences and life in general, I will continue my goal of raising awareness.
Sex and Society – https://www.sexogsamfund.dk/foraeldre
Red Barnet – https://redbarnet.dk/vores-arbejde/vold-og-overgreb/digitale-overgreb/
Children's conditions – https://bornsvilkar.dk/radgivning/undervisning/digitalt/digitale-kraenkelser
Center for digital pedagogy – https://cfdp.dk/har-du-vaeret-noegen-paa-nettet-nyt-materiale-til-boern-og-unge/
Raw Beauty Kristi
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/rawbeautykristi/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOtoxvHLKrIlWbt4MRBWfbQ
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Raw-Beauty-Kristi