Thought Catalog
June 30, 2014

An Open Letter To The Woman Who Says Social Media Bikini Photos Are Ruining Her Marriage

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What is the issue?
I wrote this as a letter to a particular woman, dealing with the excruciating pain of insecurity that had gotten so far she reached out to the internet, not in judgment — at least not conscious judgment — but in helplessness. She doesn’t think her marriage can survive the social media bikini shots. And while this is an extreme case, it is an issue that affects many. It is something that requires a pointed rewiring of your thought process. So to all of you, not just Lauren, you are beautiful. That said…

Hey Lauren,

Hi there.

I’m Darlena.

As I’m sure you’re well aware by now, your post about internet boobs ruining your marriage made quite a stir.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to judge you, and I don’t hate you, and you didn’t make me mad.

What I really want to say to you is this:

Do you know how beautiful you are?

Let me be the first (or millionth) to tell you: You are freaking gorgeous.

You’re gorgeous in your profile picture, with your hair all done and your makeup on. And you are gorgeous with flat hair and sweat dripping from your forehead. You are magnificent. There is not one Internet boob that stands a chance against you. I mean that and it is important. You hold within you the power of a billion Internet boobs. They are not a threat to you. You are worth so much more than a crack of cleavage. I promise you.

Are you alone? I mean… lonely? I’ve only moved to Florida, a two hour plane ride from my friends and family, and I can tell you, there were days when my girls were little where I didn’t speak a word. Days and days at a time. I just ask because it sounds like you could use a hug. Or at least a cup of coffee with a friend, where you both just sit around and do nothing and laugh at the world for being the world. It sounds like maybe you’ve been too busy or too stressed or both, lately, to see your true self. The awesomeness that is you.

Whether you’re decked out in a Brazilian bikini, or chilling in a tankini with a skirt attached, I can guarantee you that you look phenomenal. And more than that, I’m sure, as a person, you are phenomenal.

Your husband thinks so. He married — not a set of boobs and what I’m sure is a fantastic ass — but a person. You.

And from what little you said about him in your piece, he sounds like a really nice, stand-up guy. The kind of guy who would willing avert his eyes from Internet friends’ bikini shots because they make you uncomfortable. Someone who is willing to adhere respectfully to your boundaries is a keeper, for sure.

Another important thing to discuss before I get into the nitty-gritty is that you have a right to feel uncomfortable. You have a right to your feelings. I would mildly suggest you attempt to change your outlook, but, honestly, it’s because I’ve been there, girl. I’ve been right there, and feeling that way freaking sucks. It sucks. It’s horrible to have to feel that way. It’s life-sucking, energy-draining and futile.

This here:

“After Memorial Day, I noticed so much skin on social media that I half-yelled a warning to him as I ran out the door one morning. It’s summertime, honey! Beware the beach pics and half nude girls on Instagram! And like that, he was in solitary confinement from all virtual community for the next two days. 

Protecting his eyes, protecting his heart.

This is quite possibly the saddest thing I’ve ever read.

It’s seconded only to this:

When your bare shoulders and stretchmark-less bellies and tanned legs pop up, I not only worry if my husband will linger over your picture. I worry how he will compare me to you. 

As I wrap myself into his arms at night, I wonder if he is seeing you there instead of my mess of a body left over from pregnancy. I wonder if he thinks I’m lazy and that I don’t take good care of myself. I wonder if he wishes I looked more like you than who I really am.

To which I just want to say, “oh, honey” in all sincerity.

You (the general you) spend time rating your friends and enemies. How do they not have cellulite? That is a legit question! And stretch marks, God, have I cried about my stretch marks. I’m not one of those “they are my tiger stripes” women, let me tell you. I won’t have sex without a shirt on, and I have, like, really high self-esteem. In fact, if we were Facebook friends, your post would have been directed at me.

Because I have, and do, and will continue to post bikini photos.

This shouldn’t make us enemies, dude. My pictures are nothing to you. And they carry no threat. I promise.

And you were very pointed in saying you weren’t judging women who post these shots. Rather, it was more like you were asking them a personal favor. For you. For your marriage.

But the thing is… well, you can’t really ask the internet for a personal favor. It doesn’t work that way. And the second you imply random Internet people need to make a change (which may be unhealthy for them) for you, is the second you cast blame, however implicitly, and is the second you cross the line.

Of course people are mad. Even though you said you weren’t shaming them, you totally just shamed them.

Moving on from them, though, if your husband hasn’t given you reason not to, how about giving him a chance? He doesn’t need to protect his eyes or his heart. They belong to you. Internet boobies do not come between true love. And the visual thing? That’s silly. You know it’s silly. Don’t give men an excuse like that. They have autonomy. They have control over themselves. They are human beings just like we are. They can and do stop themselves from making those types of mistakes. And if they don’t? It is their fault.

It is their fault.

Not ours. Not yours. And if they somehow cannot help themselves, and refuse to acknowledge that they are a thinking human being? Then you don’t need to be married to them. I mean, it would be like you being, I can’t read or do maths! I’m a woman! Our sex, our biology, does not overrun our judgment.

And the internet hate you’re getting right now? I’m sorry about that, I really am… But I’m hoping you’re looking at it.

The way you are dealing with this isn’t healthy for you. It’s a game you will never win. Other women exist and they all have boobs and butts. No matter where you go, you’re going to run into them. They will never not be there. And if that eats at your insecurities, you are in for a life of pain. That’s why they’re suggesting counseling (albeit, I’m sure not kindly). Because if you don’t think you’re superior to some random internet ta-tas, your self-image isn’t being fair to the goddess I’m sure you are.

Not only can’t you stop women from posting their fun, empowering vacation shots, you shouldn’t want to. Everyone is beautiful, and asking someone else to hide their beauty so that you can feel more secure in yours is just backwards.

And it won’t work. Not in the long run.

Love yourself, Lauren. We do.

The point is, changing the attire of every woman in the world is not only impossible, it’s also not going to help you. Your problem doesn’t lie within us.

I wish you luck. TC mark

featured image – Ella Ceron / Instagram

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