Ladies, Please Stop Doing This On Instagram

This post doesn’t encourage random lurkers/stalkers/pedophiles to stalk/hurt young women. I’m not “indirectly contributing to rape culture” (as one commenter accused me of doing). This post isn’t about the men who gawk and drool over these women, it’s about the women themselves. THEIR self-esteems (or lack thereof) being fueled by the wrong things, and them offering a singular perception of their value. Beauty is great, but it shouldn’t be the only source of your self-confidence.

Jacob Owens

To those young women on Instagram:

You might be beautiful. You might be built. You might love your body and have the confidence to show it proudly…and that’s great. Seriously, I’m happy for you (no sarcasm). In today’s fast-food, overindulged, carbohydrate-addicted world, maintaining a hot figure is challenging, so you get full marks for your efforts and workout regimen. But let’s get real for a minute or two, shall we?

Let’s not kid ourselves. You can look in the mirror and feel proud of your body. You can walk down the street and receive looks and compliments on your beauty. That’s not the reason you’re on Instagram, and it certainly isn’t the reason you’re posing half-naked. If you think that posting these pics is how to be happy with yourself, think again!

Posing in a lace bra and a G-string on Instagram doesn’t give the perception that you are a “lingerie model,” it makes you look cheap, like the only value you offer is your body. The psychology behind your behavior in taking these nude pics is very straight-forward: you’re suffering from a lack of self-esteem and are looking externally to make yourself feel good about you. But you’re kidding yourself. It’s called self-esteem because it emanates from the self.

And while we’re talking, let’s make something crystal clear: what you’re doing isn’t “modeling.” Victoria Secret models pose on a professional photo set to sell lingerie and associated products for a company. In short, they get paid for modeling. They don’t bare their pink parts dancing to Usher under a fluorescent bathroom light, sporting a pouty duckface with a Toy Story shower curtain as a backdrop. Models work. What the hell are you doing? I’ll tell you: giving peeks of your naked self away to random lurkers/stalkers/pedophiles, that’s what.

A reality check: Any picture of a naked/half-naked woman will get LOTS of views online. It doesn’t make you special, it makes you an adult film star, but without the paycheck. Nothing wrong with posing nude for kicks or paychecks, if that’s what you want to do. But please stop fooling yourself into thinking that the “likes” and “shares” you get are because they like you. They like the show you are giving them; they don’t care who you are.

My advice: If you want to be a model, DO IT! Put together a portfolio, pay your dues, and follow your dream. Otherwise, you are shaking your stuff for someone else’s cheap thrill, while pretending it boosts your self-esteem as you get views on your pics. You can choose to be whatever you want to be: a doctor, model, business woman, adult film star, whatever you want. Just do it with some dignity. Don’t sell your integrity and self-esteem for the price of an affirmative “click here if you think my pink parts are pretty!” You will only attract the wrong kind of guy that way, and you are selling out women everywhere—including my 15-year-old daughter. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Note from author, Charles J. Orlando (3/17/2016):

This article was meant to highlight the difference between true confidence and needing external acceptance — and how that can negatively affect self-esteem — in an “in-your-face” way. Clearly, it was written WAY too subjectively, and is subject to multiple interpretations.

As I re-read it now, I think I sound like a judgmental, misinformed prick. In my [limited] defense, this was originally written nearly four years ago — when building an entire career on social media wasn’t so commonplace and many people posting were looking for likes and not working. Even so, that hardly explains/excuses the tone my writing took at that time.

To be clear: This article highlights a complete failure to communicate on my part. I hate it and the tone I took when first writing it… and I unfortunately agree with the assessment that it doesn’t communicate my original goal. The way it reads and is being interpreted is actually completely opposite of what I was trying to communicate. And for that, readers have my sincerest apologies.

To those readers, your comments and thoughts have been duly noted. With a strong voice comes a responsibility to think before speaking/writing. Please know that lesson has been learned.

This post originally appeared at YourTango.

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