Dear Mr. Orlando,
I read your write up and I see what you’re saying about these photos. I find it interesting, however, that you exclude men, many of whom post images with the same intent to display their physiques for external approval, from your argument. I also find it interesting that you think that someone posting a picture for approval from others is so different than you or anyone else expressing views via social media so that strangers may validate your thoughts and congratulate you for what you believe. I, personally, am an advocate for both.
I value written expression and analyses as well as public display of the physical. Now I won’t pretend like numerous women don’t cross the line between tasteful and cheap, posting low quality bathroom shots in shirts that are barely there from angles that are unsubtly suggestive, but why do we elevate that so far above those post-gym mirror selfies of men with muscles bulging, who are still glistening with those oh-so-sexy thin layers of sweat (you, sir, have earned three heart eye emojis for your hard work)?
Additionally, in considering physical exposure versus written/verbal exposure to the public, again I wonder what makes those two concepts so different? Self esteem is a phrase that incorporates every aspect of one’s being, be that physical or mental. If a woman or man should abstain from posting photos for approval, why should you not hold back your views? You may be a professional writer or journalist, but so many who express similar views to yours publicly are not. There is no economic gain for their publicized posts.
They do, however, get the opportunity to boast their own personal skills and titles as you do via your “relationship/interpersonal relations expert who has spent the last 10+ years connecting with tens of thousands of people” description (which of course means, in large part, that thousands of random people are exposed and responsive to your views). They don’t know you anymore than I know “CaramelCutie” on Instagram via her last photo post.
Your self-esteem should give you the confidence to believe in your views, without the need to express them publicly, should it not? Well, given your argument, it should. My belief, however, is that whether a photo or a written post, your self esteem is not necessarily (nor ever truly directly) tied to your public image or voice. I believe that social media is the way of the world these days, and the “social” aspect of this media implies exposure to the public.
I am a fitness fanatic and a lover of fashion and beauty, among other things. Not too long ago, I did a partially nude photo shoot for one of my photography classes. The photos, I believed, were both tasteful and done with purpose. I have worked to form my physical self into something that I can be proud of (even though I’m not a supermodel, nor am I at all perfect by my standards). But what you see when you look at me is very much representative of who I am and how I live my life – what I love, what I appreciate and what I respect – a physique that epitomizes physical craftsmanship, hard work and care. When I post those shots for my friends and family to see, I’m not posting for a paycheck – you’re right about that. I’m posting it to show them all that I have worked epitomize physically (and yes, even to gain approval from strangers and see that my hard work is acknowledged and appreciated).
I’m posting to inspire people. Not everyone that comments on photos of this nature is a man 30 years senior with no values and a subscription to Playboy. A lot of women comment and are respectfully congratulatory, as is the case with men. To think that one should hide his or her physical pride because it is not for monetary gain is arguably worse than loving what you’ve been given or what you’ve worked for and being and being thankful that others love it as well. Even models and professional writers, if we’re “getting real for a minute or two” as you say, write and model for more than just monetary gain. Those same people have Instagrams and Twitter accounts on which they repost that same content for the world to see and appreciate.
I wrote this response not to criticize you, but because far too often women are grouped together derogatorily this way, especially as it relates to the physical. I’m not saying that everything that you’ve said is wrong or that some of the points that you’ve made are not valid. I do believe it would do your argument good to narrow your critical lens and clarify those that you are, or are not, criticizing. You may just find that you’re stepping on innocent fins while simultaneously letting guilty fish off of the hook.