Nudity v. Modesty: What's the Big Deal?

It seems like most people today have something negative to say about women's bodies and how they dress. While men can be huge critics, women also find it easy to tear each other down about the way they dress. Whether you choose to dress modestly or feel like showing a little more skin, somebody is going to shame you. Instead of talking about who doesn't respect themselves, who's a prude, who looks bad or why you look better than someone else, let's take time to unpack why nudity empowers some and how modesty empowers others, but most importantly, how these two things have more in common than you may think.

Why does nudity empower some women? That’s how they feel most comfortable and confident. Why do some like dressing modestly? That’s how they feel most comfortable and confident. Sense a pattern here? Many of us are piveleged enough to do what we want with our bodies, to some extent, especially when it comes to how we dress and what parts of our bodies we expose. No matter what type of physical appearance makes us happiest, we all have the same motivation. To feel good and self-assured.

Now while there will obviously be looks that you may not want to rock, don't throw stones at ladies who do! The golden rule truly applies here, treat other women the way you want other women to treat you. What your fellow ladies are wearing, or what they do with their appearance doesn’t hurt you, so don’t criticize it. Stop talking about Kim K., Miley Cyrus, or the girl at the beach wearing a swimsuit you wouldn’t wear. Just because your personal style is different than someone else's, doesn't mean theirs is wrong or ugly.  

In the past few years, a campaign called '#FreeTheNipple', has swept the internet. Celebrities including Miley Cyrus and Chelsea Handler have joined in the movement to bring awareness to female nipple censorship and sexual objectification of women. On social media websites, the female areola is considered to be "graphic content", and thus prohibited. For example, on Instagram, the Community Guidelines state that "for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram," and that nudity includes "some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed." While social media sites like Instagram continue to promote the objectification of the female body, #FreeTheNipple fights for the freedom of nudity for women. While some women choose not to free their own nipples, those who want to should be able to!

Recently, some have begun to view modesty as a form of oppression and not loving your body. However, someone who’s more modest in the way they dress can and should love their body just as much as one who dresses differently. Not wanting to show more skin is not synonymous with not loving the skin you're in. One prevelant example is the fact that Muslim women in the United States are being criticized for wearing hijabs because some Western women view them as oppressive. In an article titled “My Hijab is Not Oppressive, But Your Stereotypes Are,” Halima Ahmed describes the criticism, explaining that non-Muslim women argue that Muslim women don’t need to "wear this [their hijab] in the land of the free and the home of the brave." In other words, they are assuming that Muslim women are forced to cover themselves instead of feeling empowered to choose whether or not they wear the hijab. This article perfectly states, "The most essential part of fighting for someone's rights is listening to what they want and not what you want for them." Squelching the voices and choices of Muslim women is more oppressing than you may believe their hijabs are. Thus, the choice to wear a hijab or not to isn't in your hands. It's in the hands of every Muslim woman who make the choice to or to not wear a hijab; and it's definitely not your place to criticize that choice. Regardless of the woman, her religion, or her wardrobe, remember that her empowerment is in her choice and voice, not in her clothing. 

We face enough judgement as is, why bring each other down when we could lift each other up?  The reasons why nudity empowers some, and modesty empowers others is beside the point. The point is that we should celebrate what makes us feel most like ourselves, what makes us happy. If dressing a certain way makes you feel amazing; do it! Why get so bothered by what other people choose to do with their lives? If they're hurting no one, and are happy, who cares? Instead of choosing to let negativity control you, spread love, and celebrate the women around you for being confident and beautiful just as they are.