#freethenipple!

Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you I'm not very conservative when it comes to my ta-tas.  I like sheer tops, I like side-boob, and I never wear a bra (unless I absolutely have to).  I have no qualms being topless, and would do so in public if it wouldn't land me in jail.  But alas, my nips are not allowed the freedom I feel they deserve.

As a woman, the exposure of my breasts is deemed inappropriate, whether I'm skinny dipping, feeding a baby, or just letting the girls out because I'm tired of the inequality they face on a daily basis.  Even as a kid I remember feeling confused why, when at the beach, boys could walk around without a shirt but I had to cope with chafing from a bathing suit top.  These days I'm still sort of confused, but mostly frustrated.  I realize that women's boobs have been sexualized, but why should we (ladies) be penalized for that?  It's not my fault if, at the beach, the exposure of my boobs causes a guy to get distracted and trip on a sand castle.  Sure, sure guys like breasts for scientific, natural reasons, it's "animalistic" or something.  So?  Women are attracted to men's pectorals and abs, but you don't see us freaking out when a guy takes off his tee at the pool.  

So why - in fucking 2014 - are women denied the right to go topless?  I'm looking at you Instagram.  

In case you live under a rock and haven't heard about the semi-recent Chelsea Handler boobalicious instagram scandal, I'll recap.  About two weeks ago, Handler posted a photo on insta of her riding a horse topless.  The photo poked fun at a similar picture taken by Vladmir Puton (yes, shirtless), and she captioned her photo with the words, "Taking this down is sexist.  I have every right to prove I have a better body than Putin."  Surprise, surprise, Instagram immediately removed the photo.  Handler retaliated and reposted it, this time with the caption, "If a man posts photos of his nipples, it's okay, but not a woman?  Are we in 1825?"  Again, Instagram removed the photo.  After a third posting, in which Handler wrote, "If Instagram takes this down again, you're saying Vladimir Putin has more 1st amendment rights than me.  Talk to your bosses."  They removed the photo.

This whole debacle outraged me.  Let me clarify, it's not like I want to post naked photos of myself all over the internet or plaster my boobs to every social media outlet.  But I sure as hell want the right to do so should I please.  As a body-positive feminist who's come a long way in learning to love her body, I've embraced my shape, my boobs, and all of the things I used to consider flaws.  I don't need the world telling me to keep it covered - it's my body, my rights.  

My death stare in regards to Instagram's anti-nipple policy

My death stare in regards to Instagram's anti-nipple policy

People argue that social media sites like Instagram don't allow nudity because children use the app.  Okay, I agree that there shouldn't be porn on insta.  I shouldn't have to worry about my little cousin accidentally stumbling onto a picture of some sweaty sexual act.  Men's privates aren't allowed on Instgram, and neither are vag-jay-jays.  That's fine, because at least there's equality and I suppose the line has to be drawn somewhere.  It's the breasts and nipples that I take issue with.  Are people really worried about their kids seeing boobs on instagram?  Because, honestly, that's indicative of a culture that still objectifies and fears the female form.  Why not teach our children that women's bodies aren't something to cover up or something to be sexualized?  Let's teach our kids that breasts are beautiful, and that they're part of the human body, one that shouldn't elicit shame.  If a man can have his nipples out - in public and on social media - women should be able to too.  I long for the day when I can have my breasts out and not have to worry about eliciting catcalls, outrage, or any sort of reaction.  They're just boobs for goodness sakes!

I'm not sure whether Instagram will ever change their stance on breasts, but I fully support and utilize the hashtag #freethenipple in the hopes that, maybe, it's eliciting even a little bit of change!

I also realize that not everyone is as passionate about this titssue (haha boob joke!), and to some, my ardor for freeing the nip might seem a little weird.  But, ultimately, it's not just about nipples.  It's about women having rights to their own bodies, it's about the ridiculous portrayal of women's bodies in the media, and it's about freedom of choice.  Whether you want to keep your boobs under cover or let em out into the world should be completely up to you.  By no means should you unleash your nips if you don't want to!  I just ask that my nipples be afforded the same rights as everyone else's, and that they stop being regarded as sexual/inappropriate/disgusting/shameful.  Nipples and boobs are magical, they really are, but ultimately they're just one part of a body, which is just one part of an amazing woman who should be able to do with her body as she pleases.

XOXO! 

High School Sweetheart

Howdy from Texas y'all - I'm back in my home state for just a couple of days.  And ohmygosh it is COLD here.  Like 32 degrees and sleety!  Eesh!

But it's fun to be back in the Lone Star State!

Less fun…the super bowl on Sunday.  Ugh, I can't even.

So!  Let's talk about Texas some more (and how the Cowboys really need to bring it next season).  Being back here is always nostalgic for me - I went to elementary, middle, and high school here, so I did most of my growing up in TX.  Today the reminiscing put me in a mood to do some creative, non-fiction writing, capturing some of the more vivid memories from my high school years.

 

She's fourteen - though she is often mistaken for twelve - and a complicated mixture of insecurity and confidence is etched into her movements.  Not quite sure how to carry herself; this body of a girl, all angular and flat, while her friends are blossoming and budding.  She's shy around strangers, quick to cry, even quicker to blush.  But there's a grittiness to her; beneath the awkwardness there is a flicker -  a flame of mischievous passion.  When she runs there is no stopping her, and when she smiles it's captivating.  She's not beautiful, no, not exactly.  But she's different - those big, blue eyes hold countless dreams - her imagination stirring behind the pupils.  Her sun sign - a Leo - prone to drama and a need for the spotlight…though she's often scared to claim it.

She's fifteen and girls are mean.  Heart wrenchingly mean.  She comes home and collapses into her cocoon bed, staring at the moody, melancholy purple walls.  They called her a bitch, the word scrawled messily onto the front page of her notebook.  She rips the paper to shreds, but the black ink seems to snarl…the words feel damning between her shaking fingers.

She's fifteen and dating a boy.  He's sweet, all goofy laughter and gangly limbs.  They meet after school and make out in the hot tub at the gym.  She wonders if she's doing it right, and navigates the lust and the fear with her lips.  She thinks she likes the way it feels.  Isn't kissing supposed to be like fireworks?  There's no flash bang of July 4th, but his mouth is warm and, besides, everyone else is doing it.

She's fifteen and a boy touches her.  She let's him - she thinks she wants him to feel her heartbeat, feel the rush and pulse of her body.  But almost immediately, a crashing, shattering feeling of shame slams through her chest.  She pulls away, breathless in the worst possible way, and leaves without a word.

She's sixteen and counting calories.  Sixteen and convinced that 99 pounds isn't low enough.  Every meal becomes a nightmare, but she learns how to hide her hunger and hate her appearance.  Her heart beings to dance, skipping beats and aching through her shirts.  She feels dizzy, terrified, and weak...but pretty.

She's sixteen and everything comes crashing down.

She's sixteen and realizes that she's stronger than she ever thought.  She finds strength in her family, her friends, and - most importantly - in herself.  And for the first time, she begins to understand that "pretty" is a dangerous and destructive word.  A word that will take years to lose its power over her.

She's seventeen and reckless.  There are late-night parties at the lake, with bonfires and guitars and talk of alcohol.  The boys tease the girls, and relationships swell and collapse in the midnight hours.  They listen to metal bands with funny names, and she laughs with her girlfriends as they make up new lyrics and finish each other's sentences.  On the Fourth of July she sneaks out to set off fireworks.  The boy she likes is there - the one with the charismatic smile and the silly nickname.  He aims a Black Cat at her - she gasps at the shocking heat and tingling phhhhhhst as the firework catapults past her face, stinging the side of her cheek.  She's angry, rattled by the scent of burning air.  But he scoops her up, throws her over his shoulders, and she laughs wildly, the sound brighter than the fire singed sky.

She's seventeen and has the best friend in the world.  They are closer than sisters - cosmically connected.  They dress up for photo shoots, and strut down hallways like runway models.  They run together and no one else can keep up - cross country and track addicts, they spend weekends running, laughing, and daydreaming about the future.  This is the sort of friendship that lasts forever, in spite of distance, time, and growing up.

She is eighteen and about to head to college.

She is eighteen and everything has gone by so, so fast.  She's nervous but ecstatic, vulnerable but strong.  Her body still aches with the scars of insecurity - some wounds will take years to heal.  But the fire in her eyes glows brighter than ever.  She is smoldering, a lioness just waking to her potential.  A girl on the cusp of becoming a woman.  A dreamer who's adventures, hardships, and joys are just beginning.

 

As always, thanks for reading y'all - it means the world to me :)

XOXO

While I was home today, I tried on my old prom dress.  Somehow I managed to squeeze my more womanly form into a dress made for a girl (I couldn't breath and I'm pretty sure I broke the zipper).  I've gotta say, this frilly little Betsey Johnson ensemble made me feel - for a few minutes at least - like I was 17 again :)

While I was home today, I tried on my old prom dress.  Somehow I managed to squeeze my more womanly form into a dress made for a girl (I couldn't breath and I'm pretty sure I broke the zipper).  I've gotta say, this frilly little Betsey Johnson ensemble made me feel - for a few minutes at least - like I was 17 again :)

Grrrl Talk

After 24 years of life, I’ve heard just about every complaint a woman can have about her body.  Whether it was from my best friends, girls in my sorority, family members, or complete strangers, I’ve heard women say a lot of terrible things about themselves – myself included.  A vocabulary of hate/disgust/shame is practically handed to us on a silver platter as girls, and most ladies will – at some point in their lives - use this dialog to bring themselves down.  Self-degradation is so ridiculously common; even some of the strongest, most confident women I know berate themselves for not being skinny enough, having bad skin, having weird boobs…the list goes on and on and on.  When we don’t live up to the images we see online, in movies, in magazines, in our own minds, we become destructive – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

 

A few things I have a history of beating myself up over:

My hair

My boobs

My figure  - I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished for the bodies of my curvier friends!

 

Things I’ve watched beautiful, wonderful women beat themselves up over:

Their thighs, hips, and booty

Their skin, freckles, and birthmarks

Their hair

 

We then take these traits and smash them together with things viewed as “negative.” 

Thin, bland hair

Small boobs

Boyish, stick-like figure

Thighs that touch, large hips and a big booty

Pale skin

Dark, mousy brown hair

 

You get the idea. 

But my question is – why the hell are all of these attributes (and other traits) seen as negative?  Because some super model on a magazine cover has thick, blonde hair, a tiny waist, ginormous breasts, and perfectly tanned skin?

Who made that the ideal image of beauty?  Who decided on that?  The consumers?  The male population?  Women?  The magazine’s editor?

I don’t care who it was/is.  What matters is that WE make the decision to stop viewing a very narrow selection of attributes as beautiful.  Big hips are just as positive and beautiful as a more boyish frame.  Blonde hair, brown hair, purple hair – it’s all fucking rad.  

It devastates me that women attach so much negativity to the very things that make them beautiful.   I hate hearing girls lament their so-called “flaws” – hell, that self-degradation makes up a good portion of most gals conversations.  If I had a kitten for every time my girlfriends and I sat around and mourned all the things we hate about ourselves I’d be a crazy cat lady by now (which would actually be fine since I love cats).  Besides, shouldn’t we be putting a heck of lot more emphasis on what’s on the inside?  Why can’t we sit around and talk about how emphatic, hilarious, and quirky we are? 

So, along with my mission to make February a month of self-love, I also want to make an effort to stop the trash talking.  Whenever I feel the urge to say something bad about myself (or anyone else for that matter), I’m going to stop myself and replace it with something positive.

I’m hoping that – by the end of the month – I’ll have replaced the hurtful habit of berating myself with a new vocabulary of positivity and confidence.

I’m going to start right now and list three fabulous things about myself:

My pink hair is totally fun and cute and suits my personality.

My legs have gotten super strong from working out and taking barre classes.

I’m opinionated and sweetly fierce – I’m not afraid to stand up for my beliefs!

 

Okay, your turn!

XOXO!

(The following photos are actually from several different shoots.  I did a whole photo spread called "Glamour Kills" in college, and when I stumbled across those photos earlier, I realized that they'd fit together perfectly with several pictures I took earlier this year - and this post.  I think they capture the desperation we, as women, often feel to fit a certain "desirable" and "beautiful" mold, and the sadness and self-loathing that occur because of such permeating, damaging ideas.)

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