If you are, like me, a female person who lives on planet earth, you’ve probably been told how to feel about it all your life. From schools to religious institutions, the world is very clear on how it expects “nice” young ladies to dress.
Recently, a story has been doing the rounds on Facebook. Two young ladies arrive at a meeting wearing clothes that are described as, and I quote, “quite revealing to their body parts”. The chairman of the meeting sits them down (only after he takes “a good look” at them, mind you) and tells them his views on revealing clothing.
He starts out by claiming everything valuable in the world is well-covered and hard to get.
“Where do you find DIAMONDS? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find PEARLS? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find GOLD?” etc.
This man then tells the women, “Your body is sacred and unique. You are far more precious than gold, diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.” Then he goes on to talk about how, if these girls keep their bodies “deeply covered” it will invite “professional miners” to “mine” them “professionally”. This is supposed to be a good thing.
But you know what? Women aren’t gold. We’re not diamonds. We aren’t pearls. Because here’s the thing: We’re not objects.
Objectification is when people are treated like things. Women aren’t only constantly objectified, we’re expected to objectify ourselves.
Instead of being told that her body is her own, a young girl is often told that her body is a ‘precious gift’, implying it really belongs to the man who’ll eventually possess it. Immediately, her body is reduced from a part of her person that she has full right and say over into an object some man owns.
The girl is then usually told not to “give” her “gift” away to just anyone, implying that if she does, she loses something precious. All of her merit, value and self-worth is tied into keeping her body so-called “pure”. So now, not only has her body been reduced to an object, but she has been reduced to her body.
Forget her desires, forget what she wants. The girl is now nothing more than a shiny object that is wrapped up and hidden away until her new owner comes to collect her, and the objectification process is complete.
The story on Facebook is captioned with an image, supposedly of the two girls. They’re in extremely high heels and are wearing skin-tight dresses. It’s quite eye-catching, and has no doubt helped this post to trend.
See, the only people who get to decide when and how to display female bodies are men. Women, as objects, don’t even get to make decisions about their own bodies, but men, as owners, get to use female bodies as they like.
More from Laura on body shaming: