Featured Story// Censorship and the female body

Petra Collins is an artist. Most recently she has been in the news for designing a ‘Period Power‘ t-shirt for American Apparel, featuring an illustration of a vagina menstruating.  Petra the creative, also likes to post images on herself (who doesn’t?) on Instagram, which last week was deleted thanks to a particular ‘selfie’ deemed too inappropriate for the Instagram community.  Subsequently, she voiced her opinion on the matter to Oyster, discussing the all too familiar censorship and shaming of the female body. Below are some of the best bits taken from the article, of what unfortunately, just like Petra, we are all used to.

The Instagram post which got Petra's account removed

The Instagram post which got Petra’s account removed

I’m used to being told by society that I must regulate my body to fit the norm. I’m used to the fact that images of unaltered women are seen as unacceptable.

Recently I had my Instagram account deleted. I did nothing that violated the terms of use. No nudity, violence, pornography, unlawful, hateful, or infringing imagery. What I did have was an image of MY body that didn’t meet society’s standard of “femininity”. The image I posted was from the waist down wearing a bathing suit bottom in front of a sparkly backdrop. Unlike the 5,883,628 (this is how many images are tagged #bikini) bathing suit images on Instagram (see here and here) mine depicted my own unaltered state – an unshaven bikini line. Up until this moment I had obviously seen and felt the pressure to regulate my body but never thought I would literally experience it. 

 I’m used to seeing women being degraded, slut shamed, harassed for what they look like. Even the most powerful women in the world are measured by their appearance and constantly ridiculed for it.

I’m used to seeing blockbuster movies get a rating of NC-17 because a woman is shown receiving pleasure -while movies that feature men receiving pleasure get ratings as low as PG.

I’m used to seeing cover after cover featuring stories about a popular celebrity being fat-shamed during pregnancy.

I’m used to seeing reviews of an award show performance that critiques a female singer for being “slutty” but then fails to even mention the older male behind her.

These profiles [Instagram] mimic our physical selves and a lot of the time are even more important. They are ways to connect with an audience, to start discussion, and to create change. Through this removal I really felt how strong of a distrust and hate we have towards female bodies. The deletion of my account felt like a physical act, like the public coming at me with a razor, sticking their finger down my throat, forcing me to cover up, forcing me to succumb to societies image of beauty. That these very real pressures we face everyday can turn into literal censorship. 

If an online society of people can censor your body what stops them from doing so in real life. This is already happening, you experience this everyday. When someone catcalls at you, yells “SLUT”, comments on all your Facebook photos calling you “disgusting”, tries to physically violate you, spreads private nude images of you to a mass amount of people via text, calls you ugly, tells you to change your body, tells you are not perfect, this cannot continue to be our reality. To all the young girls and women, do not let this discourage you, do not let anyone tell you what you should look like, tell you how to be, tell you that you do not own your body.

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