Women are taught to not be seen. It’s still considered a shameful thing in our society for our natural, naked bodies to be on display. In fact, the general public is so disconnected from real bodies that seeing one can cause shock and inspire heaps of criticism.
Public nudity was always a terrifying concept to me until I partook in an annual art event in which every inch of participants’ unclothed bodies was painted. I had never seen so many curves, rolls, and beautiful imperfections—and I work in the body positive and recovery community.
While there’s nothing wrong with our naked bodies and we don’t see a diverse range of bodies often enough, it is always wrong to threaten to share images of others taken without their consent. This week, Sia, a popular Australian singer-songwriter, was praised by celebrities on social media for releasing a nude rear photo taken by paparazzi.
“Someone is apparently trying to sell naked photos of me to my fans,” Sia wrote in an Instagram post. “Save your money, here it is for free. Everyday is Christmas!”
Sia’s actions and the show of solidarity by celebrities and news outlets were inspiring. However, the fact remains that Sia was violated. Sia is often called a “reclusive” pop star because she typically conceals her face with wigs, large bows, or hats. The paparazzi attempted to take her power over her own body and how it’s presented away from her, just as they have done to so many female celebrities before her.
I admire Sia for standing up and showing that the stigma surrounding nudity—particularly naked women—is wrong. With her large platform, Sia is playing an important role in the conversation around body image, nudity, and consent.
But we must also remember that this isn’t a fair or trivial matter and has everything to do with the ownership our society claims over women’s bodies. I chose to have my body publicly displayed and painted during that art event. Sia had no choice. Sia did not consent.
Diana Denza is NEDA’s senior communications associate. She graduated from Fordham University in 2011 with a degree in communications. Diana is a fan of good writing, wildly-colored hair, and cute desk toys.
Header photo via Instagram