On Body Shaming and A Reminder for Myself Not to Constantly Criticize Others

People always have something to say about others, be it about their face, their body, their skin color, the way they dress up, their love life, even to the very personal thing that is their belief. It’s inevitable that at some point you’ll have a personal judgement about these things too. But does that mean that you should voice yours simply because you have one? Because you think that they need to know what’s on your mind, despite the fact that your opinion –which they never asked for in the first place– might hurt their feelings? No, it does not. Giving an unsolicited opinion can be rude and hurtful sometimes.

With the help of social media, today’s generation doesn’t seem to face difficulty in expressing and delivering their opinion. Twitter now allows you to write up to 280 characters per tweet. You‘re basically only one tweet away to tell those celebs about how pretty they looked before the plastic surgery, or how they look too fat or too skinny now. It is one thing to have an opinion, be it positive or negative, but it is another thing to deliver it in a hateful way without any good intention other than hurting or making fun of the target.

And now that almost all celebs are on Instagram, it became easier for us to leave a comment on their post. To be honest, I find pleasure in reading some funny comments on social media, they’re like the source of my happiness. That’s why sometimes scrolling through the comment section can be more interesting than actually seeing the content posted. But recently, the comment section is misused as an outlet to hate on others, to make fun and body-shame others. Let’s talk a bit about the latter. Body-shaming manifests in many ways and one of them is criticizing another’s appearance, be it in front of them or without their knowledge. Anyone online could experience body shaming, but it’s celebs who have to deal with it the most.

It’s only 9 days into 2018 when I heard that Kendall Jenner got shamed for having acne on her face during the Golden Globes red carpet. Some people were getting pretty judgemental about her acnes and decided to tweet it. Some also questioned for what she was even there at the event. But her fans came to her defense and praised her for showing that everyone, no matter how rich or famous, has experienced acne. Well, what’s so wrong about it? Acne is the most common skin problem. It’s not only people with acne-prone or oily skin who deal with it. No matter what your skin type, your skin condition, we’ll likely to get it at some point in our life. Just because she’s a supermodel and considered to have access to the best skincare in the world doesn’t mean she won’t have it. Nobody is immune to the occasional break out so why make fun of her when you can have it too, or perhaps worse than her?

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Can’t we just appreciate how stunning she was at that event, wearing black Giambattista Valli gown in solidarity with the Time’s Up movement? She was there supporting the movement, along with other celebs too, so what’s the problem? With that being said, it’s just sad that some people on the internet chose to ignore the overall appearance of a woman and most importantly a night’s powerful message that is putting an end to sexism and sexual harassment in Hollywood, and instead chose to criticize unimportant thing that completely has nothing to do with the whole event; that is Kendall Jenner’s acne. And it’s even sadder that it’s mostly done by women to fellow women. It’s like no matter how many women empowerment movement are formed, women still tear each other down over physical appearance.

Body-shaming and other physical related shaming perpetuates the idea that people should be judged mainly for their physical features. And unfortunately, nobody is ever really safe from it. Still from The Kardashian family, Kim Kardashian was body shamed while she was pregnant, even until when she’s no longer pregnant. Haters called her horrible names like fat and even compared her to a killer whale. You should’ve seen the meme all over the internet. Goddamn people it’s pretty humanly to gain weights especially when you’re pregnant.

A long list of awards and accomplishment that you ever received apparently still won’t be enough to save you from critical eyes that constantly keep an eye on every change on your body. Rihanna is one of the world’s busiest people, she’s rich, pretty and hot af, and she still got body-shamed for gaining a few pounds of weight. So what? That extra pounds doesn’t make her less admirable. She’s confident and comfortable with her fluctuating body and that’s what really matters.

Being a part of the British Royal Family won’t be enough to stop people from body-shaming you. People are body-shaming the Duchess of Cambridge by saying that she appears to be too thin to be healthily pregnant. Some even called her anorexic and malnourished. It’s pretty offensive, isn’t it? I’ve never been pregnant before but I know enough to say that carrying a baby inside you is already a struggle on its own. And now that she also suffers from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, your acid remarks is pretty much the last thing she wanna hear. Shaming a pregnant woman (or any woman) for any reason is not cool, and no one should have to put up with it.

The fact that there are conversations about Kendall’s acne or Rihanna’s fluctuating body at all is a reminder of how much emphasis our society still put on women’s appearance as important and valuable, and that people will always find something to be criticized, no matter how normal that thing is. And since I’m a part of the society, I keep reminding myself that we’re more than just pretty faces, and that “nobody’s perfect” doesn’t just apply to us normies but to celebrities too. And most importantly, I keep reminding myself not to constantly criticize others for every little thing they do, for every little change in their body. I won’t be happy to get criticized by people who have no idea what I’ve been through with my body so I might as well try my best not to do it to others. What you put out is what you get back. Would you want someone to do or say something to hurt you? Of course not!

You’re Different From Other Women vs. You’re Just Like Other Women

Sometimes I wonder how quick someone could go from saying “you’re different from other women” to “you’re just like other women” while in reality you don’t even change anything of yourself, not even one bit from the last time he said it as a way to compliment you. Wait, is that even a legit compliment? And I’m still hella confused with why being told “you’re just like other women” is threathening and heart-wrenching for some of us women?

Aeons ago when someone told me I was different or better than other women, I used to put a smile, I felt superior, and I took that as a compliment. I was so excited about this validation, so ready to succumb to the internalized sexism that made me compare myself to other women in the first place. But that was aeons ago, before I realized that the person who told me this was basically holding the stereotypes of how women should/shouldn’t be and things they believe women could/couldn’t be. It made me feel as though I was in the middle of competition with other women to win man’s approval. “kamu beda ya, anteng, engga kayak cewek lain yang cerewet dan bikin pusing” “kamu terbuka banget ya pola pikirnya, ga jaim, ga malu ngomongin hal kaya gini, gak kayak perempuan lain yang sok-sok polos padahal kelakuannya ancur”. I do love compliments. I admit it. I don’t want to be naive, though. But keep in mind that you don’t have to disparage other women just to make me feel better than them.

“Different from other women” creates entitlement for women to judge other women’s decisions. It means he doesn’t see her as an individual person but rather as a representative of her gender, who must somehow prove that she is above all the stereotypes he buys into. It is used as a way for all genders to make themselves feel like they are above all others, and that women must compete with each other for male attention and approval. Well, I know this is a tricky situation, so context very matters and well plays into this a lot.

It’s not just about gender, though. “you’re so funny” is a compliment, but when you’re saying it out of surprise because a woman could be so funny, you’re just saying you think women aren’t funny. “you’re so beautiful” is a compliment, until you’re saying it to a lesbian because you’re surprised to find out that a lesbian could be so pretty. Saying “you’re so handsome” alone is a compliment, but saying “you’re too handsome to be a gay” is not a compliment. It’s pretty much dismissing their entire group. It’s pretty much saying that gay are supposed to be everything but handsome. It’s fine for you to think someone is great in a special way, as long as it doesn’t entail dismissing the value of an entire identity of group that they belong to. Next time you think “wow, you’re so [insert nice things here] for a [insert marginalized identity here]” – keep it to yourself.

Back then, when someone told me “you’re so different”, I had this weird yet familiar fear that as soon as I showed vulnerability or break out of the norm, you’d devalue me like all the other women out there you’ve dismissed as “the same”. But then I thought, apa makna kata “perempuan lain” dalam kalimat “kamu beda dari perempuan lain” ataupun dalam kalimat “kamu sama aja kaya perempuan lain” sehingga itu jadi pujian ataupun celaan/hinaan? Kalau kamu percaya bahwa disebut “kamu tuh sama aja kaya perempuan lain” adalah sebuah hinaan, berarti secara tidak langsung kamu juga mengiyakan penilaian buruk laki-laki tentang wanita. Ladies and gentlement ini udah tahun 2017, women should have each other’s back instead of compete with one another just for the sake of men’s approval. Oh god, we’re great with or without anyone’s approval, let alone men.

All I know to be true is that other women are some of the bravest, most inspiring, amazing, and stunning people I know, and I want to be like them. Don’t complent me by demeaning other woman, and I don’t mind to be like other women. I’m happy and even very proud of that. I’m proud of whatever makes me, me. Even if means I’m not different from other woman. I’m proud of how full of anxiety, insecurity, awkward, loud, ugly, beautiful, funny, boring, smart, confident, open-minded, sok polos, shy, depressed, multi-dimensional, and just-like-other-women I am.

Virginity is A Sexist and Heteronormative Concept. Should We Let It Determine One’s Value?

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In our society, it seems more acceptable for a man to sleep around with different partner than when a woman does the same thing. In that situation, virginity seems to hold a considerably heavier burden for women than it does for men. It’s often used to control women’s sexuality and determine their character, value, or morality. Why is a woman considered immoral, impure, and dirty because she has sex? Does penis/vagina have dirty making power and character destroyer that I’m unaware of? Newsflash; it doesn’t. You can be a virgin with terrible character. You can have all the sex you want with awesome character. Having sex or not having sex doesn’t determine your character as a human being.

As a woman, I was told that I had a responsibility to remain virgin and pure for my future husband. I understand the whole virgin and pure thing because pure is supposed to mean untouched. But does that mean you’re not pure if you’ve kissed someone? Because that’s ridiculous.

Virginity doesn’t define your level of pureness because it’s a totally made up thing that is used to make women feel like they’re dirty or bad for having sex. While on the other hand it’s entirely possible that my future husband wouldn’t remain pure for me. I wouldn’t know it either except he told me about it. There is no physical difference I can tell between a man who has lost his virginity and a man who hasn’t.

If a woman lost their virginity to someone who she wasn’t married to, she is considered as impure, dirty, or something along that line while men didn’t face the same cultural consequences if they weren’t virgins when they got married. This is what is called the sexual double standard. Should virginity be kept only by woman? The sexism of virginity is real here and yet we still spend our days holding to that concept.

According to the dictionary, virginity means “the state of never having had sexual intercourse”. That definition leads me to another question because sexual intercourse refers to penetrative sex or penis-in-vagina sex. It’s assumed that unless you’ve had a penis in your vagina, or put your penis into a vagina, then you haven’t really had sex. That definition of losing virginity can only apply primarily to heterosexual relationships. How about my LGBTQ friends? Are they considered as virgin for the rest of their lives just because they never had penis-in-vagina sex? This concept of virginity erases their sexual experiences by continuing to perpetuate the idea that the only real sex must be penetrative sex. Different people define sex differently. So this one definition we have about virginity doesn’t even work.

Another definition of virginity I’ve heard a lot is related to the integrity of the hymen of a woman. This definition is even worse and very gendered. What about a lesbian who tore her hymen after playing with sex toys? What about trans male and trans female? Well, a lot of people will say that to know a woman’s virginity can be done by checking a woman’s hymen is broken or not. Wow is it really as simple as THAT? I doubt that. A hymen can be broken without any kind of sexual intercourse. Many women don’t experience bleeding or pain during their first sexual act. Some women also were born without hymen. Not all hymens tear during penetrative sex. We all have been sold to this idea of torn membrane and blood on sheets as some kind of sign to determine woman’s virginity.

A broken hymen does not equal loss of virginity. And the loss of virginity does not equal loss of dignity and virtue. But that would be a different story if you’re a kind of person who choose to value someone based on their sex life rather than seeing someone entirely as a person that they are. In that case, virginity and their previous sex life must be a legit big deal for you. I do admit that sex life plays an important role in life but it’s not a tool to judge someone. I don’t want to miss out something amazing that someone offers just because I focus on their past decisions.  I’ve never been a person who sees someone, woman or man, who has had sex as a bad person who do bad things (as long as they’re not a rapist or sexual predator, of course). I see them as someone who have just shared the most intimate experience humans can have.

I still remember that time when my friend told me something related to her sex life and how she asked me first whether or not I’d hate her after knowing her story. I said I’d not, why should I? After that, I knew that she was afraid that people would judge her decisions. It kinda makes me sad how a grown up woman who is completely aware of the consequences of what she’s doing has to feel worry about the judgement she might receive from society, while man doesn’t have to feel worry about it. Damn you double standard in sex! If you want to see it from your religion point of view, it’s not fair either. Everybody makes sin everywhere everyday and why the hell they choose to use virginity and someone’s sex life as a weapon against someone, especially a woman? Why do you think that one sin is more forgivable than another? Why do you think that making out is more acceptable to be done than making love? Is it because making out seems more safe to do and less intimate? If it is, then why you’re still afraid if you get caught by your parents? In fact, making out to some people is just as intimate as making love.

I’ve ever asked some of my  female and male friends the same question related to virginity, that is “what if your partner has had sex before, would you still accept them?”. The answers I got was vary but hold the same point. They said they would accept their partner regardless of their past experience about sex. They would appreciate whatever their reasons behind that decisions. They’re not 100% pure so they’re in no position to judge someone who is not pure either. Yeah, something like that, more or less. Well, I’m saying this not because I want to -passive aggresive- manipulate and provoke people to see things the same way my friends and I do. Not at all.

Your virginity is nobody’s business but yours. It has nothing to do with your value. Treating people differently based on their past decisions would deeply hurt feelings because of the very personal nature of these decisions. Your decision should be yours alone, rather than your peers. Having sex should be a choice because you like someone and wants to have sex with them. If someone chooses to not have sex for their own personal reasons, that’s fine and we shouldn’t shame or judge them. If you want to wait to have sex until marriage make sure it’s because you want to. It’s your body. It belongs to you. Whatever your choice is, it does not make you any less of a human, or make you untrustworthy. You’re all as capable as any human being. 


p.s: I’m not trying to provoke anyone here to do anything. I’m just giving my perspective, as a woman, about virginity. Remember your decision should be yours alone. 😉 cheers!