Friday, July 15, 2016

When The Insides and the Outsides Don't Match

I've said some really horrible shit in my life. Sometimes on accident (the incident where I was yelling "Gays Bad! Hitler Good!" outside the IU student union during a conversation to my friends comes to mind. The context makes it all right, but it's not nearly as interesting to write about.), and sometimes on purpose, most of which I am not proud of no matter how right it seemed in the moment. But you can't take it back.

That's also true for social media. And a lesson that Dani Mathers is learning a little late in life. 

She's 25. Absolutely beautiful. And did something stupid. . . .and illegal. 

For some backstory, Dani Mathers was the 2015 Playmate of the Year for Playboy. She lives in LA and does LA things. One of those things includes working out at LA Fitness, which unlike Palm Beach Tan is actually in the geography where it's named. She worked out, took a picture of another gym patron getting into the shower naked, posted it to Snapchat and wrote "If  can't unsee this, then you can't either" on the photo. 

There's a lot that's wrong with this scenario. Mathers claims that she thought the Snap was private because she's new to Snapchat, She also said in a video statement on social media: "I have chosen to do what I do for a living because I love the female body and I know that body shaming is wrong and that's not what I'm about, that's not the type of person that I am."

I'm gonna start first with the big issue of this: While Mathers is certainly welcome to pose for all the naked pics that she wants to and get paid handsomely or moderately or not at all to do so, she has chosen to do that. The woman in the photo has not. You can't take photos of someone naked without their consent, especially on private property. It's not legal, and frankly I think Mathers should face the consequences of that. It she were a man taking photos of a woman in a steam room or something similar, the outrage would and should be the same. And so should the consequences. 

I'm not going to delve into the backlash about a pretty person making fun of what she deems to be a not pretty person because that's too easy. It's too easy to tap into the fervor of that and frankly everyone else is doing a good enough job at their righteous indignation on that front.

However, here's the lesson: Social media (and inherently the Internet) allows people to be who they are. It provides a window to be real or to perfectly stage your life for others. You can share for the world your struggle with anxiety and depression or your smoothie recipe that includes moondust. What you put out there is the YOU that others see. It's not the YOU that you might actually be. ("Perception is reality"--which is both true and bullshit at the same time because my perception is my reality but not necessarily reality as a whole, but that's a debate for another day.) 

It's frankly your choice. Even when you "accidentally post" something, you are revealing who you are. To claim that you're not the type of person to body shame as an explanation for your body shaming social media post is a lie. As hard as it is to admit sometimes when you think people have you all wrong, it's also a wake up call. It has been for me at times. And it's confusing and it sucks, but it's also necessary. 

Sometimes the insides and the outsides don't match. 


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