Victoria's Secret Model slams trolls who criticised her racy photo
Empowerment takes many different forms. Some people might express their empowerment through music, or art, or writing. Some people might express their empowerment through their work and their career or the actual results of their hard labour. As social media has given us all a platform to express ourselves, many people are turning to body positivity and self-love as a form of empowerment, and photography and selfies can often be a form of political/social emancipation.
However, the most divisive of these photos is the nude selfie. To some people, nude portraits are part and parcel of a healthy appreciation of the human form. To others, they're nothing but crass exhibitionism dressed up as art. This week, a Victoria's Secret model provoked controversy and reignited the debate over nude selfies, after she uploaded a censored snap of herself to Instagram, which led to certain prudish Instagram users criticising her on grounds of taste.
In honour of International Women's Day, model Shanina Shaik uploaded a topless picture of herself in the outdoors, with her nipples blurred out. She captioned the picture: "Here's to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them. #internationalwomensday." However, within hours of the picture hitting social media, a number of people took to the comments to express their objection to the image in question.
For instance, an Instagram user with the handle Leon Ortega wrote: "Nothing like taking advantage of women's day to promote yourself. Shame on you," while someone else with the handle green_hoes17 wrote: "Only women who look like you tho right? Because when you model for Victoria’s Secret you support the idea that they don’t want the trans and fat girls to feel good about themselves. [sic]" Finally, someone with the handle dwarthy added: "If you think female empowerment means taking your clothes off to bear a body everyday women are brainwashed and pressured into achieving, you're part of the problem."
However, other commenters were a bit more supportive of Shanina's gesture. For example, Instagram user David Weeks wrote: "I love your post and the energy it shows. I think it's a great way to express the strength and power of a woman. AMAZING! [sic]" Meanwhile, someone with the handle robinland14 chimed in: "Hmmm, does she not have the right to express herself in the fashion of her choosing? Naked equates freedom."
However, Shanina later replied to her trolls with a great clapback, writing: "This is simply capturing a beautiful image of a raw woman’s body. Where is stripping? And shouldn’t we uplift women on international women’s day?"
So is she in the right, or not? The debate will rage on, but it is her body. Can't she do what she likes with it?