“Nudity empowers some women, modesty empowers others. It is not our place to say which.” ~ Author Unknown
Kim Kardashian and her skin are in the news again, this time for posting a “throwback” nude selfie in which we see everything but the bathroom sink.
So, let’s normalize this: It’s a body. We all have one, and there is nothing inherently “wrong” with naked flesh. Naked is how we came into this world. And, we all have choices to make about how to express and represent our own bodies—choices that really ought to be ours and ours alone.
So what is the real reason we are all so concerned with telling Kim what she should and shouldn’t do with hers?
People are concerned that it is shallow of a woman to focus solely on her external appearance, and yet every famous (almost unfailingly male) artist since forever has portrayed the nude female body as his most treasured subject. Naked and splayed out Aphrodites, Mary Magdalenes, and Ophelias populate the entirety of art history, all purportedly in the interest of experiencing the Divine through the female form. And don’t even get me started about the (mis)use of women’s bodies in advertising and other hierarchical forms of power.
So let me get this straight: It’s deep, and it’s sublime, and it’s spiritual, and it’s high art, when a male artist portrays a naked woman, but when a woman takes a photo of herself that very same female form becomes dangerous, slutty, and narcissistic? And, when there is a basically nude ad of a model selling a product, that is somehow more acceptable than a woman with a phone in her hand admiring her own beauty?
I call bullsh*t.
I feel that our obsession with telling Kim not to look in the mirror and admire herself so damn much only reveals our own puritanical discomfort that we feel with regards to our own bodies, which means we must limit another’s freedom at all costs. Because honestly, if we felt truly free, would we have any need whatsoever to judge what another woman chooses to do with her body? Every time a woman snarks at her (or any other woman) for being “narcissistic” and “vain” because she dared to find herself beautiful, we reiterate an age old wound of woman pitted against woman, undermining the sovereign authority that each woman is really entitled to have over her own being.
As someone who grounds herself in a very ancient femininity, I see something much deeper in the controversy around Kim K’s selfie than a pop celebrity flaunting her assets. I cannot help but see layers upon layers of archeology: a fertility goddess thousands of years old, being fought over, burned and desecrated by a hundred different forces seeking control of her power at all costs. I see the many malevolent forces that sought to colonize her body in a thousand insidious ways so that she would forget the true power that resided within her.
I see her co-opted and nip-tucked into tidy forms that suited those who wanted to use her—a Mother Mary devoid of sexuality on one hand, and an MK Ultra programmed CIA “sex kitten” who performs sexually on command on the other.
And I see the mad frenzy of jealousy, spite and uproar that ensues when she dares once again to take authority of her body and selfhood into her own hands, literally.
The painful and deep question that I see being asked by Kim’s revealed form and the bizarre overreaction of her peers and the American public in general is this:
What would it take for the female body to truly be her own? Who and what has colonized and desecrated the Goddess’ Temple that is this female flesh? What has overtaken it by force, and what has been allowed to remain in residence there?
When I look in the mirror and nitpick my “flaws” til I have cut my very soul to ribbons, who does that serve?
When I visit the doctor and inject my face with Botox, who does that serve?
When I suck in my belly to diminish my form, who does that serve?
When I hide my flesh from the world, who does that serve?
When I display my flesh for the world, who does that serve?
Who is my sexuality for? Is it a perversion to serve the idols of approval and attention and titillation or is it a natural expression of my body, pleasure and sensuality, on its own terms?
Who all has stakes in the body in which I find myself, and what would it take to make it truly free and truly mine, again or for the very first time?
And that is something none of us can answer on behalf of Kim Kardashian or anyone else, but only on behalf of ourselves.
If every woman would but take the deep journey within to find those answers in herself, there would be absolutely no need to judge another woman’s expression, ever again.
Personally, as a woman coming ever deeper into her own power, I’m really deep in this lesson right now. It has been amazing to witness all the wires and chains and puppet strings running through my womb space, around my hips and breasts: one wire to make me throw out a hip to make a figure 8 curve for the approval of another’s gaze, another to make me hunch my shoulders when I need to shrink and diminish so as not to be “too much.” Energetic hooks and clamps placed on my sex organs so that my pleasure cannot be my own. All of them, a lie to separate me from myself.
I say, enough! I will not be a hook or clamp in the being you are, and I won’t let you do that to me either.
So if a woman wants to look at her own reflection and see the most beautiful, luscious, sexiest creation on God’s Earth looking back at her, she is learning to love herself again. On her own terms. And it is no one’s place to try and stop that.
People the body is facile and shallow, but a woman’s body is the deepest place there is.
Once upon a time women knew this, and we stood at the center of the Temple, adorned beautifully for our own pleasure, and our bodies were portals to Heaven. It was known and understood, and it is time for this again.
So before we judge another, let us remember the potency of these bodies we find ourselves in—as centers of power—and what it means to purify and free, honor and revere them, and to take up full residence in them again as High Priestesses of the Temple that they have always been.
Each and every woman can only do this for herself, and we must support each other in sisterhood.
As for mine: I have lit the Temple lamps, and they will not be extinguished again.
Author: Sara Sophia Eisenman
Editor: Travis May