Sometimes I think it’d be easier to show my ass. I mean my entire meaty ass that’s filled with fat craters and stretch marks. Like the whole thing sitting up on a sink like I see the other gals doing. You know those multiple photos on a girl’s Instagram page as she takes a half body selfie in the mirror with her ass cheeks out. Do you know how much I’d save on wardrobe??? How much time I’d save locating photographers and setting up shoots? To live the life of an IG model who posts semi-nudes and has followers stacked on followers and doesn’t have to worry about engagement because, hello! Sex sells. Bare skin sells. And, oh, I forgot to add, this only works for certain body types. Not all bodies get to show and be empowered by semi-nudity. Only the right kind of bodies get that right. The right kind of thin. And the right kind of thicc or curvy.
I was scrolling down my timeline yesterday and saw a post that read: nudity empowers some and modesty empowers others. Which I totally agree with and this is not a “bash people who are empowered by showing their bodies on the internet” post so if you know me or have read my work or follow the folks that I support and even try to place that in this equation, you can go royally fuck yourself.
What I am shedding light on is the fact that many of us feel that we should show more body (for the wrong reasons) just to stay relevant or get validation or receive more likes.
And, we see this not only with influencers but adolescents as well. I feel like now a lot of girls (and boys) have this mentality that the sexier the better. The barer the skin the prettier. The bigger the butt the worthier.
Modesty equals prudishness. It equals being confined to one stereotype. It equals less popular. The inability to be sexy, feel sexy, be fierce.
Because I grew up Muslim, we weren’t taught to be sexy. Sexy was forbidden. There was no need for a Muslim girl to feel or be sexy at all. The extreme end of modesty was humble, colorless, loose clothes, bare face. The idea that you shouldn’t want or feel the need to be seen. Lower your gaze. Be bashful.
And after hearing stories of other cultures and religions having the same experience as above, it’s as if you can be only one or the other. There is no in-between. What’s too sexy and what’s not sexy enough look like? What’s true body empowerment versus an attention seeker who just wants to be validated for her body and nothing else?
I feel like I’m in a weird place as someone who lives so openly on the net. And, believe me, I am not the most modestly dressed Muslim you’ll see, but I’m also not the most nude either.
One day, I was at an indoor spa and I had on a bathing suit in the water. It wasn’t a bikini top, but it was more like a sleeved swim top and the top part of my chest was out. I don’t remember if I had my hijab on or not, but I made a boomerang and a few Muslims went hard on me. Scolding me for showing my body. It’s this idea that you are or you aren’t. There is no in-between. This ideology that many of us carry is problematic in so many ways. It alienates people. It forces them to be someone they aren’t just to please the masses, please their communities. When truly, it’s not who they want to be.
I don’t want to feel pressured to show my ass for likes. But I appreciate others who show their asses for a cause or because they want to be free or want to show others that there is confidence in being okay with your body. I don’t want to feel pressured to cover my body or hair either. To pretend to be fake modest like I had when I was married or when I was more involved with the Muslim community. When I wanted to fit in to their standards of how a Muslim should look.
I’d like to wear what makes me comfortable, whether I get validation or likes or not. I’d like to be liked for me. I’d like to be accepted for me. Whether that’s fully covered or not or somewhere in between.
But, I will tell you right now that in no one is it easy to be a fat, Black model who also happens to be a semi-covered Muslim. Every time, I book a gig, I am all types of shocked. And all kinds of grateful because I can’t do and wear what the other models do and wear. So, it limits me. But, when I do step up, I am serving looks so hard that I want to make them forget that they have a Muslim girl on set. I am so fierce that all they see is a girl that will kill that shot every single time. So, that other girls (and boys) who are behind me or standing beside me have a chance to walk in that door and wear their culture or religion proudly in that campaign or on that panel.