Saturday, March 28, 2015

Boobs, Instagram, and Stigmas

It's not often that I speak up about things like this, because I'm all for people doing and saying whatever they want and not having to be called out for every little thing. But last night while doing this makeup and shooting it, I realized some things about myself that I hadn't before. And there are some things I want to share.

First, this look was inspired by the song Solitaire by Marina and the Diamonds. The lyrics are a little melancholy, with a hint of vindictiveness, but ultimately, the message they send to me is empowering. To me, this song is about how it feels to be ignored by a lover, feeling that passive rejection and isolating yourself, but finding in your solitude that your worth and power are inherent and unconditional. It's about realizing that only you can hold you back, and if you realize your own power and step into it, anything is possible.

When I do my makeup and take photos of it to post online, it's like a creative project each time. It starts with a vision, and I try to create that vision with what I have. My vision for this was a bombshell look, with something that alluded to tear having been shed (the blue glitter), but a powerful, slightly vindictive expression that said,

"You made me question my worth, but I've risen above your judgement."

So, what am I speaking up about exactly?

Why was I embarrassed to post this?
The photo on the left is exactly what I had envisioned for this idea/makeup look, and I was so excited to see it come to life. But when I imagined myself posting this on instagram or facebook, I found myself being nervous that I would get backlash for wearing a strappy bra, with contoured boobs, and basically being very obviously and overtly sexy. I noticed that I was afraid to present myself like that because I was afraid people would think I was using my body just to get attention, or that if I respected myself, it would just be about the art/makeup, and I wouldn't have to exploit my body.

That's when it hit me. This look was everything I wanted it to be, boobs and all. Why was I afraid it might damage my credibility?

Where did I get the idea that somehow letting my boobs be seen makes me less of an artist, or make the piece less creative? Why was I ashamed and embarrassed to share this work that turned out just like I had hoped?

I've been on reddit the past few days, and remembered there was a circlejerk subreddit for /r/makeupaddiction. I understand that circlejerk subreddits are there for people to satirize certain subs, and I think that's perfectly fine. Much of the stuff on there is hilarious, but much of it personally makes fun of artists I know, basically taking it a step further and implying that they're bad artists or bad people for certain reasons. I know part of the personalized posts about these artists are based on the obsession some users garner FOR these artists, but either way, it really sheds light on something.

If someone gets successful enough, there will be a group of people in love with their work, and a group of people who try constantly to cut them down, using anything they can as ammunition.

I thought specifically of Ssssamanthaa. I remember her start on reddit, and she was WILDLY popular, and gained traction and success really quickly with her beauty and skill as a makeup artist. She soon took off on instagram and youtube, and some people on /r/makeupaddiction started implying that the only reason she was on the front page or was well liked at all was because she was "pretty", and people upvote pretty girls. The end.

Now, I see a lot of posts on reddit making fun of photos that are supposedly of a "lip swatch", that is mostly cleavage. Samantha often includes her boobs in photos, aka doesn't crop them out when she posts photos of her makeup. It's obvious who these posts are directed at.

It's clear that Samantha is comfortable in her own skin, loves herself and her body, so why wouldn't she share that? And why is she sometimes shamed for it? I've seen her called a sell out, attention seeker, and worse, implying that she purposely posts "makeup" photos that are really about her boobs. Implying that a "real" artist would focus on the makeup work, and not "have to flaunt" her body.

I realized that I didn't want to be the focus of comments like that, and I am OFTEN careful that I don't show too much in makeup photos. And if I do, I'm nervous about backlash. But here's the thing.

If you love and respect your body, and are comfortable in it, and it IS a part of your overall creative vision you're presenting, how does that take value away from what you post? 

It doesn't.

Even if it's not a part of the creative vision you're presenting and you're just really cool with your body, it STILL doesn't.

No one can judge whether or not Sam considers her entire body, including her boobs, part of her creative vision, or just what she chooses to share with the world as her personal embodiment of beauty. It's ignorant and disrespectful to assume those kinds of things. I personally admire her work, and particularly who she is as a person. I doubt she's just seeking attention and using her body get something.

So, with that in mind, I decided that I was going to stop inadvertently supporting the notion that if a woman posts photos that include cleavage/boobs, she's an attention seeking bimbo who doesn't deserve respect as a creative human.

That's the photo I posted on instagram. I immediately starting losing followers. Luckily, I don't do instagram stuff to get as many followers as possible, I do it to share with anyone who appreciates my fun little creative projects. It's impossible to know if people unfollowed because of my boobs being so obviously and purposely a part of this, or if they didn't like the makeup, or whatever, but I couldn't help but think of the reddit community and their comments and general attitude toward boobs in photos of makeup... and everything that implied.

But I'm here to say that if you, like me, are inadvertently contributing to this idea that boobs cancel out creative value, or that a woman proudly showing her boobs means she's not respectable, or that you need to cover up so people don't "get the wrong idea", now is a great time to STOP contributing.

If we truly want to empower women and ALL people, we must be comfortable in our own skin, and stop judging others who are comfortable and are presenting themselves accordingly. We have to stop viewing women's bodies as objects. We have to stop assuming that women who don't hide their boobs are USING their bodies to get something. 

Through this, I realized that I have been ashamed of my own body. Years ago I struggled with disordered eating, and when I finally started eating again, I gained a lot of weight and had breasts for the first time in my life. I had essentially delayed puberty with my restricted diet and overexercising, until I was age 19. I still have a hard time accepting and loving my feminine body, particularly my boobs. This experience shed light on that for me, and has reinforced in me drive to accept myself unconditionally. It's work, loving and respecting yourself. I've spent years of my life doing the opposite. These photos were empowering to me, and I wanted to share this story in hopes that it might reach someone who needed this realization as much as I did. I didn't realize how much of a hold these stigmas had on me until I took these photos.

Don't be afraid of yourself. Be who you are, openly and honestly. Love yourself unconditionally, accept yourself unconditionally, and encourage other to do the same. No matter what that means to them personally. 

I was going to quote some lyrics from the song that particularly stood out to me as I did this creative project, but I really recommend you listen to the song, to hear and understand the whole feel I was going for.

Thanks for reading, if you made it all the way through that. I hope it's valuable to some of you. Remember, the most important thing is to love and respect yourself, and love and respect others. Let's lift each other up, not cut each other down. Much love to you all.

I want to be clear, and say that I am not in any way saying all women should flaunt their boobs and bodies, or that everyone should enjoy looking at photos with boobs or cleavage. I'm simply saying that it's not ok to judge someone who does. I'm also not trying to say that the entire reddit community hates anyone, or is constantly a mean environment. I made a lot of friends on reddit a year or so ago, and learned SO much from the community. I brought it up in this post in this way because I've noticed a change in the community, and I was just conveying what was going through my head after making these photos and realizations.

Product List:

  • Nyx Color Correcting Primer (green one)
  • Ben Nye translucent setting powder
  • Mac Face and Body, equal parts N1, C1, and White (used the powder under foundation method)
  • OCC Creme Color Concentrate in John Doe
  • Nyx blush in Taupe
  • Ben Nye translucent powder
  • Makeup Geek Gel Liner
  • Red Cherry Lashes #510
  • Anastasia Dipbrow in Ebony mixed with Makeup Geek gel liner in Poison (brows)
  • Stila Stay All Day liquid lipstick in Fiery


  1. I love this post! When people were complaining about Sam and the amount of boobs she had in her posts, I felt like the hate was uncalled for. One of my friends has hugeee boobs that I am jealous about, but never hate on her. Some people call her so many names, but I feel like of course her boobs are going to stick out in whatever top she wears. I could wear the same shirt as her and it wouldn't be a problem because they're smaller. Suddenly when she wears it, the cut of the shirt is inappropriate. I feel like I'm starting to ramble now. I guess the whole point of this comment was that I loved the end result of your look. It's perfect from the makeup, the wonderful hair, and strappy bra.

  2. Love the look and love the post. I think it's important to take a stand for what you believe in, so thank you for not backing down despite (let's face it; imminent) judgment! I realized some time ago that people will keep talking smack about you, no matter what you do, so it's better if we just do what makes us happy and fulfilled. :)

  3. love this post, who cares if boobs are in the shot as long as it's still about you doing your own thing. BTW don't know if you've seen this video but this post made me thing of it, it's hilarious and all just for shits and giggles - (about how different people pose on instagram)

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  5. I have recently become a devoted follower of yours and there is no question that you are an inspiring and thoughtful! artist through and through. Your post is a post that includes your boobs because they are part of your project and because it was meaningful for you coming to terms with your body and your history. I consider myself a very liberal, nonjudgmental girl and I believe that people don't have to explain themselves when they create art. That said, Sam's posts became less about the art and more about just how gorgeous she is, the boobs and the body. As a follower, I cared about the looks and the makeup. Some people follow her for the body and some people follow her for the art. In my humble opinion, whilst she is beautiful, I wanted to see art, and it seemed that there was less of that. If the boobs were not part of the art or the look, just "happened" to be in the picture, that did change it for me. Not because she's not beautiful, but because that's just not what I followed her for. You are thoughtful in your art and your posts, and you should be proud of yourself for pushing yourself and growing in your own skin and as an artist! Looking forward to watching you expand your horizons, girl!

  6. I absolutely love everything you've said here! You've put into words so eloquently exactly how I feel on this topic. Women's bodies are theirs and theirs alone, and we shouldn't judge or speak negatively about how or how much they choose to display. Thank you for everything you said here! <3

  7. Such a wonderfully well thought out post! I couldn't agree more with your opinion of the pervasiveness of stigmas regarding a lot of women's behavior. I constantly have to remind myself that trying to control how women behave so that they fit into my vision of feminism is not feminist at all, but our culture really sinks into my subconscious in a lot of ways that I don't expect until I really stop to think about it.

    I have similar misgivings about any sexuality in my art. I create illustrations that tend to be cute and kid-friendly, but I have a lot of ideas that I'd like to explore that revolve around more "adult" themes. I have a very difficult time allowing myself to explore those ideas because I'm afraid of what people will think, but it's important to me to be true to myself in my work. It's comforting to hear that I'm not the only one who struggles with that, and the beauty of what you have created here is certainly very inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much! I think it's really important to explore these things in ourselves, and I'm glad to see so many people open to the idea.

  8. I could say a lot but I'll just sum it up with : Hell. Yeah.