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7 reasons we still need to tackle taboos around women's bodies

7 reasons we still need to tackle taboos around women's bodies

1. Women bleed, get over it

Image from Rupi Kaur

Despite periods being a common fixture of half the population's lives, menstruation has steadfastly remained a topic that is strictly off-limits. We don't want to hear about them, we don't want to speak about them, and we definitely don't want to see them! Or so society would have us think. Who can forget the backlash that poet Rupi Kaur's period pic garnered in 2015? We need to push back against this silencing of the uterus, to quote the woman herself, “Their patriarchy is leaking. Their misogyny is leaking. We will not be censored.”

2. We are hair to stay 

Image from Afropunk

Body hair remains a political point of contention when it comes to women's bodies, even our hair-removal ads feature already hairless limbs. We're taught that beauty is pain, and there's no room for hairy legs, pits or let alone a bush in this beautiful world. However, the tide is turning – many women are resisting the razor and talking about it. This conversation is helping to normalize the natural look, with celebs such as Gwyneth Paltrow and others speaking out about their body hair – even leading to the creation of a hashtag #bringbackthebush.

3. Birth control, birthright

Last year brought in the Trump Era, with its increasing threats to women's access to birth control. The US Senate has since pursued funding cuts to Planned Parenthood, the Affordable Care Act, and other women's health services. These medical and political miracles have revolutionized women's everyday lives and freedoms – since the development of the Pill in the 1960s – and must be protected at all costs.

4. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

A practice which is shockingly still alive today, Female Genital Mutilation involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (WHO). It is also sometimes referred to as female genital cutting or female circumcision. There are no health benefits to FGM and it is recognized internationally as a human rights violation. The practice is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women's sexuality, and ideas about purity, modesty, and beauty. It is usually initiated and carried out by women, who see it as a source of honor.

5. Slut-shaming

Slut-shaming is rife in the age of the Internet, with social media giving rise to new spaces and platforms upon which women and their bodies can be scrutinized and shamed. In the most basic sense, Slut-shaming is the practice of criticizing women and girls who are perceived to violate expectations of behavior and appearance regarding issues related to sexuality. For example, dressing in “sexually provocative” ways, having sex, or even being victim blamed for suffering a sexual assault.

6. Positive bodies

Image from NY Daily News

Another iteration of the S-word comes into how women's bodies are policed for their varying sizes, colors, shapes, and abilities. Body shaming can be overt, as well as implied, with celebrities being lauded and criticised in everyday media and women facing pressures to conform to ideal beauty standards on a daily basis. Body positivity is an important backlash against these pressures, with more women like Gabourey Sidibe standing up for themselves and others. Sidibe hit back against the haters with the following epic comeback, “To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I mos def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night. #JK."

7. Because it's 2018, and we're over it!


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Illustration by Helena Cardow