Today I came across an article about a Montana state legislator who proposed a bill to expand the states indecent exposure law to prohibit any clothing that simulated or revealed the buttocks, pelvic area etc- including yoga pants. It’s terrible enough to want to ban such a flattering and comfortable item of clothing, but what is most disturbing is what this suggestion says about a societal desire to police peoples bodies, especially women's.
Decency laws are justified by the idea that we are protecting the public from seeing inappropriate parts of our bodies, but we have to remember that these ideals of decency are 100% socially constructed.
Nipples on men and women look remarkably similar, yet men can expose their nipples without second glance while in most places it is illegal for women to do the same. ILLEGAL!!! Female nipples are the only source of nourishment for the first year or more of our lives. It is the only time a human can fully support another with just their own body and it is a miraculous thing. To a baby, a nipple is the source of life. To anyone else it signifies something inappropriate, explicit, obscene and even unlawful.
I wonder what exactly we are protecting people from and why we feel the need to hide our bodies even though we all have them and we all have seen other bodies hundreds of times. EVERYBODY has a butt and nipples yet we are expected to hide them like they are a shameful secret. If we aren’t even comfortable looking at bodies, how can we learn to love bodies in all shapes and sizes. How can we learn the intricacies of keeping ourselves healthy. How can we expect people to be safe and smart sexually.
Our bodies are more than arms, legs, chests, thighs, stomachs, noses, breasts, butts, nipples. Our bodies are worth more than judgments of individual body parts. If we allow ourselves to be open and comfortable with the body, norms of decency will fall into place naturally. If female nipples aren’t taboo, then they will not offend people the way they do now. Our norms around nudity should not make anyone feel there is something inherently wrong with their body, because this is much more hurtful that seeing a nipple could ever be.
Never let anyone tell you your body is anything to hide or be ashamed of. Expose your body as you see fit. Allow your body to be a full expression of who you are, the most beautiful work of art, created by nature to allow you to soak up this world.