As anyone who has at one point been a young woman in our culture can attest: People always have a lot of things to say — about our bodies, how we choose to clothe them and how we move through the world. For young people in the spotlight, this entitlement to unsolicitedly comment on their bodies (and to shame them for displaying any part of their sexuality) can be even worse — since it’s not just aunts and mom’s friends running their mouths but an audience of hundreds of thousands of people.
For tennis star and two-time Grand Slam champion) Naomi Osaka, it was time to remind these misguided people (well-meaning as they may potentially be) to mind their business and respect her boundaries.
I just wanna say it’s creeping me out how many people are commenting @ me to maintain my “innocent image” and “don’t try to be someone your not”. You don’t know me, I’m 22, I wear swimsuits to the pool. Why do you feel like you can comment on what I can wear?
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) July 26, 2020
Osaka, who recently posted a few summer bikini photos on Instagram, said on Twitter that she began receiving comments telling her to “maintain her innocent image” and that somehow posting perfectly harmless photos (the kind you’d see any 22 year old post in the summer) was damaging to her reputation or her fans.
“I just wanna say it’s creeping me out how many people are commenting @ me to maintain my ‘innocent image’ and ‘don’t try to be someone your not,’ ” she wrote just a few days after posting the instagram photos. “You don’t know me. I’m 22, I wear swimsuits to the pool. Why do you feel like you can comment on what I can wear?”
Around these parts it’s no secret that we think it’s poor form to comment on other people’s bodies. If we want to make a world where our kids can grow up to check the inherited body baggage (the shame, the self-loathing, all of it) at the door and truly feel at home in their skin, it’s important to recognize that we each have the right to own our own bodies and pilot our own ships. So a crowd of randos deciding they are entitled to give running critical commentary to how Osaka (a champion athlete) pilots her body? Yeah, that is creepy.
“It feels weird when people say that I am a role model,” Osaka told People in a recent interview, “because I feel like I’m still figuring out life myself but if someone’s outlook changes for the better because of something I’ve said or done, I can’t help but feel proud.” Keep making yourself (and us) proud, Naomi! <
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