The internet was abuzz two days ago over the fake nude photos of actresses Maris Racal and Sue Ramirez. The Photoshopped image led both Maris and Sue to take to their personal social media accounts to voice out their outrage and disgust over the anonymous netizen who manipulated their harmless poolside pic and circulated it online.
Sadly, Maris and Sue aren’t the only celebrities to fall victim to the shockingly rampant “fake nude photo” modus operandi online. Just last year, Miss Universe Catriona Gray filed a case against a malicious party for circulating fake nude photos of her, while Maine Mendoza did the same a few weeks ago over a fake sex scandal. Circulating a nude photo without a person's consent is bad enough, but maliciously editing an innocent photo or video to sexualize the woman in it, and then passing it around is a whole other level of deplorable and even criminal behavior.
A common argument of many is that there are women who are simply “asking for it,” because of their hubadera sense of style or bikini-clad beach pics. Model and actress Emily Ratajkowski is popularly known for her body-baring OOTDs—she even posted a naked mirror selfie to flaunt her baby bump—and has had her fair share of “slut-shaming” comments and judgements. Then there's Julia Barretto’s infamous “no-bra OOTD” that she took while in quarantine at home. In my opinion, no woman in her right mind would prefer to wear a bra if she's simply lounging around in her sweats, but apparently this all-too-real outfit pic of Julia still garnered a slew of overtly sexual comments, too.
“Itigil na ang pambabababoy ng katawan ng mga babae. Pagaari namin 'to,” Maris writes on Twitter—and that’s exactly the point. The problem isn’t with women showing too much skin, but the unwarranted and nonconsensual distribution or alteration of photos of videos that takes away the ownership of the female body from itself—be that for the male gaze or otherwise. Over-sexualization happens when a harmless photo becomes an object of desire.
In an interview with Vanity Fair after her traumatizing leaked photo scandal, Jennifer Lawrence explains that the photos themselves weren’t the problem, but the fact that they were shared and shown to people they weren’t intended for. The actress admitted that she became wary of doing sex scenes or even exposing her naked body on film afterwards. But in her movie Red Sparrow, one of her projects after the issue, J. Law proudly showed off her figure on her own terms. She described it as an act of claiming her body after it unexpectedly became public domain.
This is why the “Free the Nipple Movement” made such a huge impact on Instagram, a platform where photos communicate more than words. So what if a woman chooses to show her under boob, butt cheek, or more? That’s her choice, our choice, and we grant the internet permission to view it. Censorship shouldn't be done to silence a girl's choice of clothes and creative self-expression. Sure, it's a way to protect women from the dark web of creeps and real-life "manyaks" (to quote Sue), but shouldn't it be more about changing and correcting the wrong behavior rather than tolerating it? Why ask the victim to change instead of condemning the criminal?
When a girl posts sexy bikini or lingerie-clad pics (or lack thereof) on social media, she is obviously in control. There’s that sense of confidence and self-expression. Much like KC Concepcion and her body-positive OOTDs. Yet some netizens still find time to leave negative and unsolicited comments about her weight or body shape, despite KC looking glowing and proud of her curves. At the end of the day, it’s not your body, so why care so much?
If there’s one thing we should all take away from Maris and Sue’s defiant and outspoken responses to their edited photo, it’s that women shouldn’t be scared to stand up for themselves and vehemently want to catch who’s at fault. Likewise, we as netizens should never tolerate the viewing and sharing of such non-consensual sexualized images—fake or real—that obviously objectify women. It’s pretty simple actually. When a girl wants to show and tell, admire them for it. No permission? Then keep your hands, mouse, and share buttons to yourself.