Herself.com brings the female body back to reality

Photo Credit: Rachelle Tjahyana

Australian actress Caitlin Stasey recently released images of a conversation she had with a popular magazine’s editor who had refused to feature her when she turned down a nude photo-shoot.

According to Stasey, the editor of Good Weekend magazine assumed that because Stasey had appeared nude online before, she would automatically be willing to appear that way once again, without asking her.

Stasey co-created and administers the online community at herself.com, a space where women share their stories regarding their sexuality and feminist views, while appearing semi or fully nude in a completely non-sexualized manner. Those featured on the website come from across the globe, with varying body shapes, views, and sexualities.

She herself appeared in the first interview on the website, speaking on topics ranging from her pro-choice beliefs, polyamory, and her views on femininity and feminism. Baring her entire body, she took the power back from the over-sexualized media she had grown accustomed to as an actress.

In her own interview on herself.com, Stasey describes women within her terms: “a group of people of varying sexualities, ethnicities, body parts, and mentalities forging ahead despite the push back of centuries of oppression. Women are fucking durable and powerful.”

When approached by Good Weekend to do a feature about her recently launched website, Stasey enthusiastically agreed. However, she asked them to change the photo shoot when she realized that they had mistakenly assumed she would pose nude. Though nudity is the basis of her website, it is not to sell magazines. No profit is made from women sharing their stories and bodies on their own terms, and she did not agree to be sexualized for profit.

Consent knows no bounds and crosses all boundaries of decency.

Upon hearing Stasey wouldn’t do the shoot as they had assumed, they came up with excuses to postpone it, and eventually cancelled it completely. It was clear to Stasey the reasoning behind it, despite the editor denying that this is why the story was cancelled.

The editor made the assumption regarding consent that many do — that if a woman says “yes” once, she is expected to in all other situations. Consent is a global issue, no matter the situation or the culture. It knows no bounds, and crosses all boundaries of decency.

The issue of consent is ever-present within our hyper-sexualized media, the very same thing the website is trying to combat by showing non-sexualized bodies that do not exist solely for the misogynistic male gaze.

The idea of women bearing all online has become ingrained within our society, often for the wrong reasons. Sexuality is a common currency within the media, and consent is rarely considered to be appealing or empowering.

With sites like herself.com and people like Caitlin Stasey, women are finally getting the chance to choose for themselves how their bodies are being viewed, solely on their own terms.