Waists were cinched with whale bone corsets, full skirts concealed legs and ankles, hats and veils on heads, gloves over narrow fingers, parasols between skin and sun. To expose a woman's body was to disgrace her. A woman's body was treated with shame.
Now women's bodies are hidden like this:
The fat on this girl's legs has been hidden, her true skin tone obscured, corrected, her waistline digitally cinched ever tighter, her legs narrowed, because Jessica Alba was not beautiful enough.
So now women try to hide their own bodies:
They hide their bodies by eating less, until their muscles atrophy and their internal organs stop functioning. They hide their bodies with Spanx, with cosmetics, with collagen injections and laser treatments, with surgery.
But some women refuse to hide their bodies. Sometimes they are ridiculed for it:
The artist HALEY MORRIS-CAFIERO
In some places, the consequences are worse:
We are brave.
We are aging naturally, we are eating healthy food and exercising for our health, not our appearance. We are raising our daughters to be cunning, strong, and fearless. No one takes our picture and puts it on a billboard, but we are your doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, musicians, artists, and writers. We are mothers.
We know what true beauty is.
True beauty does not hide itself. True beauty is not afraid. True beauty is timeless.
We don't learn the lessons they try to teach us. We refuse to hide behind their idolatry. We find our own idols.
MAYA ANGELOU, Pulitzer Prize winning poet
SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR, first woman US Supreme Court Justice
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, the first US Secretary of State
Whoever you are holding the camera, the scalpel, the needle, the laser, the stone, we do not need you to see us as beautiful.
We don't need you at all.