Avatar Images: Editorial on the “Boob Shot”

Posted: March 8, 2012 in Editorial
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

– Editorial Piece

No matter what environment I find myself in I have never hesitated to stand up for issues I believe in. Often that very stance has gotten me into hot water as expressing your opinion will offend some people when they hold strongly to different standards or thoughts. When your opinion, as was mine in this case, involves the actions of others there is no way you can express yourself without someone picking up a torch and pitchfork. Last week I spoke in Global Chat and expressed my opinion on girls who use images that display their bodies below the chin and above the waist. I used the terms “boob shot” and “bimbo” because with a few exceptions that is the point of the picture, to display your feminine “charms” or body over and above your mind, personality or preferences.

These sorts of pictures have been on the increase since I started being an active member in online society nearly twenty years ago. Now they are so common that one takes for granted the high percentage of female cleavage that is used as an avatar image. When I made the statement that despite knowing it was wrong to do so when I saw such an image I automatically equated the individual as being a bimbo I offended a young girl who had just such an image and was on the Global Chat at the time. I had seen her talking but I had not really processed her image at the time to reflect that she was one of the very same audience members I was speaking to. Automatically many individuals jumped to her defense when she expressed hurt at my remark, and regretfully I responded with poor taste in humor stating that she was likely a “nice bimbo” but that her image still leaves such an impression. I regret my poor decision in not keeping the matter more serious and did harm I had not intended upsetting her further.

However, as I discussed with those who defended her, my stand on this is not unreasonable. I understand that such images are in part to display a person as female but anonymous. She made the very statement that her image was for that very same intent. However there are many ways to do this very same thing without showing off your cleavage. If the image is to be a picture of you personally while keeping your face hidden you can go artistic. Using image cropping to show part of your face, or using an image of your hand holding something, or perhaps even your feet crossed at the ankles resting up on a railing with some view behind them are a few of the ways I can think to display yourself while not over sexualizing your body.

Many of the people who jumped to her defense were male, in fact I believe almost every one of them had been.  The main defender who took offense to my words and tone gave a response that made me mentally cringe. His answer was that my statement was unreasonable because he had seen her face and she is very pretty. Previously she apparently had been using an image with her face displayed. I felt my heart sink at those words a little. It is alright for her to show her boobs because she has a pretty face? Why would he choose those terms to justify her image, rather than how witty he finds her, or how much he enjoys her personality. As others vocalized their thoughts, some in support of me, some against and at least one expressing an understanding for my point but objecting to my presentation. As the discussion continued I internalized the conversation around me. Nobody discussed their thoughts about her, only her image and her right to display it. But nowhere in my statement previous had I said she did not have the right to show an image of her chest. I was even an equal opportunist in the matter stating that men who do the same get equal reactions from me. This was not about women, but people, even though the majority of such images I have noticed appear to be from girls. This was not about the right to show your body but instead the reaction you get when you choose to.

As I internalized my thoughts one glaring mental statement came up in a rather jarring jaded manner. Of course the men are defending her right to show off her boobs. Why would they want free porn to go away? This is a rather judgmental thought, but it does reflect further my own glaring sentiments and elite thoughts regarding such images. I am judging a person by the image they choose and that such images are the first impression a person gains before they get to know you through words. These are the very same thoughts that cause me to warn about the dangers of such images. When people post these images online and connect them to social media they put themselves at risk specifically when it comes to future jobs and more. More and more employers will look individuals up online to see what sort of person is seeking employment. By now most of us if not all have heard examples were actions online have cost people their jobs or kept them from being hired and hurt future ambitions.

One individual asked me what right I had to protect others. Nobody had asked me to do so and I should mind my own business. But what sad world we would be living in where people cannot express concern for social issues. My words might not change anything. However, if I say nothing then there never will be a chance for them to do so. If my thoughts improve one person’s life in this world then they are of value and to not express them would be wrong in my opinion. I said then and I hold to the thought now that the actions of young girls who post such images are due to immaturity and insecurity. That someone with pride in who they are as an individual would not expose themselves to something potentially harmful in that way. As one might imagine this did not further endear myself to the young girl who brought herself to my attention by protesting my first statement. She left soon after still upset. And yet if she was someone who took pride in herself as an individual would my words have stung? I do not believe so.

Some questioned how an image on a game where nobody knows your real name could come back to bite you in real life. Perhaps nobody in the game can hurt you, though this week I saw a way which that was no longer true from members of one Safe House who have exposed themselves to potential danger and that alarmed me. The threat of exposure through poorly chosen images and links will not come from the game, but from outside the game looking in. Within the game we have the option to link to both Facebook and Twitter. Any employer or potential stalker or threat through some other means who knows of your Facebook page or Twitter account can therefore trace you to Please Stay Calm through the use of your linking to such accounts. Beyond the scope of employment online stalking is a serious threat and over the last decade I have seen examples of its affect on both men and women, even having briefly experienced the situation myself. Please Stay Calm is a location based game, and people are often free about giving information on their location to further narrow searching for them. Ultimately it pays to be very careful and to keep separate your real life and important social connections online with any frivolous game or social scene links you make.

The following days I saw two things which were polar opposites. One was a young girl who I have never spoken to before, during or since. She used her own face as an image and stated to someone in a conversation I was not involved in that she has too much pride than to show off her boobs online. Her, I could have hugged. The other was the same young woman I had offended now sporting a new avatar where she is leaning forward and displaying her cleavage in a more sexualized tone. All I felt there was pity at the youth and inexperience being displayed. There was a spirit of rebellion that showed more to do with peer pressure than any pride in which she was as an individual. Yes she has the right to show that image. I hope she never suffers the potential and unnecessary consequences of having done so.

  1. JRoach says:

    I tend to think would I want my 15 year old daughter to do this? If my answer to my own question is no, then the answer is it must not be appropriate!

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