Image via @thaisklapisch
The idea and definition of the female body is a complex ordeal. To assess one aspect of its multiple facets, Couturesque explores the theme of “BODY” and all that it comprises, by taking a look at the trendsetting Gucci Gang, an effortlessly stylish group of young Parisiennes - Angelina, Annabelle, Crystal, and Thaïs - who recently launched a project and Youtube series that they call Safe Place.
In the series, GG invite young women to discuss issues relating to sexual harassment, sexual abuse and, what they deem as the “bad” exploitation of female sexuality in social media. During their project’s six to seven-month creation, they gathered testimonies and comments from young girls and women and transformed them into a much needed “new space in which women and the youth have their own voice.” Their debut episode features a testimonial from 17-year-old Eve who explains her experience with “Revenge Porn,” a vindictive cyber attack from a petty ex-boyfriend who exposed private pictures of her online to all of her peers at the tender age of 14 years old. The episode also features commentary from French adult film star Liza Del Sierra who says that she too received abuse and criticism for her career choice, despite being mature enough to make the professional decision.
In a mere fifteen minutes, the girls delve into a variety of subjects pertaining to female sexuality, personal and professional exposure, and the double standards of social media. They elaborate on the notion that most young girls are avid player in the social media game that pushes them to record and embellish every aspect of their daily lives so as to score the highest points of admiration from their peers; however, over-involvement this game can lead to the negligence when it comes to the side effects of being so public all of the time.
We live in a society where nothing but a tap and a swipe on your smartphone can give you access to anyone’s intimate information. This constant accessibility means more exposure, both good and bad, but also a larger pool of unwanted opinions; as social life goes digital, and oftentimes, anonymous, scattered populations can seem closer and invite more commentary and opinions. In the end, we all become participants and so-called “experts” in this global community and its never-ending dialogue. The GG’s aim is to use their own platform to create a safe space for those who feel made most vulnerable by these ever-changing social codes.
On nearly every social media platform, women’s bodies are on display, and unfortunately, the increasingly young women who are bombarded by these distorted images can misinterpret or be misled by how they relate to womanhood. They see the transition to experimenting with sexuality as the first and ultimate step towards womanhood, while forgetting all the other aspects of development that characterize growing up (follow up question: in an attempt to desexualize the female body online, have the two become more enmeshed than ever?) Today, young girls begin and end their adolescence at a younger and more rapid rate than the generations that preceded them. It seems like somewhere between pre-adolescence and adulthood, young girls are being encouraged to skip a step, and are being propelled into a hypersexualized distortion of womanhood, displaying a sexualized public image long before their private understanding of their own personal relationship to sex has crystalized.
That’s not to say that any mention of the word ‘sex’ or ‘sexuality’ should be wiped off the face of the Internet. In fact, history and human behaviour have proven that once something is forbidden, it becomes that much more enticing, which then opens up the doors to an underground and even more illicit, fragmented market. As Eve explains in her testimony, the issue isn’t nudity or sexuality, it’s about how the two are portrayed in an unnatural and artificial way. At a young age, these concepts are drilled in our psyches as socially delicate or, in some cases even, unacceptable topics of discussion. Yet prohibition is the most classic case of how creating taboos can turn a harmless form of expression into a controversial issue.
So, to avoid pushing sexuality further under the rug and perpetuating shame and misinformation, the GG girls explain how important it is to “educate and not forbid” especially at a time when the people they’d traditionally look up to (mentors, parents, older siblings and relatives) have little to no knowledge on the intersection between the digital age and adolescence in 2018.
Thankfully, this generation is a resourceful bunch and with platforms like the Safe Place community, the GG aims to offer their peers the tools to assess and analyse their psychological and physical growth both communally and personally. Safe Place is the perfect example of an inclusive and unrestrictive environment where girls can share their stories and intel on the multiple dimensions of this generation’s dual identity complex - that of one’s virtual persona and one’s IRL (in real life) personality, which, for some, have inevitably become synonymous and interchangeable.