IT'S summer, which means it's swimsuit season too! Like me, thousands of women have taken to posting bikini pictures online. It is an empowered woman's celebration of beauty, confidence, and acceptance.
But as much as beauty is celebrated, it also attracts a lot of predators and I have been a victim of some.
In particular, I was messaged on Facebook by a guy I know, asking me for permission to use my bikini photos in his "private time." I felt harassed. And even more so because he is my friend -- or was.
I immediately told another friend of mine about what happened and how I felt about it. But instead of receiving support, I was told to take the blame for I was the one who posted my bikini-clad photos online. "Ikaw kasi. Kasalanan mo kasi inupload mo (It's your fault because you posted your photos)," I was told.
But in my heart I know that I am in charge of my body and men are in charge of how they react and behave.
For us women, posting bikini photos is never a form of invitation. It is, instead, a clear message of how we've come to love and accept our body as it is now. In this day and age, being confident with our body is a feat considering how social media can easily feed our insecurities. In a way, posting bikini photos can also be a way of turning things around by encouraging women to love their body more instead of comparing themselves with models and celebrities.
In this belief, I know I'm not alone. Here are six confidently beautiful Filipinas who shared their insights:
I live on the beach so bikinis are my go-to staple, especially since it's so hot these days! I don't think there's anything wrong with women posting bikini photos online. You do you, girl! Instead of judging, people should exercise respect on the internet. Social media is supposed to be a safe avenue where both women and men can express themselves and show snippets of their life. -- MJ de castro, 23, Bb Pilipinas 2018 candidate
If posting bikini photos makes one happy, then that's what matters. If other people are offended by that then that is no longer her concern. -- Cheska Testa, 22, Ateneo de Davao University Educator
It's fine because it indicates great confidence. I don't think bikini photos encourage men to disrespect women. If a man does not value or respect women, then it does not matter if a woman wears a bikini or a cover up, he will still disrespect her. -- Angelique Lopez, 27, Presidential staff
Bikini photos shouldn’t be an issue. If a person feels that it’s inappropriate, they can always choose to unfollow. -- Maree Secuya, 25, recruiting coordinator
Wearing bikinis and posting bikini photos is not only a form of self-expression, but an empowering move. When I post bikini photos, it's my way of saying: "I am in control of my body and how I portray it. Your thoughts about it and its imperfections doesn't matter to me." -- Nini Realista Garado, 28, University of Mindanao College of Law student
It is a woman's freedom and a choice that everyone should respect. I see bravery and not lewdness whenever I see posts by my friends wearing bikini because they accept their bodies and are proud of it. They are brave enough to post it online because as women, our body could also be a source of our insecurity. -- Pamela Framil, 24, Sinag ng Davao 2018
Embracing our body and shedding off insecurities is self-love which takes on many forms. Wearing a bikini and posting it online is just one of them.
It is a beautiful world made even more beautiful by Filipinas who make a change: helping each other up instead of pulling each other down; teaching men and women to respect each other's bodies instead of telling them to cover themselves up; and accepting each other no matter what they are wearing.