An Important Statement About Complaining

I am copying here the statement — long — made by a Facebook poster about someone’s complaint regarding a photo that she posted.  The photo shows her unclothed torso from the bottom edge of her breasts to the area just under her navel, and she is holding her hands on her stomach, twisting her skin.  Her name is Alexandra  Rosado, and this is what she writes to the person who complained about her photo:

“Even though most of my profile is private, I’m making this post public on the off chance that the person who reported me will see it if they aren’t on my friends list (I am still unsure about that). 

“Today I changed my Facebook profile picture to a self portrait that I took in September of 2013 as part of a photo project that I ended up abandoning eventually. Even though I gave up on the project, I liked the picture. It holds important significance for me. Just moments after I changed it, however, I received a notification stating that it had been reported to Facebook for “nudity and pornography”. Someone had seen the photo of my bare torso and had immediately been so offended by it that they decided it needed to be removed from Facebook within seconds of it showing up. To the person who reported my photo, I would like to say I am sorry.

“I am sorry that you have been conditioned to believe that a woman’s bare skin is pornographic and obscene by default. I am sorry that you cannot separate my skin from sex. I am sorry that you believe the flesh I was born in, that I learned to walk and dance and swim in, that I scraped my knees on the playground in, that I carried my daughter in, that has been held and hurt and rejected and sunburned and painted on and pierced and filled with too much food or too little food and bruised at punk shows, is lewd and meant for the consumption of others and not for my own use.

“I am sorry that I was not born male. If I had been, I could walk down a public street showing the same amount of flesh pictured here and no one would bat an eye, because the only sexuality that needs to be silenced is female.

“I am sorry that you couldn’t bear to go about your day without correcting my behavior.

“I am sorry that a photograph that was meant to be a statement about myself became a target for your own discomfort, that you couldn’t look past my tits and try to see what I was saying.

“In this photo I’m crying. In this photo I am 105 pounds and I am tugging and squeezing and pinching at my body to make it smaller, smaller than it was ever meant to be because I have days sometimes when I feel like I am too much, that I take up space that I don’t deserve. I have days sometimes when I want to shrink so far inside myself that no one else can see me. I have days sometimes when I don’t eat enough. I have days sometimes when I don’t want to eat at all. I took this photo to illustrate a part of myself that I don’t have the courage to talk about even with the people I trust the most.

“Thank you for reporting me, because until now I haven’t said these things to anyone. I hope that you come to terms with your own issues about bodies and sexuality and skin.

“Since this photo was taken I’ve gained ten pounds. I’m healthier now. I still want to disappear a lot of the time, but I can’t yet. I still have things I want to say.”

To Ms. Rosado, I would like to say:  Thank you for your bravery.  You have my admiration and respect.  I know you did not post expecting to be quoted in a blog about complaining. However, my quest to live complaint-free encompasses the kind of judgment you experienced; and the lessons you learned from that judgment stand as some of the most powerful and impacting that I have heard in quite a while — including observations made here, by me.  Thank you.

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