Meet Miley Cyrus. She’s twenty. She is a celebrity with her name trending on online media every day. Her photos invade magazine covers. Among the information that she shares with us on a regular basis is that she undergoes Brazilians, simulates masturbation onstage, licks sledge hammers and provocatively grabs her crotch, sticks her tongue out, loves weed and finds it the “best drug in the world”.
Setting Miley aside, let’s welcome Camellia Al-Araby. She was a TV presenter. She was a star in her country Egypt. She hosted entertainment TV shows and children’s programs on daytime TV. With all the success she had, Camellia still weighed under the guilt of being a Muslim woman. She started seeing herself as a sin, a flaw. One day she stood in front of the mirror and cried. Next thing we knew, Camellia was wearing a veil –the long type that covers from head to waist and called khimar- and she was heading to Maspero television building to present in her programs as usual. She gave up the entertainment ones, of course, and stuck to the children’s programs. She wanted to instill her idea of “good, Islamic upbringing” in the kids. She was put under pressure to submit her resignation from her work as TV presenter, which made her even more adamant and she went from veil to burka or niqab.
Camellia has been recently supporting pro-Morsi movements in Egypt. When Police forces invaded her children’s school and her orphanage –owned and run by her- during the custom search for weapons and machinery in Muslim Brotherhood supporters’ homes and workplaces, they found machine guns, heavy weapons and ammo.
In between Camellia and Miley, there’s a whole sea of other women who don’t find it liberating to appearing nude on every single magazine cover, and don’t find it spiritual to cover from head to toe. In a world hungry for categorization, you either strip or hide. There’s a difference of course between the damage that Camellia is causing and the problems that Miley are stirring, but we are here discussing the illusion of choice that each one of them has.
Miley is so comfortable in her body and that’s why she strips, while Camellia is so uncomfortable in her body and ashamed of it so she goes as far as completely wrapping it in black. So Camellia is controlled and under the influence of Wahabi Muslim sheikhs and preachers who never get bored from spreading the word about how a female in herself is a sin. But isn’t Miley under the influence of the hungry media businessmen and photographers who are looking to exploit her as much as possible so that their sale numbers could skyrocket and people would ask for more from the ever-willing Miley.
In an open letter to Miley Cyrus, the Irish controversial singer Sinead O’Connor wrote:
“The music business doesn’t give a s**t about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted.. and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, ‘they’ will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone.
None of the men oggling you give a s**t about you either, do not be fooled. Many’s the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn’t mean they give a f**k about you. All the more true when you unwittingly give the impression you don’t give much of a f**k about yourself. And when you employ people who give the impression they don’t give much of a f*** about you either. No one who cares about you could support your being pimped.. and that includes you yourself.”
Okay so putting all that aside, does any girl here have a body like Miley Cyrus or is confused about it as Camellia? There are a lot of girls with flat stomachs and killer Brazilians. There are also a lot of girls with feelings of shame and fear of their bodies, girls who believe it is best to cover it. But what about those women who actually have saggy bodies, not-so flat stomachs, tiny tits, absolutely no Brazilians, scars as big as the Atlantic, narrow hips, full arms and legs? What about those women who wouldn’t go naked for Playboy because they are not Playboy material and they don’t give a d*** about it.
Many girls are not thinking of their bodies as vessels of sin, nor as candy shops. Many girls don’t really think of their bodies at all and want to be taken seriously for their brains not beauties. Camellia –before the weapon phase- was free into thinking whatever of her body and Miley is free to twerk everywhere but honestly, there’s a sea of women out there who don’t find their body image that mortifying or festive.
Written by: Jaylan Salah
Sinead O’Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus