A photo of Iggy Azalea sparked a heated discussion over whether she’s changed her figure, but the reality is that her body is nobody’s business but her own.
The internet began overflowing with uninvited commentary on Monday when Iggy Azalea shared a photo on Instagram of herself rocking a bikini. The photo features the pop star seated at the edge of a swimming pool wearing a swimsuit that prominently features her waist and butt. Another photo, shared soon afterward, shows Azalea in the same bikini, laying out on a lounge chair.
As soon as the photos went live, followers and fans began buzzing about whether her butt is “natural.” Everyone and their cousin offered up speculation about whether Azalea somehow altered her photo or underwent cosmetic surgery to increase the size of her behind. When Azalea made an appearance on Wild ‘N Out on Thursday, one of the show’s comedians even had the gall to ask her “how much of that booty is really real,” adding that “every dude in here” would like to know. Ugh.
Azalea retorted with a mic-dropping response, telling the dude and his costars, “It’s real in your hands, but y’all don’t need to be worrying about booty that’s above your weight class.” Her comeback was clever, but that’s not the point, nor does it particularly matter whether Azalea had cosmetic procedures done to her butt or not. What matters is that her body is herbusiness, and not anyone else’s. Asking someone out of the blue whether they’ve had cosmetic surgery to begin with, let alone on national television, is wildly inappropriate. Azalea has been candid before about previous experiences with cosmetic procedures, but that fact doesn’t mean that openly questioning her body is now fair game.
Questions like the one asked on Wild ‘N Out creates the impression that Azalea’s body, or any woman’s for that matter, exists only for the enjoyment of others. “It’s very hard to feel okay about your body when you live in a culture where women’s bodies are constantly targeted for evaluation and discussion,” Renee Engeln, Ph.D., psychology professor and director of Northwestern’s Body and Media Lab, tells SELF. “It basically contributes to what we call objectification, where you think of women as being just bodies and that they’re only worthy insomuch as their body is pleasing or not pleasing to other people.”
The speculation that played out over Azalea’s appearance this week only feeds right into an already prevalent culture of objectification and body negativity. “When we comment on celebrities’ bodies…positively or negatively, what we’re sending is this message that it’s a worthwhile and important thing to do to discuss the shape of women’s bodies publicly,” Engeln explains.
While there’s no one simple solution to improving a society that frequently objectifies female bodies, we can start by thinking twice before we engage in these kinds of negative discussions. “A lot of times we don’t stand back and say ‘Wait a minute, is this a conversation we really need to be having?’” Engeln says. “I think it feeds this idea that women are nothing more than what they look like, and it becomes easy to forget that we have a lot of other important things to talk about.” As we all know, ladies are about much, much more than what they look like, so it’s about time we team up to encourage one another to dial down the speculation. Women—and men, too—deserve to be recognized for so much more than just their bodies.
This article was originally published on Self.com