Willow Smith is my role model.

(Image via Instagram)
(Image via Instagram)

Along with Anthony Bourdain, Ellen Degeneres and Emma Thompson, Willow Smith is another person whose company and conversation I imagine I’d enjoy…on a lazy Sunday afternoon…at brunch…at a quaint, inconspicuous restaurant…in the Village…in late spring. (Clearly, I haven’t given this idea much thought.)

Like a moth to a flame, I am drawn to people whose charisma and eccentricity roll off them like water off a duck’s back. Their original aromas override any scent sold at Macy’s or Walgreens. Their cool is so implied that it goes without saying…or Super Bowl commercials*. Their sense of self makes so much sense to me.

Granted, I have a sense of these charismatic eccentrics, as filtered through my television, computer and phone screens–I don’t really know them. I mean, who do we ever really know? (That was classic Willow, right?)

What else is classic Willow is the “topless” top she’s donning in the picture at the top of this post and the apparent controversy that it and her sense of self sparked this week.

“When did the women’s body start being something to hide?” #freethenipple

This is Willow’s caption for the picture.

Admittedly, when I first saw it, my caption for the picture was, “Umm…” It took me a minute to see the fabric that covered her wrists, arms and her entire torso.

“Oh…” I finally breathed.

Then I smiled and nodded at the screen.

“Touché, Willow, touché.”

It’s embarrassing that I, a woman who’s down to #freethenipple whenever so inclined and even wrote a post titled “Naked and unafraid,” not to mention a book of erotica, was still afraid and taken aback by Willow’s visual call to bare breasts.

That’s a trip, I thought, humbled by the 14-year-old’s cleverness. (Now I see how parents feel.)

I also see Willow’s point. The idea that we are skittish about members of the female gender choosing to bare our bodies, in general, and breasts, in particular, is particularly absurd; especially, when you consider the social acceptance of boys and men to be shirtless publicly, and girls and women to buy hundreds thousands millions billions of dollars worth of stuff to conceal yet publicize our ‘private’ parts.

The absurdity grows still when people endorse this social ‘logic’ by calling a clever 14-year-old girl illogical. Hmm. To me, what’s illogical is people’s unwillingness to see that nudeness does not necessitate lewdness.

What actually builds the bridge between nudeness and lewdness are our thoughts about nudity, not nudity itself. Nudity, like anything else, has no meaning until we attach meaning to it. And nudity, like anything else, only means what we think it means.

Therefore, if you think nudeness means lewdness, then it does…for you. And if you think nudeness means acceptance and appreciation of one’s body, then it does…for you. And if you think nudeness means anything else, then…you get the gist.

Our thoughts are ours, and they and our behaviors which result from them are the responsibility of no one else but ourselves. That means we can’t make someone else – including a clever, charismatic and eccentric 14-year-old girl – responsible for the thoughts in our heads, nor our resulting behaviors.

Thanks, Willow, for that reminder.

*UPDATE: I just found out that Mindy Kaling is baring her nudity in a Super Bowl commercial. What are the odds? It’s okay, though. She’s still charismatically eccentric so she’s still invited to brunch.

Copyright © 2014-2016 Stephanie Rochelle Redd. All rights reserved.


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