Bella Thorne has nothing to be ashamed of.

By Ava Sinclair – Visit her site at

Shame. Shame. Shame!

In one of the most memorable episodes of Game of Thrones, that one-word followed Cersei Lannister as she took a Walk of Atonement through King’s Landing. It was a ritual punishment meted out by the High Sparrow, a religious leader who sought to chastise a strong woman for the sins of being both prideful and sexual. As Cersei walked, a female member of the Sparrow’s order rang a bell and chanted.

Shame. Shame. Shame!

In a perfect world, such judgments of women would be confined to fiction. But this past week saw it play out in our very real, very modern world when actress Bella Thorne released nude pictures of herself before those blackmailing her with the images could make them public.

Support for her decision was widespread. Bella was invited on The View to discuss the incident. Then something happened that left her supporters both disappointed and angry. Whoopi Goldberg, one of The View’s hosts, criticized Bella for having private nude shots of herself in the first place.

“If you’re famous, I don’t care how old you are. You don’t take nude photos of yourself,” Goldberg said. “If you don’t know this in 2019, that this is an issue, I’m sorry – you cannot be surprised if someone’s hacked you, especially if you have something like this on your phone.”

I’ve always liked Whoopi Goldberg, but in this instance, she is just wrong, wrong, wrong…

What Bella Thorne did wasn’t just courageous. It also sent a message to anyone who would extort a woman in this manner. By releasing the pictures herself, she was saying, “This is my body – mine – and my nakedness is not a weapon to be used against me.” Rather than give into fear, Bella Thorne took the power away from the blackmailer. By sharing the pictures, she disarmed him and empowered herself. The last thing she should have expected was for some moral scold to shame her for having taken pictures of her own body. The last thing any of us should expect is public reinforcement of the notion that a woman should ever view her nakedness as something to be weaponized.

That such a suggestion should come from a progressive female celebrity stings all the more. If ever there is a time to uplift a sister, this is it.

It’s not Bella Thorne who is at fault here. As women, we own our bodies. We own the right to express ourselves as we please. Any criticism should be leveled at those who would blackmail us with our own flesh.

It’s disheartening to see how deeply the roots of the patriarchy still run, how tenacious its grip even on minds that should know better. Shame is an insidious tool used against women. Careful, we are told, lest your body, your fantasies or your sex life come back to haunt you. Careful, we are told, because being too free or too loud or too sexy may earn you a march through the streets, where your nakedness will be mocked.

When even a feminist icon like Whoopi Goldberg parrots this oppressive message, it reminds us how far we still have to go.

Shame! Shame! Shame! 

Enough of this! While we reclaim the power of our bodies, let us reclaim the power of this word, too. Let us turn it against anyone who would suggest that Bella Thorne is to blame here. Let us remind the moral scolds that the only ones deserving of shame are those who would use a woman’s own image against her.

Bella Thorne does not deserve to make a Walk of Atonement. She does not deserve the added pain this judgement has wrought. She should hold her head high and be proud of her nakedness. It’s hers to do with as she chooses. It always was.

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