12/03/2016 6:14 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

There's Nothing Wrong With A Sexy Selfie

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 28:  TV Personality Kim Kardashian arrives at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 28: TV Personality Kim Kardashian arrives at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

The never-ending news cycle that is the Instagram account of Kim Kardashian is fascinating and essential.

Despite the social-media firestorm of well-known celebrities and columnists slut-shaming her for posting a naked selfie on Tuesday -- a day when we were meant to be celebrating women -- it offered an important lesson in female empowerment.

When you're like I have nothing to wear LOL

A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

It showed us that, as individuals, we should be free to feel empowered or "sexy" in whichever way we choose. If that's through posting a naked selfie, then so be it.

The implication that other people get to decide -- or define -- this for us is ridiculous.

As a 26-year-old woman, I felt like I could take on the world each time I clicked back for a peek.

This is a woman who is not a size eight. A woman confident in her own skin. And, a woman who hasn't been Photoshopped.

It is sad that some of Kardashian's loudest critics were women.

These kinds of reactions only give weight to the silent and enduring criticism placed on a woman's body, and allow for the idea to prevail that embracing your sexuality is somehow a dirty, trashy thing. Or that posting a picture of yourself can only mean you're vying for the attention of a man.

I don't know about you, but all of the women I know do not dress for men. They dress to make themselves feel good and, more often than not, for other women.

I'll never forget the 'Sex and the City' episode where Samantha has her photo taken, nude, and hangs it on her wall at home. Just because.

If only we all celebrated our bodies like Samantha, without feeling ashamed or like we've just committed some kind of crime.

But the truth is, that same feeling of shame begins even before we know what a tampon is. When we're told to "cover up" or it will "send the wrong message". It's not our fault, of course, but somehow we are the ones who have to change our behaviour/hemline or risk being judged.

But it's more than judgement.

It's slut-shaming and harassment.

And perhaps the worst part about the Kim Kardashian case are the claims from other women that a naked selfie sends the wrong message to young girls.

Let's be real: this is not the first woman in history to be naked in public.

When a magazine puts a naked, pregnant woman on the cover, she is beautiful. But when a successful businesswoman, who just so happens to have a killer body, uploads a naked selfie on her own terms, she's a bad role model?


A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

The thing is, while we were busy getting lost in the Kim Kardashian opinion tsunami this week, we missed some pretty frightening research.

A nationwide survey revealed almost 60 percent of girls aged 15-19 receive unsolicited explicit sexual content (AKA "dick pics" -- yes, these are a thing -- sent direct to their phone) invading their privacy and, quite frankly, harassing them.

But nobody likes to talk about penises (unless it's Justin Bieber's and I'm pretty certain the ratio of praise to shame he received was quite different to what Kardashian is experiencing right now).

Nor do they like to tell these dick-pic perpetrators to "cover up", because this kind of behaviour is, what, expected?

The same girls in the survey report that pressure to send explicit pictures to the opposite sex is commonplace.

Perhaps instead of focusing our attention on Kim Kardashian, who is more than capable of defending herself, we concentrate our energy on teaching young boys and girls about what a respectful relationship is.

Because a welcome sexy selfie in a healthy relationship is wonderful, but an uninvited one is never okay.

Maybe then young people might feel valued enough that the pressure of living up to whatever society's version of "sexy" is fades away, along with the need to judge other people's versions.

When did the universe come to the bizarre conclusion that, if a woman puts her naked self out to the world, she is fair game for hate and harassment?

I look forward to the time we can simply brush it aside like we currently do a dick pic, and get back to reading about negative gearing and Donald Trump.