Are naked self-pics revolutionary? According to Egyptian student Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, the answer is a resounding, unabashed—and totally nude —"yes."
Elmahdy is causing a stir after she boldly posted naked photos of herself, a male friend, and her cat on her personal blog. [Definitely NSFW.] Elmahdy, who describes herself as a "Secular Liberal Feminist Vegetarian Individualist Egyptian," sees the photos as a way of expressing her personal freedom in a country searching to find its way after the upheavals of the Arab Spring.
According to Al-Masry Al Youm, Elmahdy wrote alongside the photos, "I have the right to live freely in any place…I feel happy and self satisfied when I feel that I'm really free."
What makes her actions even more remarkable is that she is posting the photos—alongside the hashtag #NudePhotoRevolutionary—under her own name. Here in the U.S., we've grown accustomed to nude self-pics featured prominently in all kinds of political and celebrity scandals. But Egypt is still an overhwhelmingly conservative Muslim nation, and women regularly face harassment on the streets of Cairo and other cities.
And while many of the comments on her Facebook page have been positive and supportive—"I am proud of you and support and respect all what you are doing to open minds and awaken souls," writes one—others were more wary.
"#nudephotorevolutionary is a desperate act of social political suicide by a young woman. #Egypt should think about its verbal response," wrote Twitter user @MitoArab.
And yet another woman worried by what Elmahdy's actions might mean for Egypt's left-wing parties in upcoming elections: "Egyptian liberals will now be seen as Pro-nudity, and that could really damage their election campaign," wrote @RuwaydaMustafah.
Others, were simply dismissive: "My two cents about #NudePhotoRevolutionary: Truly do feel sorry for her. She's barely 20 & misguided. This will shadow her forever," said @Ethar El-Katatney.