Is Rashida Jones' #ElegantSelfie Campaign a Dose of Logic, or a Big Ol' Spoonful of Slut-Shaming?

It's no secret that Rashida Jones has never been a fan of Hollywood sex appeal, but today she took her sexy hate to a whole new level. This morning, Rashida tweeted this picture of herself with Aubrey Plaza with the caption "Trying to start a trend as antidote to too many sexy selfies." She also launched the hashtag #elegantselfie as an antidote to #sexyselfie, and reminded us all that "girls" are watching. While the tweet in and of itself seems to be in response to a panel she sat on for Women in the World on the hypersexualization of young girls, it fits in a longer story about Jones, slut-shaming, and fighting for anti-sex symbol status.

Rashida has always railed against the sexualization of women in Hollywood (she once told The Guardian : "I like conservative dressing. I don't like to dress to tell people that they want to have sex with me.") sometimes to a level that tiptoes into slut-shaming territory. First things first: This is in no way an attack on Jones, and she is clearly an intelligent woman as well as a totally inspiration feminist. However — although her views are usually more complex than simple name-calling — her decidedly pro-modesty stance does raise some interesting questions about perception and celebrity. Rashida's anti-sexy opinions started to garner attention when she tweeted the following last October:

The obvious problem here is the use of the word "whore," which like the "b" and "c"-words Leslie Knope has vowed never to say, has been used to verbally abuse women for decades. The backlash to the initial tweet was considerable, so Rashida tried to clarify with a series of tweets that said, "Let me clarify. I don't shame ANYone for anything they choose to do with their lives or bodies...BUT I think we ALL need to take a look at what we are accepting as "the norm"...There is a whole generation of young women watching. Sure, be SEXY but leave something to the imagination." Fair enough!

But even after these attempts to make amends, Rashida was branded a slut-shamer, and decided to turn to Glamour to further clarify her thoughts on the nearly-naked women of Hollywood. Although she made some salient points about role models for young girls, her central point was that celebrity women had been "pornified," and she made further derogatory comments about the presence of "stripper poles, g-strings, boobs, and a lot of tongue action" in 2013.

That's where I start to have a problem.

I will be the first to agree that sexy selfies dominate celebrity Twitter. This screenshot of recent Huffing Post Celebrity tweets almost confirms that, in the field of celeb-stalking, the words "hot," "stuns," "sexy," and "tiny" are taking over.

Notice that this thread contains one actual update from the life of a male star (Elton John), and five commentaries on how good and/or sexual female celebs look. It isn't balanced, it isn't fair, and I don't support it.

That said, I also can't wholeheartedly support Rashida's view of a "pornified" Hollywood, because it actively shames sex workers. I live in a city with the most strip clubs per capita in the U.S., so I don't find the "adult" industry all that shocking. Women who work these poles wearing g-strings have found a job they like, a job that pays the bills, or a set of skills they possess. So I don't think it's fair to use terminology that demeans them while trying to make a point about some of the richest people in America.

I also don't appreciate the word "elegant" being used for Rashida's anti-selfie campaign, since it conjures images of a Downtonesque era, when women were supposed to be beautiful but lacked sexual agency.

But I see Rashida's point, to an extent. We need to protect young girls from feeling like they can only look a certain way, and only gain self-worth from being perceived as "sexual" by men. While there's nothing wrong with a woman wanting to be sexy and feel sexy, the whole idea that a woman is only worth her sex appeal is obviously problematic and a toxic message to send to young girls — and the media obsession with celebrities that look the same (skinny, pretty) and get nearly-nude gives sexy selfies cultural value, and encourages more aspiring stars to get naked in order to go viral. While fixing the issue deluge of erection-inducting Instagrams is more complicated than one can explain, I know that shaming "adult" industry workers probably isn't the way to do it.

So, instead of the #elegantselfie, perhaps we simply need more fat, trans, and queer #sexyselfies. And then we need to get off Twitter and actually accomplish something to promote body positive messages, and a celebration of women — not a criticism.

Image: Rashida Jones/Twitter