Visibility, Community, and 365 Feminist Selfies

Day 9: No shirt, no shave, no problem. #365FeministSelfie

Day 9: No shirt, no shave, no problem. #365FeministSelfie

I am an unapologetic radical selfie slut.  I fucking love taking pictures of myself.  I’ll easily take 20 or more to get maybe one I’ll actually like enough to post, but it’s totally worth it.

Dressing up (or undressing) and having photoshoots alone is the adult-me version of my teenage passion for dressing up and acting out scenes/music videos in front of my bedroom mirror.  The difference is that as a teenager I always watched myself out of the corner of my eye.  Always kept my body at the periphery of the scene.  It was easier to see myself as thinner that way.  Prettier.  To superimpose a future version of myself onto what I saw.  The older me, the thinner me, the cooler me, the actress.

When I photograph myself, there’s no periphery.  I have to really look at myself.  Growing up an angsty introvert has made me pretty good at looking unflinchingly inward, but growing up fat and hairy has made me shrink from the sight of my outward appearance.  It took me a really long time to realize that if I wanted to radically, unapologetically love myself I was going to have to stop refusing to look at all of myself, including my hairy face and my fat body.   The practice of taking selfies requires me to stare unflinchingly at my own face and find beauty in it.  It encourages me to see the things Nine sees when he tells me I’m beautiful.

My beauty, when it has been recognized at all, has always been conditional.

Pretty, but fat.

Pretty for a fat girl.

So pretty if I lost weight.

Such a pretty face. 

(Imagine if they could see the hair too; would they still say even that?)

Selfies helped me see that all those conditions are bullshit.  They always were.  Even when I was at my fattest, my acniest, my beardedest.  I have always been beautiful.

Unconditionally.

And here’s the thing–so have you.

There is so much beauty in imperfection.

So much beauty in difference and in shared recognition.

Worth is not dependent on beauty, and physical beauty or lack thereof does not defines us, but we all, in our own way, do perceive beauty in the world.  I don’t think we should hide from it or deny its existence but redefine it.

I look at other people’s selfies through the same lens I look at mine.  I open myself up to beauty and actively attempt to subvert/dismantle the party lines I’ve (we’ve all) been sold.

Selfies can be revolutionary.

As a woman, particularly as a fat woman, I am not supposed to ever really be truly comfortable with myself.  I’m always supposed to feel at least just a little bit like there’s some way I could be aesthetically better.  Thinner, smoother skin, less bushy brows (hell, less bushy everything), “better” hair, younger, something.  None of us are meant to feel good enough.  Black women could always be lighter-skinned–all women of color could be a little closer in some way to white beauty ideals for that matter.  Trans women could be more “feminine”.  Visibly disabled women could be less visibly disabled.  This is the bullshit that’s fed to us.  (Obviously, this doesn’t just apply to women; people of all genders are subject to this shit, but I want to focus on women right now.)

A feminist selfie revolution is feminists (of all (or no) genders) saying fuck you, I exist, and the sheer fact of my existence is cause for celebration–for joy.  But it’s also celebrating the existence of others.  I see others celebrating themselves for all the things they’re supposed to loathe about themselves and a fire is lit inside of me.  I feel a connection to and a love for everyone who puts themselves out in the world in that way.

I don’t just want the selfie revolution to  live long, I want it to  evolve.  I want it to be part of a broader movement of liberation– I mean, I think it already is, but that’s what I hope lives long.  The desire to say fuck you to oppressive social/cultural norms.  The intent to open ourselves up to beauty and potential in ourselves and in others.  The commitment to staring differences and perceived flaws in the face and confronting our aversions to them.  To share ourselves and create community.

Which is part of why I’m committing to #365FeministSelfie.  I’m documenting and celebrating my own life, but I’m also seeking community in a way my anxiety-ridden, socially awkward self can handle.  I’m saying, Hey, other fatties, I’m here and I don’t hate myself in this moment (maybe), and I love you.  Wherever you are, I fucking love you, and I’m glad you exist.  Ditto to women of color, trans women and men, genderqueer/nonbinary folks, disabled folks, those that live at the intersections, anyone discriminated against or made to feel ugly in/by a white supremacist patriarchal society.

I scroll the tag on Instagram and every fat girl I see makes me smile.  Every woman I see unapologetically owning her own image of herself or celebrating her flaws or even just saying I’m here and this is what I lived through today.  Every woman saying I am fucking fabulous or I feel ugly and flawed today but here I am.  I’m glad y’all are out there, being alive, doing your thing.

I hope to see more of you this year.

You’re definitely gonna be be seeing more of me.

Day 10: More than the sum of my parts. #365FeministSelfie

Day 10: More than the sum of my parts. #365FeministSelfie

 

Our horizon will never stop expanding; we are always open. Stretching out, never ceasing to unfold ourselves, we have so many voices to invent in order to express all of us everywhere, even in our gaps, that all the time there is will not be enough. We can never complete the circuit, explore our periphery: we have so many dimensions. 
— Luce Irigaray, When Our Lips Speak Together (1977)

 

Feminist Selfie Required Reading:

#365FeministSelfie–Are you in? – Viva La Feminista 

A Study of the Self — Fat Heffalump

The Radical Politics of #selfies – The Feminst Griote

For the Love of Selfies — Fat Body Politics

Leave Selfies Alone — Lesley Kinzel

In the Queer Community, Selfies Are About Visibility Not Validation – Nico Lang

Be sure to check out (and join in!) the #365FeminstSelfie tags on the social media platform of your choice, and you can see 365 days of me on Instagram  Twitter, and Tumblr

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