So y’all probably heard the hullaballoo yesterday about the anti-selfie post on that bastion of white-lady fauxmenism, Jezebel. No, I’m not going to link to it, it’s a big stinky pile of poo poo written by a privileged thin, white, able-bodied, cis-het woman who seems to think it’s only acceptable to post pics of yourself online if you’re flashing how you’ve bought new shit (not that I have a problem with people sharing pics of stuff they’ve bought – I do it myself, it was just her attitude, ya know?) and that if you do post pics of yourself online, it’s a “cry for help”. Yeah I know, puke-city right? If you really must see it, you can go find it on Jezebel.
So born from the backlash to that awful Jezzie piece was a Twitter hashtag #FeministSelfie born of this twitter conversation between @convergecollide and @thewayoftheid:
Not only did the hashtag inspire a plethora of awesome selfies by women all over the world, from all walks of life (most notably a lot of marginalised women awesomely self representing – PROPER diversity!) but there have been some very good posts about how selfies are important and how women should not be shamed for sharing selfies. I’ll post some links at the bottom of this post, and please share any others that you know of.
I wrote about the power of selfies back in June (what can I say, I’m a visionary :-P) but I was thinking about how I’ve grown since I started posting selfies, and I got to wondering what my first selfie was. I went back through all of my digital photos this morning to see what I could find. The first thing I discovered is that I have digital photos going back to my first digital camera, which was 2001. My first phone camera kicks in about 2003. However, my first selfie doesn’t happen until December 2009! Which tells you just how long it took me to be comfortable with a) willingly having my photograph taken, and b) posting a self portrait of myself online.
Here’s my first ever selfie:
I remember just why I took this photograph. I was trying to capture in my camera how my hair looked at the back with my awesome new colour (thus the mirror behind me) and I snapped this photo. For the first time ever, I liked a photo of myself. My hair was an awesome colour. I looked comfortable and happy. I was learning to be comfortable in my fat body (I had started blogging about being fat about six months before) and I wanted to share this photo to show my friends my new hair colour, especially my friends overseas.
Forward through to last week, and a countless number of selfies since, and here one of my most recent selfies:
Snapped while I was sitting up the back of a meeting room, waiting for my turn to give a presentation to a bunch of my colleagues. I see something very different in myself and in my expression in comparison to the first sefie. My confidence is stronger. I gaze into the lens far more relaxed than in the first photograph, and I didn’t bother to try to make the angle “flattering”, just tried to get the shot composed with good light and not chop half my face off. Even in my choice of hair style and glasses tells me how I’ve changed over the years. My style is now for me, not to appease others. I scrape my hair back off my face to keep me cool and comfortable instead of using it to try to “hide” my fatness. My glasses say “We’re here!” not “I want to disappear.” I let my double chin be seen.
This didn’t happen by magic. It happened because I took selfies and got used to seeing myself from all different angles, and more importantly, I saw other women’s selfies. I saw women represented by themselves who are NEVER represented in the media. I saw women of different ages, races, sizes, ability, gender presentation, level of income and sexuality. I saw some women who looked like me, and many who didn’t. I saw women who didn’t look like those I saw in magazines and on television or at the movies. I saw women who are fat, or had wrinkles, scars, or pimples, or are hairy. I saw women who had no makeup on, and those who use their makeup as expressionist art.
I still love seeing selfies and I love taking them. I love capturing my moods and moments in selfies. I like seeing selfies of all the people around the world I talk to but have never met, so I can get to know them a little better. I even like stranger’s selfies, because I get to see lots of different types of people, and how they choose to present themselves to the world. Best of all, I love seeing my friends change and grow in their selfies. I love watching them grow into themselves and into confidence.
The idea that selfies are a “cry for help” or purely attention seeking behaviour is complete bullshit. Yes, sometimes they might be. But the overwhelming majority of them are self reflection and self representation. They are pictorial questions to ourselves, asking “Who am I right now?” They are snippets of communication about who we are, and how we want the world to see us.
And there is absolutely no shame in that.
Other selfie posts: