Who taught us to hate the self-portraits? Nowadays they’re called selfies.
You may have noticed I put a lot of them up on my blog. There’s a reason for that. A few years ago, when I was still on Instagram, I posted all kinds of pictures, landscapes, scenery, artsy looking objects and sometimes pictures I took of random strangers. When I ventured into the self-portrait territory I often posted selfies with my head chopped off or partial face shots or just my legs/feet or hands. I did that because of the pressure I felt from others to do so. People cheered through likes for headless shots and went mum on the face shots.
And so I got caught up, following along with the dominant culture, despite the fact that the dominant culture is populated by bullies. And I fell in line with the group-thinkers, convinced that perpetrators of selfies were destroying the ozone or speeding up global warming or something.
Who taught us to be such collective haters? These words and phrases have lately been bandied about on the internet— narcissistic, self-indulgent, full of herself, who does he think he is, navel-gazing, hubris, over the top, me-generation. We’ve become social bullies, keeping each other in line, feeding each other’s shyness and self-doubt. I’ve come to understand that there are numerous industries which prey and profit on our insecurities, from make-up and clothing to cars and houses.
I am a woman of contradicting personas. A few years ago my shrinking violet side ruled over my blow me/bite me side. I thought at the end of my life some heavenly body would greet me with a proud clap on the back and hand me a trophy for being so gosh darn humble here on earth. So I tried mightily to appear as modest and deferential as I could. (Yuck!)
And when you’re someone like me, who has struggled her entire life with feelings of low-self worth, you waste a lot of time worrying over what others might be thinking about you. So I followed the bully crowd, allowing them to dictate beauty standards. I sat back and watched the super-thin models, the blondies, the white skins, even the exotics as they became en vogue, and for a while there, I was content to negate my own unique physical attributes, and continue merely shrinking.
Because, I thought, I’m not young enough, pretty enough, thin enough or even rich enough. Who am I to dare to celebrate myself? I’m just some nobody. I don’t matter, I don’t count. Or at least, that’s what the world wants most of us to think.
Well this blog is about me learning to love my whole self, which as we all know, is a revolutionary act in this society. I am 51 years old. I have learned to stop wasting time and start living my life as if I am thankful for it. I have learned to love the skin I’m in. I’m not going to waste anymore of my youth — yes, I am still young and beautiful — hiding from the camera. No more shrinking!
When I first started this blog I had to grit my teeth when hitting publish because I was unaccustomed to posting full-face selfies. But I forced the selfie issue because it has been a necessary part of my growth. God gave me this face and this body and I’m going to celebrate it despite any opposing social rules.
Besides, there are so many beautiful things about being black. I love my black girl booty! And where I come from, when we strut our god-given attributes like a peacock, a lot of us don’t hate, instead we cheer. We say things to each other like:
You go girl! Work it! Go’on Miss Thang! Go on wit’ yo bad self!
Ow! Is that Brooklyn in the house?! (Yes, it is) Don’t hurt nobody!
Yasss, queen! You GO!
Instinct teaches us that as human beings, we need each other to survive. Therefore, it is illogical and unnatural to tear each other down. In other words, if I win, you win. Anything else is counter-intuitive.
Join the revolution and take all the damn selfies you want. Shine on!