I feel like selfies get a bad rap these days. When I was in college (the first time) and taking photography classes, I discovered Cindy Sherman and her whole thing was selfies, although not known by that name. It was her job to take selfies. Frida Kahlo is also widely respected for her selfies. And, of course, these are probably referred to by the more serious name of “Self portrait” but what, really, is the difference?
Nearly a decade ago now I became a part of an online group whose intent was to create self-portraits on a regular basis. Some were silly, some were very clearly serious art, many were somewhere in between those two, and a few were really just the online equivalent of a wave to a group of friends. The group continued on for seven years and I made some of my best friends through my computer this way, but perhaps the most important thing for me was how much I learned about myself.
Too often we hide from the camera. My mom did, especially. She loathed having to see herself in photographs. I made a silent promise to myself that I would never hide from the camera, if for nothing else than for the sake of my kids. We have photos of all of us having fun. Someday they can sit and look through photos and see me and how young I was and they can remember all the good times, I hope.
But to purposefully turn the camera on oneself on a regular basis is a life-changing thing. I learned to see myself in all sorts of new ways. I learned that I could be pretty even when I wasn’t feeling pretty. I learned that I could also be not-pretty and that was really totally okay. I examined aspects of my physical body and aspects of my psyche. I took selfies to express something inside me, or I took selfies just to share an inane moment. Sometimes people on Facebook talk shit about seeing too many selfies, but I love seeing the faces of my friends when I cannot see them in person.
(Some of the selfies I took over the years.)
I think that a lot of the selfie-hate out there is misogynistic, really. After all, women are supposed to be pretty all the time, but they aren’t supposed to KNOW it. If we don’t look perfect, we are lazy and slobby. If we spend to much time in front of a mirror perfecting our look, we are vain. It’s another in a long line of catch-22’s we have to wade through as women. I’m so done with all that bullshit. Hell yeah, I embrace selfies!
So when I designed this new weekly photo project I tried to choose themes that were thought-provoking and body-positive. I also tried to pick themes that could be universal and not specific to just moms who have given birth. The themes I chose don’t have to be taken right now, and they don’t even have to be self-portraits (although you must have permission to post the photo, of course, because of copyright laws), but I think it can be a really powerful movement if you choose to participate. (You can see the themes for the whole year here.)
Besides, I loved seeing all of your faces last week!
This week’s theme is “scars”. I can’t believe that I’m about to quote Papa Roach, but there’s a line in a song that says “our scars remind us that the past is real” and I find that so relevant. We are told to erase or hide our scars, but they are the words of our stories written into our skin and we should never hide our stories. Show us your stories this week. If you didn’t participate last week, no worries at all. Just jump in any time!