Tuesday, October 13, 2015

On selfies

I’ve thought about writing this piece for a long time, but I’ve always gotten weird and shy about it. Until now.

Let’s talk about selfies.

If you’re my personal friend on facebook, you may have noticed that I post a lot of selfies.  I don’t post them every day or even every week, but I take and post them when my hair or makeup is looking cute, when I’m bored, when the lighting is interesting, or just when I damn feel like it.

Maybe that should be the end of the blog.  I take selfies because I damn feel like it. The end.

But see…. I get some shit about my selfies.  Some of it good-natured ribbing from friends, some of it odd comments from people I have never met (usually friends of friends who friend-requested me on facebook), some of it link after link to that fake article about how taking selfies is a new mental illness in the DSM.  (It’s not.  It’s fake, people. Please stop posting it on my wall. Snopes is a thing.  Use the snopes.)

When I thought about writing this piece, I got this weird feeling.  Like, maybe it IS terrible that I take selfies.  Maybe it’s vain and stupid and, like one high school friend posted, something that lonely people do because they don’t have any friends to take pictures of them.

Uh, my sister is a professional photographer.  I don’t lack for photos of me.  I don’t lack for friends either.  I have some of the best friends on the planet and I feel very lucky to have them. 

But I take selfies anyway.  And it’s not just because I feel like it. 

See, when people give me shit about my selfies, I don’t laugh it off.  I might pretend to, but it actually feels intensely personal when people judge my selfie-taking.  Because for me, selfies aren’t about vanity or seeking validation or wanting “likes.”  They’re more like therapy.  Self-image therapy. And it feels pretty shitty to be judged for taking care of myself.

I take selfies because I want to continue on a self-love and self-acceptance journey. I’m a middle-aged, overweight woman.  I have wrinkles, age spots, places where my skin sags, places where my fat bulges or rolls.  I’m beautiful, and sexy as fuck, but I also live in the world. 

As women, particularly older and fatter women, we get so many images and messages regarding how we’re supposed to be.  So many people telling us we’re wrong somehow and trying to sell us stuff that will fix us.  I hold the line against them as well as I can, and I love myself just as I am.  But it isn’t like I have magically accomplished self-love and I’m just done now.  Nope.  It’s not like that at all.

I still have days when I pull the sides of my face up in the mirror and imagine a facelift.  When I imagine my post-baby belly going under the knife to get repaired.  I have days when I try on everything in my closet and cry. I have days when I doubt my self worth because of the way that I look.

Pushing against that negativity, I have a set of tools that I use.  I have supportive groups of women online who can help me through the darker moments.  I have people in my life who love me.  I have meditation. I have my kids, who recalibrate my scale regarding what matters.

And I also have selfies.

Muddy gardening selfie. Still beautiful!
Selfies, for when I’m feeling pretty, and also sometimes when I’m not.  To capture fancy Pam in makeup with her hair done, but also to love and accept no-makeup Pam on a random Tuesday.  To put my image out there, to celebrate the way I look.  To find beauty in a face that society doesn’t think is beautiful.  To find it even in my most mundane moments. 

It’s not the only tool in my toolbox, but it’s one of them. 

I didn’t just wake up one day full of self-love strutting down beaches in bikinis.  It’s a journey.  And selfies are one of the things that help me on that journey. 

Maybe it seems vain and shallow and narcissistic.  I acknowledge that it’s about seeing beauty in myself.  And I agree that beauty isn’t the be-all end-all of what I (and women) should aspire to.  I aspire to things much more important than beauty. 


As a middle-aged fat woman with a big nose and a “character” face, it’s very easy to feel disenfranchised from beauty.  Part of cultivating self-love for me is reclaiming my sense of beauty and seeing myself the way I see others.  Learning to see the beauty that has nothing to do with the way I look at all.  Seeing that the imperfect parts are the very best parts.  I see that in others.  But it takes practice to see that in myself.

It’s personal.  My selfies are personal.  But it’s also part of my journey to let myself be seen.  It always has been.

So here.  See me.  See my journey.  See the makeup days and the raw naked-faced days.  This is me. You don't have to love me. I love me.

Reason to take a selfie:
Excellent hair day and polka dot sunglasses.
Reason to take a selfie:
80's night, Camp Throwback, and the sheer magnificence of my sister's face in this pic!
Reason to take a selfie:
Nose tampons.
Reason to take a selfie:
My kid asked me to.

Reason to take a selfie:
New tattoo!!!
Reason to take a selfie:
Post-pin-up hair

Reason to take a selfie:
A friend tried to keep up with me, which no one should ever do,
so then I had to party all alone because I broke her.
Reason to take a selfie:
Gay marriage is legal!  So I did rainbow eye makeup and it looked awesome!
Reason to take a selfie:
I made this sweet dragon hat for my kid but he wouldn't model it.
Reason to take a selfie:
Beach hair!!
Reason to take a selfie:
Really trying to learn to love my nose.
Reason to take a selfie:
This amazing shirt.
Reason to take a selfie:
Shameless drunk eating of cold leftover ramen at 2am.
Reason to take a selfie:
New tattoo and new lipstick and who the fuck do I think I am??
Reason to take a selfie:
Cheersing my online friends!
Reason to take a selfie:
Because I love these small people so much.
Reason to take a selfie:
Accidental good hair day from a sweaty topknot.
Reason to take a selfie:
Because I damn felt like it.