and communities of color, queer and trans/gender non-conforming people, fat folks, disabled folks and the whole host of us challenging desirability and defining ourselves for ourselves one selfie at a time.
there’s this thing that i’ve been witnessing over the past several weeks, this discourse on #selfies and #selfieculture where more and more, as many folks coming out in support of unapologetic vanity there are folks coming out to say that selfies actually isn’t all that great.
i’m thinking about the most recent jezebel.com article titled “Selfies Aren’t Empowering. They’re a Cry for Help." as you can probably tell by the title of my blog post that reading that article on jezebel annoyed me. deeply. angered me briefly and now i’m trying to collect myself again.
many articles on selfie culture provide an analysis of the toxic environment girls and women grow up in: cite statistics on the alarming rate at which girls and women are pushed by cosmetic companies to look like a skinny Victoria Secret model, present reports on how girls and women seen themselves and their self esteem, analyze the shit out of misogyny and what it does to bodies and spirits.
articles like the one found on jezebel talk about the culture we live in where people - especially women - are judged by how pretty (or not pretty) they are. there is this fixation on presentation and attractiveness that is defined by misogynistic standards. what a lot of these articles don’t talk about is the other ways desirability are defined. many of these articles leave out what selfies do and have one for people of color, queer and trans people, fat folks, disabled folks and all of us living at the intersections of those identities.
presenting that sort of information and creating that kind of analysis is great. it’s necessary. yet, very rarely do we read articles and analysis that talks about girls and women of color from folks who are so interested in a better world, rooted in a feminist and anti-misogynistic definition. that’s a problem. when we think about the landscape of desirability and prettiness and beauty, the analysis we offer must do and be two things: rooted in intersectionality and compassionate to the complexity of our lives when we are searching to be so much more than how society has programmed us to look at ourselves and for others to look at us.
that jezebel article and articles similar to it piss me off and aggravate me because i can’t help but to read it as the perspective of cis white women who feel that their investment in eradicating misogyny, tearing down the patriarchy gives them power to define what is empowering and what isn’t. it ignores how everyone else is engaging with selfie culture. and more so, it just seems like a gloomy interpretation of how so many of us are attempting at being more than the culture that picks us a part.
i want to talk about selfies and selfie culture for people of color, queer and trans people, fat folks and disabled folks in particular.