This is a post about selfies, self love, self loathing, and how I learned to see myself for who I was. Like me, this topic is a work in progress and I plan to return to it as time passes.
I have never thought of myself as pretty. Or conventionally attractive.
In my mind’s eye I’m cute at best, average on a regular basis, and well…
Sometimes, I swear I’m incredibly unattractive.
In high school I didn’t necessarily feel that way. I had a cute boyfriend for most of high school (shout out to Damian!) and I was reasonably popular. People of multiple genders wanted to date me. I took selfies all the time!
For the most part, I liked who I am and was unabashedly, unashamed to be me!
And then I got to college for the first time and the self-loathing started. I went from having majority black friends with features like mine to being told (as if it were a compliment) that I was “cute for a black girl” and “the only black girl [my white and nonblack friends] would ever date/kiss/fuck”.
I had to deal with people who reduced me, who limited me on a daily basis because they could. Constantly reaffirmed was the idea that no, I wasn’t pretty. I wasn’t cute. I wasn’t dateable.
Not by any standards that I was comfortable with… I was constantly either desexualized as a black female nerd or – – near the end of my time with these people– hypersexualized. I wasn’t able to be comfortable in my blackness or with my body unless it was I’m a way dictated to them. (Whats fascinating is that if you spoke to any of these people, they would be shocked that I felt this way. They certainly wouldn’t see themselves as perpetrators of horrible things.)
Needless to say, that identity issues made up a part of the cause behind a breakdown I had in 2009. Much of the year is a haze, to be honest. I lived in a fugue broken only briefly by my return to the Virgin Islands and the escape from what had become a series of toxic friendships where I was the target of sex shaming, racial micro and macro aggressions, and emotional abuse at the hands of an older male “friend” i had been intimate with.
I didn’t love myself.
Hell, I barely liked myself.
I do know though that the end of 2009 was where I decided to change. I made new friends on the island and they continue to be marvelous. I vowed not to ditch people I liked for people I wanted to be like. I returned to the church of my childhood. I started to like myself again in increments and of course–
I started taking selfies.
I began with photographs. I had this tiny, dinky pink Panasonic camera that had been through hell and back. I took that thing everywhere with me. At first, I took pictures of things and places, then of other people. And finally, I photographed myself for myself.
It took me a long amount of time to be like “oh hey, I am pretty freaking cute”. It took me an even longer time to love all of myself. I take a ton of selfies and most of them — the really goofy or vulnerable ones more likely — will never see the light of day. But then, that’s the point.
I’m not taking all of my selfies to share them. I’m taking them to remind myself that I’m a person (a really great person) and I matter!
Taking selfies and sharing some of them and just being proud of what I see when I look in the mirror has been a longtime coming but I’m honestly so happy with what I see. I am getting to a point where I love myself on the inside and on the outside.
Here we are in 2015 and selfies absolutely represent self love to me especially in the wake of all the self loathing and shame I’ve had to deal with over the years. And honestly? I wouldn’t stop taking selfies even if you paid me!