Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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Selfies Are Awesome


Dearest Friends,

I cannot believe how many people are using this word now! It cracks me up! My sister-in-law and I have been taking selfies since we met in 2006 and have shamelessly set ourselves up in front of our camera for endless photos at flattering angles that show what we're doing and just how freakin rad we are. I cannot even tell you how excited I was when smart phones finally started putting camera lenses on both sides of our cell phones! I think it was Ellen DeGeneres' oscar selfie that brought awareness to the concept of stretching out your arm/arms with your camera in your hands and taking a photo. And boom, now there's a much overused hashtag, #selfie!

Disneyland Selfie Circa 2009
The responses to this have been overwhelming! Many people/bloggers have thrown around the word narcissism, addiction and mental illness!?  Ok, lets examine this. When did it become unacceptable to admire ones self? When did it become narcissistic to enjoy one's image? Think about this: only 100 years ago, in America, it was not culturally acceptable for a woman to show her legs, shoulders, feet or even her neck regardless of the temperature surrounding her! Men were taught not to show emotions or tap into a more instinctive part of themselves (that is changing just now in our generation!). For hundreds and hundreds of years we've been taught to hide our true selves, our true desires and any action that stepped out of line was considered vane, showy, flamboyant, and even cause for medical intervention!

Its more than ok for you to take a photo of yourself and enjoy it. In fact, its healthy and just another tribute to your joy. May the people who see your selfie, see you in all of your light!

I wonder what is it about #selfies that drive people to these kind of quick, harsh, hurtful conclusions? Probably the same bad juju that makes people think they have to justify them! The pattern I've noticed is that it often links back to the critic's hang-ups about themselves, not the subject of the photo!

There was a time I thought that selfies were obnoxious and that the people who over used them were narcasisstic and ridiculous. Upon further examination, I realized that I was projecting my stuff unto others. My struggle to accept myself was clouding my vision therefore, when I saw others who were unabashed and deliberate with their self-love and acceptance it made me uncomfortable. The fact that people who are maligned, marginalized, and strategically erased find the courage to make the deliberate choice of seeing themselves as beautiful, is both astonishing and miraculous. - The Feminist Griote

In collecting lots of varying information about this topic I realized that this was much bigger than just discussing the common reaction to popularized self portraits. This is a much larger discussion on radical self love and our culture's aversion to seeing ourselves as beautiful and capturing that despite it's constant, nagging reminder that ourself is unacceptable! I think its kind of magical that we're fighting back in this subtle, yet effective way. And look at the response! Kinda makes you think, huh?

A common opinion that I've witnessed, especially that of our parent's generation is that the youth culture is self-obsessed, selfish, lazy and entitled. How many times have you heard the phrase, "when I was young I'd never get away with that...", or "your generation has never understood the value of hard work". Suffering is a common theme with many people these days and the rise of misery seems overwhelming sometimes. It would seem that it's been pounded into our heads over and over again that hard work and suffering is the only way to our happiness. This younger generation really seems to challenge this belief that's perpetuated such misery and illness.

The same thing is happening with the way we're told to see ourselves. Positive thinking, meditation, kindness, making time for self-love and self-care, these are themes that are becoming more and more popular in mainstream culture and of course, there are always the haters rejecting these new ideas. We must evolve. Evidence shows that sub-consciously, as a whole, humanity shifts towards that which serves us even if it happens very slowly... and the selfies are a perfect, albeit small example of that shift.

Another common argument I hear against these deliberate acts of self-love is that when you post these photos of yourself on social media you're obviously looking for a response or attention. My question is, yeah, so? Everyone wants affirmation of positivity! As humans we all want to hear that other's think we're beautiful, bold, special, different. Again, who convinced us that these natural, healthy feelings were bad or wrong? I mean, how dare you attempt to build yourself in a society that beats you down for being anything but an ideal, impossible version of yourself. Not surprising how the fashion and diet industry seems to thrive, huh?

There is nothing wrong or gross about freely accepting compliments. Folks need to stop pathologizing those who relish in the compliments that they receive. It takes lots of work and practice to be able to freely accept a compliment, especially when you struggle to see yourself as worthy and never was accustomed to receiving them!

Self-love is about breaking down these patriarchal power structures, ending misogyny/sexism especially amongst women & creating a place for every kind of person, sexuality, race, gender and unique person as a whole. Attacking photos and the people who are bold enough to assert them, go against the shift that we are all sub consciously working towards: little miracles that are attracting and spreading the idea of the love we all deserve!

Love, Michelle


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