This isn’t some grandiose defense of selfies because I really don’t think they need to be defended– anyone who hates on them probably has a sad, empty life that doesn’t need to be addressed anyway.
But I just felt like explaining why I myself take so darn many. I’m not going to get up here and pretend like it matters or changes things or makes it any less attention-seeking. I just also don’t think seeking attention is inherently small or base or low.
I have had multiple different years long eating disorders throughout my life. Despite loving myself, I’ve rarely loved my body– a distinction that it seems most people don’t want to hear about. I’ve never felt much of a connection to my body or how I look. I often have to look in the mirror just to connect that with the ship I’m captaining in my mind. I don’t look the way I want to look in such a myriad of ways that it’s difficult for me to feel any kind of kinship to this meat prison that is holding my brain which I happen to love very dearly after all these years together.
About 5 or 6 years ago when selfies really took off, I railed against them. Not very publicly, but they were not a thing I was willing to do. Up to even 2 years ago I had never taken one. What changed? Probably the same thing that led me to getting a twitter account: I stopped caring about being attention seeking in that way and just let myself enjoy something.
And a switch flipped for me. For the first time in my life I felt like I had some level of control over the photos that were going up online. They weren’t the oft-hideous ones that my roommate convinced me I looked fine in. They also tended to be of only my face, which I didn’t mind nearly so much (despite the fact that it’s wholly lopsided) as my body. For the very first time in my whole 22 years I felt a connection between what I saw in photos and what I am.
I can’t tell you how helpful it has been for me to like images of myself. Of course there is a lovely side effect of posting them online and getting a boost, but–just like when I like some of my writing–the real key is for me to like it. I love the fact that there exist photos now that make me feel better and not worse about myself. I waited years for that.
Again, I’m not even trying to defend selfies as much as I’m hoping that anyone who needs them finds them because I was reluctant and judgmental for so long. I wish someone had just said, “Fuck everyone who thinks otherwise, this is the smallest deal in the world to take a picture of yourself. Or even 87 pictures.”