Flaws and All

I used to hate taking pictures. Even today, I am not comfortable taking non-selfie shots. At least when the camera lens is pointed at me and I can see how I look, I can exercise some degree of control over the output, the angles, the lighting… It seems trivial but there’s something about insecurity that makes one focus on the minuscule. The number of times I’ve asked friends to take down pictures they took of me, or removed tags of myself on Facebook… The minute can mess with oneself.

I know that there is more to me than my looks, that I should have higher expectations of myself aside from prettiness. I know that one’s aesthetics are a matter of the natural lottery, and at times I wonder why we place so much emphasis on this. The times I have apologised for looking a mess shames me. I catch myself hoping I don’t run into anyone I know on a day I feel a mess. The words of Warsaw Shire, Audre Lorde and so many other feminist icons ring through my brain, and I try to turn them louder than the voice that says I must look a certain way to be accepted. And it’s not even about the male gaze. It’s about being accepted by other women, by my peers, It’s a shameful sentiment to have.

The obsessive self-loathing is deemed a rite of passage if you’re a young girl. My having insecurities is more acceptable in society than someone being comfortable in their own skin. Billion dollar industries have been built on insecurities, and sustained by enforcing them.

A large chunk of the narrative around my womanhood is built around the cover. I need to accept that ugly is not a bad thing, to accept myself as beautiful. The old adage is “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” however when has one ever been the beholder of their own beauty? Maybe that is where it should start. Before I turn a camera lens on my face, I should be enamoured by the way it looks, because it is mine after all.

A woman’s face is like the universally accepted currency for her value on Earth. Is it narcissistic to have an instagram page filled with selfie after selfie, or is it testament to wanting to fit into a world that says be pretty first and foremost? I know that being pretty is not all I have to offer, which is why I take selfies on top of selfies, and Xzibit that shit by putting another selfie on top of that.Because I like how I look. I do not require anyone else’s validation. It’s taken 20 years but I am here – I like taking pictures. Memories must be recorded.

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