Selfies and coconut water sometimes get a bad rap. Coconut water deserves it, because it is vile and disgusting. I’m not sad for coconut water, it brought it on itself. Selfies, on the other hand, are truly a misunderstood art form.
I love going through old albums and looking at pictures of me and my mom, me and my dad, and me and my siblings. They are teeny tiny reminders and evidence that once upon a time we were happy: gloriously, blissfully happy. We did big squishy hugs. We had horrible but era-appropriate hair. Neon seemed like a great idea. I think “Wow, I remember when Dad took that. That was a great day!” There was always someone behind the camera, documenting our journey. Now, we are a household of two. It’s just me, Liam and the cats (who suck at photography because they don’t have thumbs and they are pretty much indifferent to us, like most feline terrorists). There is nobody to tell our story, to hold the camera and provide photographic evidence that we were happy, give big squishy hugs, and wear neon (because it’s back, don’t tell me it’s not) and one day, we’re gonna be like “Man, that’s some horrible, but era-appropriate hair”. Selfies are how Liam and I document the stories of our every day life that nobody else sees.
Another part of my every day life is fitness. I invest a lot of time and money into my fitness journey. I belong to an awesome gym and dance studio, and have the support of fitness friends. I spend a lot of time working on me and my body. I have this not so awesome thing called dysmorphia where I have a significantly distorted view of what my body looks like. I have had days where I feel like my belly has ballooned out of control and Greenpeace is going to mistake me for an endangered manatee and return me to my natural habitat. I take regular progress photos to document my journey. I look at those pictures as a reality check (in the Sunscreen Song‘s famous words “You are not as fat as you imagine”). It’s like checking my bank account balance, I’m just verifying the status of my investment.
An investment is something that you value, and some people say that selfies are a sign that you “overvalue” yourself (whatever that means exactly) and are vain. I’m an uncensored, every day life photographer. If I don’t have to go to work and it isn’t an “occasion” or a date, I’m probably not wearing make up. The vanity concept of selfies relies on the idea that they are taken to make the subject look perfect or desirable. I’m the kind of photographer who will take a picture of my son if he’s happy or if he’s cranky, because that’s our life. I’m not a big filter fan so my selfies definitely don’t make me look perfect and are sometimes somewhat crushing to the ego. My skin is weird. You can see that in my pictures. I’m not vain, it’s proof of life.
It has been said that if you want to see what someone fears losing the most, take a look at what they photograph. This is probably why I have a bzillion photos of my Liam (and yes, as a data analyst, that is a perfectly acceptable unit of measure). I photograph me and Liam a lot because that bond, that relationship, that is what I am terrified of losing. He reminds me “I’m growing up too fast, mommy!”. And he’s right. The days where he is young and cute and willing to get close enough to his mom to take a picture are fleeting. I’m afraid of losing these days the most, so if y’all don’t mind I’m going to document them.
My selfies are important to me for personal reasons. Michelle Rempel (Western Economic Diversification Minister) has been in the news lately with her selfies that make a political statement. ISIS has made threats in hopes that Canadians will not feel safe in their own bedrooms. Rempel tweeted back a selfie of her in her own bedroom with the hashtag #SecureBedroomSelfie, to demonstrate she is not afraid. I thought it was clever, but I’m not sure if ISIS is amused. I think her selfie is a lot classier than the “secure bedroom selfies” I received as part of my online dating experience.
Reasons for selfies are as individual as the person who takes them, and I don’t think it’s fair to generalize about why they are taken and how valid they are. I would love to chat more, but first…. let me take a selfie 😉