There is no shame in knowing and seeing yourself. There is no shame in facing yourself and loving the human the looks back. There is no shame in documenting your existence in the moments that you love yourself, or need to remind yourself that your physicality is powerful, or in vanity and the striving to feel whole. In fact, seeing yourself in brokenness and the reality of your situation can be incredibly grounding. Hard, terribly hard, but important. I would maybe argue that it's essential.
Let us not strive for purity; let us strive for liveliness and fullness and the gasp of air after a season of drowning. Let us celebrate one another instead of degrading each other for our accomplishments and successes. Let us not settle for molds of who we are expected to be. Take up space. Take selfies. Take, and give.
When you document your own existence, you remind others that they can too. There is no embarrassment in rejoicing in yourself. The fact that we have become conditioned to shame each other for using technology as a tool of self expression is proof of our fear of self love and the power of grace, rejuvenation. We have learned to settle. We have let boxes win, once again.
This morning I photographed a number of different adults in a corporate headshot session. The stress and tension that most of my clients exhibited in front of the camera struck me. It's the same fear I witness during family photos at weddings. Generations before ours have learned to fear having their photo taken, whereas we see cameras as a way to bear witness to ourselves. Of course, we are still saturated with images of "perfection" and impossible beauty standards, but I also believe that selfie culture is creating an undercurrent that promotes self love and deconstructs the tension that many people experience with images of themselves.
I think I have come to a place where I believe that selflessness begins with fully loving the self, and in loving the self, being willing and able to give up the self. When we realize our importance and worth, we simultaneously awaken to our insignificance. And we are moved.
Purity is empty. Purity is nonexistent in this life. To be pure is to not be marked by the tides of this life, and none of us can avoid the inevitable push and pull. Why do we teach our kin to strive for purity and not for self love? Why do we teach abstinence before we teach grace and tenderness and consent? What is actually our priority - control, or joy? For the expansion of human consciousness, or the restriction of the heart?
I am learning to love paradox. That I sit in my body and love my thighs that seem to get a little plumper every week as I age and ruffle my hair that is finding its curl again and watch my freckles appear once again in the early summer sun. But that I also exist in a chemical imbalance that causes me to tear the skin on my fingers and pull my eyelashes and eyebrows out when I'm stressed and pick at my toes until they bleed.
I have visions of sunlight and refractions in salt water and womxn whose hair whips around their faces and eagle feathers brush their arms as they lift their hands towards a light they always knew existed. Womxn whose seal skins allow them to be in the sea and whose human bodies allow them to feel grass between their toes, these womxn who can exist in two places at once, womxn who are not forced to choose but can exist in their complicated, simple, duality. The legends of trees whispering to humanity, telling us to come home. I am learning to open. Trying to bloom, one petal at a time. Allowing dolphins to swim through my neurons and bluejays to make nests at my cuticles.
Maybe I'm another dumb millennial. But I'm listening, and this is what I am beginning to hear.