I took a photography course last weekend. I did learn a lot, but what you’re about to see is not technically proficient.
However on a personal level, it's triumphant.
I wanted to shoot a few self portraits that went to no effort to flatter me. I wanted to capture myself just as my mother made me. As I am in my 28th year. No bullshit.
Its not that I’m sick of seeing perfection on my feeds. I can contour, bake and blend with the best of ‘em and I really get a kick out of well executed artifice. I don’t begrudge women who apply, filter and edit before they post; because I do it. En masse.
However lately I’ve been feeling less like an accomplished adult woman, and more like a confused 16 year old in this wonderfully capable and appropriately ageing body, and that really isn’t what I’m about.
I wont lie, it took a lot of inner dialogue and three Ani DiFranco albums on repeat for me to even consider sharing these images with the internet.
I didn’t (and still don’t) want to launch into some trite tirade on the media, self image and their intrinsic links to feminism. I’m hoping most people can make that connection themselves. But I will say this; I don’t think it should be a feminist statement to take a photograph of yourself without makeup on.
This is just how shit is.
This is how those closest to me see me, every day.
My body causes me no end of grief, but it tells stories and hold memories that can’t be brought to life in any other way.
My skin is damaged because the blood the pulses though my veins is decedent from Ireland, but I’ve lived a mostly blessed life under the harsh Australian sun.
My freckles are a reminder that you should always listen to your parents, and pack a hat.
The mauve scars on my arms that appear when I’m cold are from third degree burns I received when I was 7 years old. I can still remember the smell of burnt flesh that clung to me for months.
I get the darkness under my eyes from my Father, who inherited the world on his shoulders at 21 years of age and hasn’t stopped carrying it since.
I’m looking down, because navel gazing is a hobby of mine (as if the past few paragraphs haven’t already given that away).
An afternoon with a self timer isn’t about to un-do decades of learned behaviour, but the confrontation has been comforting in its completion. If I had one piece of advice to offer any young woman who struggles with her own reflection, this would be it. Confront yourself. There is so much beauty in the abnormal, asymmetrical and the rough. Expand your view.
By all means, search the hashtags that lead you to flawless faces and bodies, but don’t hold it against yourself as some gross personal transgression if you can’t imitate what you see. We’re all just working with what we’ve got, and I'm slowly coming to learn that our resources aren't nearly as limited as we'd have ourselves think they are.
This post was brought to you by Ani DiFranco's fucking soul crushing ballad, Not A Pretty Girl.