I was at a restaurant a few weeks ago for a girlfriend’s night out—a GNO. We laughed, we ate, we cried, we shared significant other and children stories, we commiserated, and we laughed some more.
Across the room there was a table of younger women. Barely women. Girls. They laughed and ate and shared stories and…and posed for photos. And they were soooo good at it. They knew how to get the best shot. They knew which side was their better side. They knew to tilt their head this way and move their shoulder that way. They posed, laughed, posed again, and, when pleased, went back to their meal.
They are a product of our times and our technology.
I pointed out to my table of friends–none of whom had even considered needing a photo commemorating our meal–how much I admired the freedom these girls have with their own images. Sure they carry the baggage of centuries old expectations of the acceptable female form, but they are the ones controlling the brush strokes now.
I think that’s damn empowering.
Last week I was reminded of those girls when this image came across my desktop:
The Mona Lisa has been deified, scrutinized, bastardized, and satirized for years so I wasn’t really surprised by these pictures of her morphing from simple woman to sexualized plaything. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
But I was drawn to the 2013 version of Ms. Mona taking her own best shot at creating her iconic image. It’s very much like most of the photos we now see across the depth and breadth of social media. We’ve turned the camera on ourselves. We have the paintbrush in our own hands and WE get to decide who we are and what we want to present.
How can we not enjoy that kind of liberation?
In my own phone there are many pictures of myself taken by me. When I first started taking pictures of myself I felt awkward and silly. Then I felt vain, especially when I liked a picture. One day, after taking yet another photo of myself I realized it wasn’t vanity at all. It was self-acceptance–self-acceptance in the best sense of the word.
None of us should measure our self-worth using our appearance as the yardstick, but I think these young, modern day documentarians, armed with a camera everywhere they go, may just move through their adult years with a better understanding of what bodies, faces, freckles, lines, wrinkles, dimples, pimples, and scars look like and they won’t question imperfection so much as remember how their imperfections made them beautiful.
At least that’s what I hope for them.
Do you take pictures of yourself just for yourself?