Look @ me, I dare you

I. I have always loved looking on the inside more than the outside: I’ve reprimanded myself for not enjoying how grass and plants look more than I do watching people’s [take on their] lives on any given reality show or instagram story. I dive deep inside these images as much as I drown within my own, which I take compulsively, documenting every small change in my makeup, or the angles of my face. Also I need the reaffirmation of what I’m already thinking: that I’m attractive, or even more accurately: that I can be attractive, under this light, with my hair up or down, with exquisite, small and laborious wings that accentuate my eyes. But it never stops there because it’s not enough, it’s just a step in a program: Capture! Choose! Edit! Share! Repeat! It is an investigation of my potential impact, a gaze and a silhouette that are ready for action. An exercise on immanence and on being an object.

II.

It’s 11:30 am, I am late for work but i just can’t get my hands off my phone, my eyes off the mirror, my body is wound up in unnatural positions and my brain is numb with excitement. I’m either nude or almost nude; in that moment, i’m the embodiment of a rare version of my personality, the one that some may say doesn’t really exist in the real world. If the real world is the one in which I’m interacting with someone face to face, then I’m seldom bold or brave in the real world. I blush, I stutter, I don’t measure my words or my intonation; I’m a painfully shy extrovert, only activated like that by kisses or compliments. Luckily, that is not the real world I exist in. I expand both myself and the performance of myself within the multiplicity of our current possible manifestations: I may laugh nervously at your face or send you a naked picture of myself with a come hither stare via instagram private message, and these are just two of the many versions of me happening simultaneously, like an arch of personality disorder. Actually it’s not that deep, I’m only turned on by the limits provided by the screen.

III.

The other day, on an email exchange with someone I definitely should not be writing to, they said that they kept going on tinder dates because they are to scared to pick up girls IRL.

It was funny to me that they mentioned real girls in the real world; after all, I’ve been wondering what the difference is these days. As an instagram and former chaturbate/omegle/etc. exhibitionist, I can confirm that the screen does offer protection. But nothing really protects us from ourselves: the truth transpires even through the most trivial of tinder chats. The rhythm of our responses, the time we take to answer each “so, what do you do?” type question ad-infinitum, the embellishments we choose to make our narrative immediately saleable, etc.

It is on my days off that I try the hardest to create a connection, so I log in to every platform of social media I’m a part of, and begin to shoot. I shoot words and share music and post racy pictures on instagram because I’m so horny and lonely and will do just about anything to not deal with myself (or rather, my inside self). It’s a decoy that nobody’s falling for: look at my pretty tits while i lazily poke my brain for the next text i announced but maybe will never really get to write. It is what it is.

These are all inherent patterns of loneliness, but I’ve made it my purpose to learn to be alone. I have this sort of masochist fantasy to go into one of those immersion tanks: the narcissist nightmare of being completely alone with the self, no mirrors around. I wonder if I will come out as I project it will happen; after all, all I really really want is for my senses to really takeover and eventually suffocate my ego.

IV.

I shouldn’t delude myself, I would probably be taking selfies the minute I get out of that immersion tank. I will admire the way my skin glows with self actualization, and not have a single ounce of regret about it.

I will probably be taking selfies until the day I die.

V.

I am thirteen/fourteen years old, and I’m wearing a two piece bathing suit for the first time in my life. I’m walking through a beach town with my parents, looking for an ice cream place, and my mother makes a remark that I will never be able to forget: “Look! Men are starting to look at you!”.

She did not say it with the contempt I imagine myself delivering such line to my future teenage daughter, she said it with genuine, innocent excitement; like I was finally becoming a woman right in front of her eyes. Unknowingly, this positive, welcoming take on the male gaze formed an abyss inside of me: up to this day, I’m still confused about how I feel when I’m catcalled and why I enjoy it most of the times. All of my friends hate and condemn it (rightly so), even I am quick to point fingers and hate men for perceiving the female body as the only desirable, admirable, worth looking trait a woman can offer. I hugged my little sister the other day because she told me she stood up to a man in the street who started saying nasty things to her, she said she would fucking punch him and he believed it and backed away. I hugged her because I was proud that she was so strong and brave; yet, I don’t know why, I sometimes want to provoke that gaze. On most days, I walk quietly on my way to work, and avert my eyes from the humans surrounding me; they don’t exist and I’m just a person. But there are these moments, shifts in energy, in which I don’t wish to be a person but some sort of sex machine, with no name, no story, just a body to be watched while its strutting down the street. I unbutton my shirt and watch coyly what happens next. They say you do it to yourself, and I’m a living proof of that, but these type of actions make me feel magnetic power, rolling up my fists.

Maybe it could be said that I enjoy -and even derive sexual pleasure- from performing the scam of being woman in such a committed and detached way at the same time

VI.

I love instagram, it’s my number one favourite social media platform. It functions as a glorified mirror, the main medium of the research I’m conducting over my body, the bridge between me and all of you. In there I give, and I give and I give. I expose myself while I’m exploring my sexuality in terms of my own body and context; I do it because, as a manic oversharer, it just doesn’t count if the pictures are left sitting on my phone. Like my words, the images I choose to take of myself need to be out there for me to feel like I’m doing something. It doesn’t really matter if it’s embarrassing, because it is and that’s part of it; the anxiety is necessary for it to work. It’s like screaming to the void, but through yet another selfie in which my eyes are smoldering, capturing gazes, absorbing them. Narcissism, to me, has become a tool for survival: my fat belly is no longer a source of shame, it is, through the meticulous examination and publication of it, something that I’ve learned to love. And so with my arms and my thighs and my back, etc, etc. To love myself as I am, in such a public way, is one of the most political things I can do.