Getting to know Me, Myself(ie), and I
A journal entry and a letter to you.
Out of 201 photos on Instagram I only have 4 selfies. Truthfully, I am hesitant to post a picture of myself for a variety of reasons. I feel awkward and anxious about posting one. The majority of my Instagram feed is with other people. Attention needs to stray away from myself and onto others. Therefore, I need someone beside me and posing with me. I need another’s confidence next to me so it can rub off on me, detour away from me. It will become about us and not of me. There, uploaded.
But you see, I catch myself talking about others instead of me. Don’t get me wrong, I can talk about myself, I can talk about things I believe in, which I do a lot on Facebook and even Instagram, but nothing personal. The few selfies I have are unfiltered, looking into a mirror or a camera where I can see myself and my face slightly to the right. (Gotta show ’em cheek bones) Also, TBH my lips usually have a lip stain or lipstick of some sort to make them look luscious. I don’t capture many takes because I usually don’t like looking at myself so I often just settle.
Writing this feels uncomfortable. I’m trying to be honest, and step out of my comfort zone and talk more about things that are personal to me but I am hesitant because I am often afraid that I seem as though I am asking for sympathy. “Oh, Tanya stop, you’re beautiful, don’t think about yourself like that” I already feel myself cringing. Majority of the time I do feel confident in myself, both internally and physically.
No, that’s a lie. I know where it stems from. It stems from my teeth. My biggest insecurity. I am able to talk about my teeth and the memories of my crooked teeth when I was younger. I remember always making the jokes before others can. No one ever bullied or ridiculed me because I didn’t allow them to do so.
So there you go, that’s where it stems. And I do feel confident and beautiful majority of my days. And I am truly blessed I never let my teeth effect my self esteem that greatly. When I say truly blessed, I really do mean it because the majority of my friends in which I can see their endless beauty, never can see themselves in that way.
“I paint self portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” — Frida Kahlo
“I am the person I know best, but I am unsure if that person is the best.”
I don’t think I can represent myself as raw as Kahlo did. She represented her beauty in her self portraits, many of them her face is slightly angled or she is looking straight at you. She painted her beauty and was also able to represent her pain. She saw herself in every light — beautiful, tragic, and in love. She allowed us to see that. Her art undoubtedly reflected it.
I asked some friends to share their interpretation of how they represent themselves on social media. I asked if they believe that it reflects to their truth, why did they choose to represent themselves in such a way, and who is their audience. Below, are their responses.
The way I represent myself on social media is a very small part of myself. It is the minor part I allow to look at things from a distant perspective, making the things I post rarely personal. I represent myself in the way I feel most comfortable- never too revealing of my personal life nor all of my interests. However, I do show qualities I like about myself more than not for they are the ones I’d rather have people know me for. I rarely actually post selfies but I have taken photos of myself and have contemplated posting them. I am afraid to post selfies too often because I feel it makes me seem very vain, and though that may be true to a certain extent, I’d rather keep that side of myself more private. I try to rarely edit myself because again, I do not want to seem that vain and in actuality I feel it’s very unauthentic which bothers me. I always think of who my audience when I post images online because I usually want to make an impact but it doesn’t deter me from posting what I want to post. I don’t know if I feel the need to have people become aware of who I am through my social media sites, it’s ultimately not real and is also limiting in terms of getting to know someone. No matter how much someone tries, it is all contrived in the end. But I will admit, a higher number of likes on a photo that I post definitely makes me feel good once in a while.
I believe my social media representation is true to who I am, in the sense that it emphasizes features of myself I am most comfortable with and proud of. However, I do not show aspects of myself that I believe will induce negative feedback — for example, unflattering angles, controversial opinions, etc. I use social media as a platform to boost self esteem and positive expression.
Yes, audience influences the perception, especially the choices that can manipulate perception. For example, if my audience was my lover, my photo would embody sensuality and intimacy. As mentioned previously, a photo is an opportunity to portray certain elements of yourself. And, this goes beyond nudity. A photo can encapsulate a tenderness you are uncomfortable sharing on a social media platform. It’s safe vulnerability and expression.
I dont think I would purposely post something unflattering. If I did, it would be in a comedic light, which in a way, I suppose it is counter-productive. It’s a sort of satire of flaws, instead of embracement. I don’t think I’m emotionally ready to be that honest and vulnerable.
I believe what I post on social media is an idealized, censored version of myself. Depending on the audience I might post different sides of myself. I’m more explicit on Twitter than Facebook. I represent the things I like about myself most on social media, or use it as a form of expression to show what I like or what I’m into. I do think it’s true to me since I’m not posting things that are fake. I just choose to leave stuff about me out depending on audience. A pose I do a lot is the middle finger pose because it reflects a particular attitude and world view. I don’t usually edit my selfies but I like snapchat filters because they’re cute. It may take up to 10 shots to get the right selfie. The idea is to capture something creative and artistic and new while representing how I express myself on my body in selfies. I’d post unflattering selfies if I felt they conveyed a message or for comedic effect. Likes definitely boost my self esteem. Selfies are art and I like when people appreciate my art.
I believe my self depiction on social media is true, however limited in its representation of my identity. Although I believe that I do portray an image that aligns with my identity, I realize that it is only a portion of my identity that is being represented and there are many other traits, factors, and experiences that I do not represent because I either deem them personal or I do not consider these traits, experiences, or other factors to be worthy of being displayed in a “portfolio” of my images or texts on a social media site/app. I believe I represent myself in a way that ensures my best is captured, but also ensuring that my best does not mean I must adhere to societal standards of beauty, style, or lifestyle.
When posting a selfie however, these factors are difficult to ignore. When taking a selfie, up to 30 shots may be taken taken beforehand, yet sometimes only a couple shots are taken, or the selfie was candid. I do not have a particular angle that I prefer, although I will make sure that my nostrils do not appear too circular, or my nose too wide. Whenever I consider this, I ask myself if it is because Eurocentric influences have deemed my circular nostrils/ wider nose as unappealing, or whether this is purely for aesthetic purposes: do my nostrils look out of proportion with the rest of my features? I usually conclude that feelings toward my nostril shape are a mixture of both factors.
I do not edit my pictures apart from increasing fade and adding a colored tint on Instagram, however when I was a preteen/teen I strongly considered blurring my face to hide acne and lightening the picture so that my skin would not be as dark (or choosing black and white). I attribute the consideration of blurring to simply being one of many adolescents that may have been, some time or another, been a victim of feeling pubescent insecurities. I now do not lighten the picture for my skin, or worry about how dark my skin may appear in a picture because of my college experiences learning about Eurocentrism and its effect on modern standards of beauty.
I try to present what matters to me most on social media. And I would think it stays true to who I am especially since much of it has pictures of myself, my friends, and miscellaneous things that reflect my thoughts or views. I have an angle (face slightly skewed to the side) that stayed consistent throughout my selfies. I personally accept those pictures more than others because I personally don’t like pictures of myself unless it’s at a certain angle. It takes many shots for me to find a good picture and this only happens on days I feel most confident in.
Ultimately, I post on social media for myself. Because I’m probably my own biggest fan when I scroll through my Instagram / snapchat (lol). I look at my own feed more than anyone else’s & that’s because I like how I represent myself. However, I’m also my own worst enemy in this sense so social media can be toxic to me if I don’t feel too confident during that day & I end up deleting certain photos I don’t like anymore, or I upload something else. I don’t think i have a targeted audience besides myself & my closest friends.
I would post something that is unflattering and I think many of my friends have done that for me already. However, I want to touch on the amount of likes that, to be blunt, does affect the amount of self esteem I have that day. I will not put myself in a situation where I’m feeling like crap one day and post a selfie to gain a better outlook of myself through the amount of likes I get, though. I can say that my selfies are because I felt really good about that day. Through a wholistic standpoint, this analysis is to show how I don’t think I have a targeted audience in mind.
Self representation is hard. It is a thing that is constantly unfolding and changing based on the things we learn and the things we experience. As I read the accounts my loved ones wrote, I connect and remember personal things they have shared about themselves to me.
I want to remind and instill to always try to practice self love. It is heartbreaking that you do not look at yourself the way I see you. It hurt me to see that you can’t look at your reflection when washing your hands, brushing your teeth, and in store windows. It hurt to see the word “fat” carved into your wrist. It hurt to hear how much you put yourself down and compared yourself to other girls online. It hurt to know that your ex lowered your self esteem. It hurt knowing that you were drowning and I couldn’t lift you to air. I hope your healing now, I hope your loving now. I hope you remember, you are always worth it.