This often feels like my online picture-posting-blog-writing goal, revealing without exposure. Revealing feelings, stories, emotion and skin and keeping the vulnerability to a level where I don't feel exposed.
There is an appeal in wild abandon, emotional unraveling, catharsis and gaining strength from an supportive audience but I'm not that girl. I can't unzip myself and put my insides on display. It's not how I work in life so it's not how I work online. Of course it's about control more than anything. Controlling the narrative, controlling the gaze, focusing the viewer and thus focusing myself.
But I can see how that would make me and my work less accessible. Less impactful.
Could I sacrifice my interior privacy and become more exposed in order to become more accessible to an audience? Would I do that? I don't know.
Is it weird that I'll post a picture of my pussy but not my face?
I used to not post my face for concerns of anonymity. But I find those concerns concern me less every day, frankly. I'm proud of these pieces I'm making and if someone were to link them to me in real life, I'd hope I could be proud then too.
However, I've discovered that pictures including my face, my eyes, especially, pull focus from the words or thoughts in this close-up text-centric thing I'm doing. And not just my face, I feel that photos with faces are ultimately mostly about the face because it's the most expressive part of the body.
I think the graphic quality of a body without a face attached lends itself to contemplation of form and shape and words. Artistic meditation maybe, sensual meditation probably, but either way more general and less specific, less personal but also more expansive. It allows the audience to get involved and project a bit. To wonder and think and not just to know.
It becomes about more than just me and my body. Or at least that's my intent.
I love the phrase "nothing but blue skies." It takes me to open highways on the first day of a road trip, wide open windows on the first day of spring, waking up on a day off, the luscious sense of freedom on the first day of vacation.
Beginnings. Anticipation. Excitement.
Beauty and infinity in equal measure and nothing but blue skies in every direction.
Naked is tough.
I can show my skin and not be naked. I can write about my thoughts and not be naked. "Going barefoot," as John Updike puts it, is so much easier. It’s taking appealing sexy pictures that resonate easily with an audience, don't require much effort from me and show me in my best light. There's nothing wrong with that but I find that it's not what I'm after.
I collaborate with my camera for this project. Sometimes I manipulate my camera to capture a shot I can see in my head. Often times those shots are nudes. Even if all my skin is showing, I somehow am not showing at all. But sometimes my camera manipulates me and captures a picture of myself that I hadn’t anticipated. A naked picture. That makes me somewhat uncomfortable. Or provokes thought or emotion or makes me wonder what other people might think.
Sometimes I post the nude. Barefoot is easier.
Nakedness is tough.
This quote is a violation of all social constructs in the western world (maybe the eastern world too? I won't speak to that). Come on, we love who we love and it doesn't matter if they're smart or good looking? I mean... it's true but we all secretly hope it isn't. We all would rather believe that we have the good sense to fall for the genetic lottery winners.
And speaking of the genetic lottery, I find interesting is that up until quite recently there was only one going trend of beauty at any given time. It was "the style of the moment" and everyone had to get on board in order to be perceived as attractive. If you didn't or couldn't conform to the going trends, good luck finding clothes that fit you and thus, per society, someone to love you. And while this nonsense of “fitting in” continues to prevail against everyone's better judgement, I feel we live in a golden age of rebellion against a beauty myth and I credit the internet and social media.
With the birth of the internet suddenly we had a myriad of choices and we didn't have to adopt one thing, one look or one person even. We could be into something one minute and then another thing the next minute. The beauty myth couldn't keep up with the onslaught everyone changing their minds about what was "hot" or "current" or "fashionable” and it imploded. The internet essentially fed the beauty myth until it popped. And out of that explosion came millions of smaller ideas, rather than one big idea of beauty. Now, no matter what you're into, how you want to dress, what pronoun you prefer or what you want in your sexual partner, you can find a little online outpost of fellow practitioners.
Social media is evil in many ways but ultimately that wide ranges of choices and exposure to the whole of the world should remind us that we love what we love. And we love who we love.
We love, because we love.
I think we should celebrate that.
I love this quote and I find it terrifying.
We've created these online lives, all of us, and they're simply mirrors. Right? Mirrors where we project the people we want to be. Mirrors where we view ourselves in the best possible light and perhaps we angle the mirrors to reflect things that aren't actually us.
That's one story about social media trickery.
Another story is that we’re all desperately trying to really see ourselves and to show our purest and best versions. To reinvent ourselves by creating better versions online in hopes that they become true in real life.
My naked selfie story is some combination of both of these stories. I've written about my initial inspiration for this project here. And as the months have gone on, I've pushed pretty hard to let this project evolve and deepen because it's become really important to me to make it artistic and not just a thirst trap. But that's a weird place to be with online pictures of myself.
There's a much bigger audience for easy cheesecake shots of my ass than a more difficult darker shot with text in it. It's too easy to get sucked into the shallow pool of likes and follows and comments and page views and all the other online indications of approval and attention and then start curating the site to suit the viewers. And it's difficult to continue to post in the absence of an audience. Or to question why I do this if I'm the only one who's looking?
But ultimately I remind myself that this social media mirror I've created is to a purpose beyond likes and attention. It's to push me to reflect on myself, how I think and how I look and the tension between online and reality. I always love my audience to weigh in on these things but the real job is mine.
Ergo I have to remember to look away from the mirror, for danger that I might begin to believe that the mirror is real life.
As a life philosophy, I actually disagree with this statement. Every culture in the world has a myth about some hapless person who gets seduced and destroyed by following a beautiful path and not asking enough questions..
On the subject of censorship, I do agree with this statement. I feel that the mental process behind censoring pictures of the human body is not only American puritan ideas about privacy and modesty but also "where oh where will it lead next?" As if hiding our naked human skin will make us forget it exists? Even after centuries of fashion has proven that the best way to showcase the human body is to put fabric over the top of it and thus make everyone even more aware of what lies underneath.
To prove that point, I posted a different picture on IG today where I’m mostly clothed and it’s gotten faster likes in the past hour than anything I’ve posted all week.
But this picture above I won't post on Instagram because it shows my nipples. Even though they're shadowed and not prominently featured, chances are good this picture would be pulled. One could ask why. The picture is beautiful, the human body is beautiful, every unaltered human on earth has nipples and yet they're not ok on social media. At least, they aren't ok in naked form.
I thought of this conundrum this morning when a woman posted close ups of her breasts in a sheer bra and her pictures popped up on my feed. I'm curious whether her pics will get deleted but because she's following the letter of the IG censorship law, it's possible they won't.
But ultimately, if the letter of the censorship law can be twisted to negate the spirit of the censorship law, what's the point of censorship?
Since I control the camera, there are definitely times when I think I look better with my clothes off.
I wonder if I would feel the same if someone else was taking these pictures? Would they see me the way that I want to be seen? Would something different be revealed in me through their lens?
I've had friends suggest that I expand this project to include other people. It's hard to imagine. It's so very different to pose for someone else, in the same way that I'd have to completely retrack my mind to see someone else's body the way I'm trying to see my own.
But it would be an interesting experiment...
I don't really have time today to explore this subject. But I'll get back to it.
Also is anyone bothered by the way the written text on my arm isn't duplicated in my arm reflection? I can't tell if I like that or not.
This is my mantra for today.
I work in a job that seems like a dream come true. And for many years it was my dream. But it isn't any more.
Up until this week I had a specific plan, I was looking for one particular job opportunity to open up so I could leave this job and jump to that one. But as time as gone on, I've realized that I simply need to get out of this job. Ergo I'm opening my mind to other possibilities. Things I may not want to do long term but they'll get me out of this job and hopefully put me closer to my ultimate goal, though the road may be a little more indirect..
I'm looking down the barrel of my summer and I want things to be very different by September.
I lost my mom in January. Not to suicide, thank God, but to a wasting illness that she hid from almost everyone. For several months it was clear that something was wrong but she deflected all inquiries about her health and refused to tell even her kids about her diagnosis. When she died, it felt very sudden and out of nowhere.
My mom and I weren’t close but we weren’t estranged. She was a complicated private person and we lived very separate lives. Because she hadn’t been part of my daily life for years, I don’t miss her now. Not really. And up until this week, I thought about her every now and then but most of my time and energy has gone into building my relationship with my dad.
This week my work took me to the west coast for the first time since her memorial service. As I landed in this city that’s so close to where my mom used to live, I couldn’t stop crying.
It seems that no matter how I feel about her on an intellectual/emotional level, my body associates her strongly with this part of the country. Perhaps my current grief is more of a physical sensation and less of an emotional one. It’s a grief associated with other people’s grief, like my dad who misses her very much, and my siblings who all had their own complicated relationships with her.
In addition to processing my own emotional and physical state, my work has been a grueling mess this week and now two public figures I admire and respect committed suicide.
I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this. Maybe that life is messy? My own particularly right now. And that my heart goes out to the grieving families of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, both of whom were clearly struggling in ways that they hid from the public. I feel their grief and confusion and anger and I sympathize.
I’m trying to be in my body this week. If it needs to cry and be here in this grief filled city, I’m letting it. It’s hard. But at least I’m alive to do it.