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Monday, January 27, 2014

#365FeministSelfie

When I first heard about Veronica Arreola's #365feministselfie project, my honest reaction was something along the lines of well, sure, why not. And so I joined in the eleventh hour on January 1st, a picture of me hiding from the chaos that is bedtime in my house.

Over the span of the next week or so, I felt like I had this whole thing in the bag. I was seeing women -- many of whom I respect and admire -- struggle with their appearances, how they presented themselves across social media. I started following several new women who I found through the hashtag on Instagram, and was still struck by how only after a few days, many seemed antsy about being the subject of their own capturing.


I felt almost superior, to be honest, because over the last few years I've really done some work on myself and my insecurities and I generally like the way I look. I think I'm a decently attractive human being and I've had the luck of being graced with some genetic attributes that some might find covetable and I kind of refuse to be ashamed of that.


But what I didn't account for, however, was the emotional roller coaster that is trying to recover from infidelity ... again.


I didn't really process how feeling ignored and invisible to Kyle (and thereby, kind of the rest of my world) would factor into a project whose main purpose is to make women be seen as they are.


I didn't consider how, on the bad days, that would come across not only in my face, but in how I took a picture at all.

And I certainly didn't anticipate a bit of a backslide into objectifying myself for approval, to validate myself against every creeping insecurity and self-loathing thought that refused to subside.

I thought about quitting altogether, as obviously my photos were not feminist enough, were not images of the strong, capable woman I'd convinced myself I'd fought so hard to become. Instead, they were photos of a girl struggling to carry a load too heavy, slowly breaking apart at the seams.

I wrestled with this for a little while, hating that I wanted to quit, but being ashamed of the composite image I was putting out there, the failure I felt I was fostering for this project due to the instability of my current life.

But, for some reason, I began to realize that there's no real "wrong" way to be a feminist as long as you believe in the core tenets of the ideology. That there was no way to do a 365 project wrong, including missing days. And that in my other online ventures, I have always stressed my own brutal honesty in my storytelling.

And this project is still storytelling.

My participation in this project will chronicle the last two months of my twenties and the first year of my thirties. It will capture photos of me with my children in our daily activities and I'm sure in our adventures beyond our home, showing that I was there with them despite usually being the one behind the lens.

It will detail the mundane ins and outs of my life, that are actually the things that comprise a life moreso than snapshots of the highlights.


And it will be photographic evidence of a process of healing, whatever the outcome of the story may be.

For that, I will continue. Because someday I want to be able to show these photos to my children and show them that anything is possible if you can look yourself proudly in the eye. I want them to see me as I am now, a real woman with real feelings and struggles and triumphs and humanity.


And I want to be able to look back on it myself, long from now, and see that I wasn't afraid -- of the lens, of reactions, of my feelings, of myself.

I don't think there's much of anything more feminist than that.