I Want the World to See The Man I See in Myself

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I take my selfies because I am that guy who, unless he takes the picture or suggests it, doesn’t get his picture taken.

Last week at an apartment party in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on the North side, I whipped out my iPhone 5, told the folks at the gathering to press together, and clicked away. Simple act, happens at least a hundred times a day, and I completed the ritual by posting the picture to my instagram and linking it to my Facebook account. But, before I could put the camera away I heard a friend joke, throw a little shade my way, and say:

“Watch, tomorrow there will be like five picture of himself up there.”

Yes, guilty as charged, I am a selfie. One of those annoying people who take tons of self-pictures. Declaring to the world that I look good and you know it. This is so true that the same friend had earlier brought up the topic with me; apparently he and another friend occasionally discussed my self-pictures. My narcissism flagged alarm. But, here is the thing:

No one ever asked me, “Why do you take so many selfies?”

I mean, I am not traditionly phine, cute, or awkwardly endearing. I am fat. Daaaaaark. My nose is wide. My hair is kinky ( a biracial friend once used my hair texture to describe to a white stranger what “bad hair” is, apparently any hair that can kink up; mind you, at the time my hair was short, combed, and nap-free but I digress). My eyebrows are not plucked, and I swear my pores are visible. But this is the point.

I live in a world where this is celebrated and attainable:

I could go on, but you get the point. That is beautiful. No argument there; they may all be assembly line phine, but they are each phine.

Now note: I have limited the photos to black men; the reality is that in the GAYme of Trones, white boys tend to be the Lannisters (the most powerful, most often desired, and the ones most likely to toss their beauty privilege around), but I just figured for once we could focus on just us. 

I take my selfies because I am that guy who, unless he takes the picture or suggests it, doesn’t get his picture taken.

I take my selfies because I am that guy who, unless he takes the picture or suggests it, doesn’t get his picture taken. My friend who asked, truthfully had very little right to judge; everyone takes pictures of him, with him, and for him. The same is true of almost all my friends. I live in a world where I didn’t hear someone romantically call me beautiful and desirable till I was 26. I live in a world where either body privilege or race privilege is always against me. So I point my camera at my face, most often when I am alone, and possibly bored, and I click; I upload it to instagram, and I hold my breath because the world is cruel and I am what some would call ugly, but I don’t see it.

At first I clicked so I could see what others saw, but I don’t. So now I click and post and breathe, waiting for others to see what I see: beautiful dark skin, Afrika’s son, a dream un-deferred, pretty eyes,and nice lips, and a nose that fits my face; I want them, you, to see that I am human, and there is a reason why I got to this size, but I owe you no explanation or justification for any part of my existence. I owe you no explanation or justification for my smile or my swag or my selfie. Hell I didn’t even owe you this.

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Like I said, I owe you nothing, but I owe myself everything.

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Originally appeared at Blaqueer: The Fat Boi Diaries

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About BlaQueer

BlaQueer: Born at the intersection of race and queerness; sentenced to time in the Midwest.

Comments

  1. When ou smile, your whole face lights up. I thinkyou’re photogenic, beautiful just the way you are. Keep smiling. Keep clicking. Keep sharing.

  2. I am never really sure if I look good. I’m happy to see myself smiling in sunshine. You’ve touched on why. It’s not about getting the admiration of others. It’s reminding myself that I can be happy, and that being alive is beautiful.

  3. You are beautiful inside and out. I love the line you say, “.. I owe you nothing, but I owe myself everything.” Love, love, love this whole post. I do not take many selfies. Too self conscious, insecure, afraid of what others see. But after reading this I am thinking that I really should.

  4. Dude, while you’re not my type (straight, white guy here) you’re far from ugly. I’d even go so far as to agree with Brenda that you’re photogenic, though I lack the terminology to explain why I think that way. More importantly, if self portraits are a means for you to self examine and self direct then more power to you. Nice article, and an interesting question to pose to others I know who post selfies too. Thanks.

  5. This article resonates because it demonstrates the act of constructing a positive self image. I don’t think that many people realize the degree to which mass media representations of beauty deconstruct (even decimate) our self image, or how deeply ingrained those feelings of inferiority sit within us. It starts when we are young, and we grow up actively questioning whether or not we are “beautiful”. Doubts about self image are part of an ongoing and active process that is reinforced every single day.
    It is a habit, a compulsion, an unhealthy one at that, and habits can only be broken through changes in behavior.

    BlaQueer has made an active effort to depict his person as he is, the complete opposite of the media’s “if you don’t look like this, you are inadequate” message. Celebrating the person that he is, rather than lamenting the person that he isn’t… that is truly revolutionary. Such an activity might be therapeutic for those of us who still struggle with image insecurity.

    Three cheers for positive self image!!!

    Also, I love his squishy chocolate cheeks :-*

  6. You’re right that you don’t owe anyone an explanation, but thank you for taking the time to put this down. It is one of the most beautiful posts I have read in a while!

  7. You’re gorgeous. And you have such an amazing smile. And you are smart and articulate and thoughtful.

    And you don’t owe anything to anyone :)

  8. Joanna Schroeder says:

    BlaQueer – this post is so beautiful it made me cry the first time I read it, and again when I just saw it here.

    This is STUNNING in its honesty, and inspiring in its warmth and pride:

    ” I live in a world where I didn’t hear someone romantically call me beautiful and desirable till I was 26. I live in a world where either body privilege or race privilege is always against me. So I point my camera at my face, most often when I am alone, and possibly bored, and I click; I upload it to instagram, and I hold my breath because the world is cruel and I am what some would call ugly, but I don’t see it.”

  9. Mhhh… those lips are SEXY!!! :D

  10. This reminds me if a quote a friend of mine said to me that really sums up what I felt after reading this:

    @fortheluvofu: “In this society….I am voiceless and I’m invisible.”

    We see you and hear you.

Trackbacks

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  5. [...] “The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies?,” originally appeared on my blog BlaQueer and on The Good Men Project. Last week I engaged in my weekly [...]

  6. [...] “The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies?,” originally appeared on my blog BlaQueer and on The Good Men Project. Last week I engaged in my weekly [...]

  7. [...] “The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies?,” originally appeared on my blog BlaQueer and on The Good Men Project. Last week I engaged in my weekly [...]

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