Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Politics of a Selfie

Google Searches Beautiful woman

Google Searches Pretty Girl 

Google searches Little Girl 

Google searches woman 

Four google searches and not a single image that looks like me, my mom, my sister, my best friend, my grandmother, my aunt… you get the picture. These images represent the standard of beauty in America and around the world. To me and to many women of African descent, selfies are radical.

Selfie: a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick.

A selfie enables you to look at your reflection and snap a photo. A reflection that is not represented in the media or world around you. The ability for a Black woman to capture herself and cherish that moment is powerful. Many historians, sociologists, and psychologists love to discuss how the millennial generation is full of narcissists. This framework assumes that all millennial experience the world the same way. Millennial generation really means White kids. Black women do not get the luxury of living in a carefree world where everything around them reinforces their existence.

Selfies overcompensate for what is lacking in the world, positive representations of Black women. Selfies are another way to say I love myself and I choose to put myself first.

I have 2,113 pictures on my instagram and the majority of them are selfies. Selfies remind me that I exist. They remind me that I can exist within my own context. They remind me that I am beautiful. They remind me that I am fabolous. They remind me that if no one else loves me I love me. They remind me how stylish I am. They remind me how unique my hair is. They remind me how versatile my hair is. They remind me how great I look from a perfect angle. They remind me of the good times. They remind me of the struggle times. They remind me of the many ways I can express myself. They remind me of what colors look best on my skin color. They remind me how much I love big bold colors. They remind me of me. And that is important for Black women. 

While we are never free from societal pressures, I can post a picture that I feel that I look best in. I can edit a picture in a way that I feel compliments myself the best. I do what I do to me on my own terms and in my own way. I am 150% about myself. I have talked about self-love multiple times and the idea of being cocky in a world that renders you invisible.

Selfies are revolutionary. Black women are flooding youtube, tumblr, blogging platforms, twitter, facebook, and instagram because they finally have the channel and medium to express themselves in a way they will best represents Black women. The most popular fashion and beauty bloggers are Black women. Why? Because outside of the online medium, Black women cannot find products, images, or advice on things that are conducive to their hair texture or skin color or body type.

Black women are the fastest growing entrepreneurs because we have decided (as we have always done) that it is important to put ourselves first and create content that mirrors our wants and desires.

In a world that renders Black women invisible, it is hard for many to conceptualize how revolutionary and radical a selfie is.

As you see on social media, there are many memes and posts about how women (particularly Black women) do things for likes. They describe us as materialistic, shallow, gold digging, attention seekers who live a life revolved around men. The reason why? People don’t see Black women as autonomous human beings who are able to make decisions for themselves, including the decision to love themselves in a world that hates them.

People are uncomfortable with this notion so they bash and ridicule us. They cant imagine Black women loving themselves unapologetically. They cant imagine Black women owning themselves and their image. They cant imagine Black women doing anything without someone else's permission. People want to control what we do. Slurs, memes, and fake deep art such as this below only serve to put Black women black into their place. 

But this only forces us to build more sisterhood and community. Every time someone strikes a Black woman, a Black woman creates another channel to express self-love and to create products or ideas that cater to only Black women. I hate that our inspiration has to come from the hate in the world. But the most oppressed people are often the most innovative and creative people. They are the doers, the movers, the shakers because they have to survive.

Black women have to must survive.
As Assata said we have a duty to win and fight and love one another. A very important concept of Black feminist theory is the ability for Black women to 1) recognize the negative images and caricatures of them throughout history and currently in the media 2) recognize how those images are contrary to who and what we really are and 3) counter those images with a diversity of images. Black feminist theory allows us to assert that Black women can be all things at once. Our identity is fluid and adaptable because we are human beings. We exist and we have to survive.

Don’t ever feel discouraged from taking a selfie. Representation matters. We matter.

3 x3 x 4 x= 36  Beautiful Photos of ME ME ME + More

Because of Selfies I get to see people who look like me (literally me) and people who look like ME (in the figurative sense) 


  1. You fine as shit. And you right. Selfies are an opportunity for us to capture the greatness of our images, refelcting back upon us.

    1. Thank you my beautiful brilliant ghanaian muse <3

  2. In a fast moving world that does not appreciate colour, i agree we have to survive. It's all about the "self" and not conforming to societal pressures. Such a powerful post.