Yesterday I came across the saddest opinion piece in a local newspaper on selfies which bemoaned our collective vanity and self-importance. Wait for it — let’s get the shock out of the way first — the piece in question was written by a white man. Phew, did you all get over your utter shock? Ok, let’s move on. Something struck me, the sentence: “it’s almost as if we have to keep reminding ourselves that we exist,” put in such a way that it is clearly impossible we could ever forget we exist. You know, it is for me though. Isn’t it for you? Not for a white man, of course, they are continually noticed, praised, glorified just for existing. I admit, I’m a cute white girl with a clearly defined love for colour; I get noticed too. But I still need to convince myself I am still here, I exist. More importantly I need to remind myself I exist on my own terms. The majority of people don’t get to exist on their own terms; I am not noticed on my own terms. So I forgot sometimes that I am an entity that is me because all too often others consume me without regard. And so I forget. And so I remember by turning a camera to myself and ironically producing an image of myself that is to be consumed, but from top to toe, face to camera, I decide.
But actually, also, this is so ridiculous.
From Roman emperors literally depicting themselves as gods, placing their image in public spaces, exporting their image wherever it can get exported. From Dürer, breaking all the conventions of the middle ages by not only portraying himself in a time that has only just dared to point to artist’s self-importance again, but actually portraying himself in pictorial conventions till then only reserved for the image of Jesus Christ. From letting Jack Kerouac believe his On the Road isn’t failed drivel with poorly written sentences, but an important journey to self-discovery. From earlier mentioned journalist actually thinking his opinion piece is worth a damn and, more so, is actually worth the money paid for by a newspaper. All this to a couple of girls and queers sitting alone in their bedroom and trying to convince themselves they still exist in a world that regularly erases their existence or only let’s themselves define their selves on a white man’s terms.