Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Namaste, Selfie Police

The Greek God Narcissus was a beautiful man whose parents ensured that in order for him to live to a ripe old age he must “never know his own true self”. Thus denying him to ever see or know his own reflection. One day, Narcissus was walking in the woods when a mountain nymph named Echo saw him, fell deeply in love upon the sight of him, and followed. Narcissus grew irritated being followed by an unknown and shouted: "Who's there?". Echo repeated: "Who's there?". Echo revealed herself and tried to embrace him. He stepped away and demanded she leave him alone. Heartbroken, Echo spent the rest of her life in the solitary hills until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, heard about the incident and decided to punish Narcissus by luring him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. Narcissus didn't realize it was only an image and fell in love with it. When he realized that his love for himself could not come to life, he committed suicide.

...Or so the legend goes. I’ve heard other versions. But where am I going with this?

Oh yes, Narcissism.

A person who is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity and who is cut off from shared emotional life suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. 

Narcissism is NOT the same as healthy self-love, it’s not the same as self-esteem and it’s not the same as enhancing one’s own joie de vivre.

It’s a very misunderstood term and (*) FUCK (*) does this term ever get thrown around a lot.

Mostly by the patriarchy. Mostly towards women. Mostly on social media.

Notice the "voice" of each. Men are condemning. Women are the condemned.

It seems these days, people like to hate on people who take Selfies for being "narcissistic, braggy, slutty, too sexy, crying out for help, seeking out validation" or sadly used as yet another way for women to judge each other.

Yes, the hatred of selfies is about misogyny. The reaction to Selfies is an eye-opening crash course in sexism, but most significantly, it teaches people (particularly girls/women) to always expect and even accept a certain degree of misogyny.

And it’s a very methodical, slow erosion of women’s sense of autonomy.

And since when is liking what you see a problem?

Comparing a woman to Narcissus - Ha! -- I doubt any woman has immediately fallen in love with their reflection so much that they’ll die to have it. For me, it took years to love and accept my body, and to unlearn everything I have ever been shown about what “beauty” is, thank you, patriarchy.

Loving yourself and feeling good about yourself is NOT a problem. The problem is that if we all start loving ourselves they won't have any more shit to sell us. 

This is sexist and misogynist. How are these two scenarios even comparable? Someone created this meme to degrade and put down women, plain and simple. We don’t know that woman’s occupation or passions in life. Who gets to decide how many photos a specific gender gets to take and for what reason? He went to the moon? She just passed her bar exam.

Girls are taught from an early age that they can only feel good about themselves through the approval of everyone else, especially men. And for some reason, if a person senses this vulnerability in women, they are taught to respond by pulling out an arsenal of shame and ridicule.

Hugely popular songs like One Directions' What makes you beautiful,  Ne-Yo's Let Me Love You, and Bruno Mars' Just the way you are romanticize self-loathing in young women as an indicator of extreme virtue. Girls who have low self-esteem are allegedly desirable because they’re vulnerable. (read: don't worry, you may not love yourself but you can find a man and HE will love you.)

And if a person is posting selfies to receive external validation, well, that's their prerogative. That's their issue to work out, and besides, seeking validation from external factors isn't exactly a new phenomenon.

People who construct all the "rules" for how you should behave are not free.  I have personally been guilty of judging the fuck out of someone's behaviour and it feels shitty being a condemner. It feels tight and it feels emotionally enslaved. In my humble opinion, true clinical narcissists running amongst us are NOT the ones posting selfies, anyways. Narcissists cause harm. Your selfies are not causing harm.

Before the modern-day Selfie you paid a guy to come to your home and paint
a portrait of yourself surrounded by all your fancy processions.

You do not have to apologize for being here, for taking up space, for believing you look and feel good today. Never feel guilty for announcing your presence. Your body belongs to you. So go ahead, honey, post your Selfie.

Woman takes Selfie. Same woman gives birth to two children.

Man-made sculptures in art history were for the male gaze. This photo had a phone Photoshopped to it and suddenly she was seen as vain and conceited. That’s why I’m 100% for selfie culture because apparently men can appreciate a women's beauty but when we realize how beautiful we are, suddenly we're a narcissistic asshole.

You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for you own pleasure.” ― John Berger, Ways of Seeing

I once heard an alternate version of the Greek myth that goes like this: Narcissus tries to embrace and kiss the beautiful mountain nymph (Echo) who confronts him in the water but Narcissus instead sees his own reflection. "Narcissus recognized himself and lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour. Narcissus rejoices in his torments: knowing at least that his own self would remain true to him, whatever happened". But hey, maybe I got it all wrong.

And now enjoy the tune where Lily echoes my sentiments exactly.

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