In a park in Denver, I thought about photography, and male photographers telling female models what to do with their bodies. It’s what every girl secretly wants: to be dolled up and told how to look beautiful, to have someone make her look like the pictures in the magazines. Photoshoots are an indulgence of vanity, a chance to prove that yes, I am beautiful. Quinceañeras, senior portraits, engagements, weddings: a chance to put our carefully crafted femininity on display.
I don’t know what I have to say about all of this. It’s complicated, patriarchy deeply embedded in each pose, but it’s also empowering, for a woman to feel beautiful, appreciated, acknowledged. Living up to our society’s idea of beautiful takes a lot of work, which is one of the reasons I think we need to stop shaming women for taking selfies. Even the word “selfie” is loaded. When did we stop calling them self-portraits? Where do we draw the line between self-indulgent selfie and self-reflective self-portrait?
I don’t have answers or solutions or even conclusions, but I know that I am not ashamed to take pictures of myself. I am worthy of a photograph.