When I point the screen at my face & invert the camera lens, I photograph, frame, see & am myself, simultaneously.
I used to point the camera into the mirror & capture myself behind the flash, a instantaneous burst of light.
A timeline of the Selfie:
2005: MySpace is acquired by NewsCorporation & becomes the first biggest social networking site.
2009: Facebook kills MySpace.
2010: Apple releases iPhone with front-facing camera, & Instagram becomes a thing.
2013: Selfie added to the OED.
2017: I take selfies once a week until the end of the year, & then I write this:
When I moved here, to Miami, in my yellow car filled with books & pets, to study poetry, I did not think about the sun. In the midwest, I had spent more than half my life in the nightfall of after school. The darkness of high school seemed never ending. I loved my freckles & watched them bloom & then disappear until my face looked as spotty as the moon’s.
Now: I love how the Florida sun makes me glow like I’m made of light. I love the way natural light smooths my skin & makes me look illuminated. Skin does drink in the sun, a perceptible photosynthesis. I love to sleep in, to stretch in the last slow mornings of my late 20’s.
I am not a symmetrical woman. I was born with an enormous bruise on the left side of my face. I’m left handed (no surprises there). The left side of my body is bigger than my right, internally and externally. My feet could wear different sized shoes. But the world expects symmetry, so it’s always one shoe a little too big or small, one sleeve a little tighter or looser, one breast a little misplaced in its cup. Or, I don’t wear anything, and contend with nakedness.
How do you feel about your naked body? How do you fit into the clothes you wear? What’s the difference between grooming & pampering? What do you see when you look at yourself?
This is my writing hand. My nails are painted Sally Hansen Lilac & cracked at the bed. My thumb aches from the weight of the remaining fragment of an acrylic applied professionally & yet sloppily maintained since October. Below my fingers, my hand is obscured with a mint blue cardigan (the words Problem Child are embroidered in cursive & white on the back). This, too, is a portrait of myself.
I am starting to think the composition of a selfie is synchronicity. It is the only time the image’s creator is the subject, maker, & audience, often simultaneously, at the moment of capture, pressing the screen’s shutter circle, the camera lens reflecting the lens of our eyes.
A painter looks away from the canvas again & again. We call this process. I have no talent for this kind of imagery, but I love to fill the blank spaces of my inner arms with swatches of cosmetics. I love that word, cosme. Glitter, pastel, shimmer, mauves, purples, golds and metallic. I want to turn my moon face into another planet. I want to make a record of my existence as small as a memory. I write into screens what I thought of carving into stone. I am not interested in that form obligation. I am interested in a record that lives as a body lives, & so, too, will be forgotten.