Reflections, Self-Portraits and Selfies

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Every so often, I look at my website analytics because I'm interested in which photos appeal most to people, and which blog posts are doing well. It turns out that my most-read blog post to date is "On Selfies: The Modern Day Self-Portrait, Female Empowerment & Beauty." I wrote it in 2014, as I was getting more serious about photography and selfie culture was exploding. After seeing this statistic, I almost deleted the post. Was talking about my own selfies more interesting to my readers than seeing my photographic work? Are women more interesting to people when they talk about beauty? 

But before I spiraled down a rabbit hole of questions, and pressed 'Delete,' I changed my mind. My thoughts, feelings and anxieties around beauty, vanity, body image, aging and our obsession with youth continue to preoccupy me, as much as I don't want to admit that. Maybe it makes me a 'bad feminist' to think so much about these things, but it's almost impossible not to given the toxic level of messaging around we receive on those issues and the daily pressure to look young and flawless.

I'm turning 35 in a few weeks, and I can say that I have earned my face, for better or worse. Sun, stress, late nights, too much wine, much laughter, tears, teenage acne, bouts of insomnia. It's all there. Embarking on my Reflected project using mirrors hasn't helped, as I inevitably catch glimpses of myself that I don't like and immediately put down the mirror. But I try to fight my harsh criticisms, as I remember there is an entire industry built upon women's insecurities and self-loathing, and I don't want to give into that. So I'll leave up my post about selfies, I'll continue to project with mirrors, and I'll work hard on being kinder to myself.

Erica Reade