Sunday, March 15, 2015

Becoming a Pinup

I'm Back... 

It hasn’t been a joyous interlude since my last posting, which means here I am back on Blogger back in the same dilemma that made me take a break from Blogger, only to seek and reach my breaking point with Facebook, two breaks from which I am now taking a break. 

 Triumphant Moments

Truth is, I wonder whether life was ever a sunlit parade of triumphant moments worth documenting. Perhaps ignorance is bliss and news and evidence of other parades going on in other lives just makes standing alone under a raincloud feel that much more miserable, a misery I was perfectly content to occupy, with brief periods of rest and mild amusement, and the occasional nod from a sympathetic soul with their own lifelong companion cloud, until social media put the peer pressure on me to have something spectacular to report.

Apparently Meant to Be 

Because even though my aversion to – um, lying – leaves me no choice but to use my social media space for hard truth confessions and naked lamentation, most people use it as a way to confirm, enhance or downright fabricate the kind of life they want or hope to be living. Relationships that are established by status posts and dual selfies before anyone in the people’s lives has actually met this new person who was apparently meant to be. But hey, they’re snuggling in bed on Facebook so it must be true love. I too have occasionally indulged in lesser shameless desperate proofs of happy times. Recently I was so devastated by yet another idiotic romantic misfortune, I didn’t leave the house and only slept and ate one day’s worth in 6 days. But along the way I posted a photo in which my cat and I were grinning for the camera, so for all intents and purposes, I was fine. And I am not quite sure whether I did it for me or for my friends, to inspire myself to be that happy person, or if not, at least convince everyone else I was, which should not be, but felt at the time to be, equally, if not more important. 

Keeping Up Appearances 

Thoughts about keeping up appearances, and creating a purposeful and carefully presented reality that uses up more energy in its upkeep than gets spent on being who you actually are were much on my mind as I prepared to do this month’s installment of the self portrait project, inspired by classic pinups. In this project I have been examining images of women created by men for men, purportedly as celebrations of their beauty but ultimately a kind of eavesdropping, appropriation and manipulation of their forms and emotions for their own purposes. Pinups are about as stylized and carefully presented a form as it gets. Women dressed as sexy cowboys, mermaids, or in nothing but high heels and a hair bow are not creatures of reality, and have very little to do with unique female spirit and essence. 

  Pure and Simple

It’s cheesecake pure and simple, and it's meant to make you feel good and smile, because it is literally flat and fake and has nothing to do with reality. It’s a fantasy, it’s an ideal, but one look and you know it isn’t really desirable, available or attainable. These women aren’t going to go out and have a beer with you. They are supposed to wink over their shoulders at you from a poster and make whatever grim misery you occupy feel a little brighter and make you think – wow, so beautiful, so happy, one day maybe I will be/have that. Please note that I will not even dignify as a related art form the omnipresent mirror selfies that girls take in which they appear in near pinup poses and think this is a good way to present themselves online. It doesn’t say here I am don’t you just love me and want me? It says I spend a lot of time looking at myself in the mirror. Waiting for a guy to agree to fill up the other half of the frame. 

  Who I Am

At this juncture, I have only my cat to join me in the happy dual selfies I post on Facebook. And honestly, I am a firm believer that the true sign of a good relationship is no sign of it on Facebook. Remember the days when the first flush of romantic enthusiasm felt just a little bit scary and fragile and magical and the last thing you would want to do is go public because you were too busy going at it in private?  Fortunately for every shallow fool that declares relationships on Facebook the way most people announce they are dyeing their hair pink this week, there are those who keep it on the down low where it belongs. Who don’t force their partners into their profile pictures as if to say – here is a representation of who I am, a person who must be fabulous because I have a partner. Unfortunately it always seems to be the guys who have recently rejected me who end up in those bed selfies and shared profile pictures. This may give you a clue as to why I just finished a weeklong weepy hunger strike and self house arrest, and why there is a certain defiant, okay, maybe even bitter, tone to this writing.

New Kind of Pinup Girl 

Me, even if one day - let’s make it soon Universe okay? - I have the most amazing man in my life loving me up one side and down the other, I still think my profile picture has room for just one person, because I can fill it with my own fabulousness to the brim and overflowing, thank you very much. Because I am a new kind of pinup girl who can take her own photographs of her own highly objectified and carefully presented body wearing nothing but a bow and heels and a soupcon of irony. And I can then go and get it tattooed on me, because no one can wear me as an accessory better than I can. And if no one ever sees this tattoo, on Facebook or Blogger or anywhere else but a private moment shared off camera, that doesn’t mean it never happened, that doesn’t mean I never happened, and it will definitely be in the picture a lot longer than my ex lover's new girlfriend.


  1. Heartfelt hugs.
    I have sufficient trouble defining myself for me, and celebrating myself. I refuse to take on any more hurdles to leap, bridges to climb to define myself satisfactorily for anyone else.
    Putting myself into a box (any box) is by definition confining, and I would like (love) a life based on freedoms rather than prisons, however soft and socially acceptable.

  2. Right on, EC. I think one of the ironies of my project is that it has been so liberating for me to define - but also confine - myself as an object of art. Literally in a box. Except I am outside the box too. It's mine and no one else's. There is a strange gratification knowing that the people who accept the boxed version of me on social media are basically getting what they ask for, choosing to look no further. Their loss and my gain. My real friends go for the more expansive version, seeking out and reading my words when they exceed three lines, understanding my creations in all their complexity, and appreciating my company as a living being, not a posted photo. Their love is a form of freedom for me. Freedom to be me. Thanks for showing up in this space, my friend!

  3. Well put. I'm in the midst of a Facebook detox myself. Often it just seems to exist to show how others are having a better life than me, or to show events that I wasn't invited to, even if I know the people involved. Others lament the lack of real contact too but then don't follow up on my requests to hang out in real space.

    1. Thanks for reading Matt - it seems quite a few of my friends have either given up on FB or are more often requiring breaks to manage it properly. I still think it has its unique positive uses but unfortunately the majority of users aren't exploring these avenues and prefer it to be a shameless popularity contest - which is even more unfortunately encouraged by the FB algorithms that base the entire post delivery system on viewing patterns based on quantity not quality - not on any valid value system at all. Sigh.

  4. Peterbilt Mudflap Girl comes to mind with the first photo juxtaposition. I think most artists produce out of a truly painful place. If we just know this and accept it as part of the process, it's easier to carry on. I'm loving your self-portraits.

  5. Had to look that one up, but yes, that's right! It is a way more unnatural pose to hold than you'd imagine though it is meant to look carefree. Art is indeed born from a painful place, and the best thing is that it takes a hurt that could create a sense of defeat or victimization and instead makes it something beautiful and true and useful not just for the artist but the audience as well. It's a private healing process but one of defiance also and the message it offers is see? I turned this around and you can too! I'm glad you're loving the project, K. Thanks. Just wait until April's installment!