Have I mentioned before how what we see in media — on the screens, in the magazines, in images both moving and still — is representative of only about five percent of what our population actually looks like? That means that 95 percent of us don’t often see ourselves in what’s presented to our eyes. We’re taller, shorter, bigger, slighter, with longer torsos, with longer legs, with shorter necks, with bigger feet, with chubbier cheeks. We’re diverse. And we’re suffering from our own erasure.
This does not mean that the five percent we see is bad. It does mean that they’re not representative of us. If we can find ourselves in them, great. If we can’t, what do we do?
We need to look elsewhere. And I recommend Instagram. Instagram is an app that you can install on your smartphone or, if you don’t have a smartphone, you can go to Instagram.com and join it via its website. What you have there is a collection of self-taken and self-published photos of people. Selfies. Fashion shoots. Promotional photos for items of clothing we don’t often see in the five percent of the population’s images that surround us. It’s a grassroots way of finding ourselves as well as showing off who we are. Fighting our own erasure. I recommend joining it and then searching for people you want to surround yourself with; once I found people who look like me, my whole way of seeing changed. My Instagram feed became empowering.
Need suggestions for who to follow? Here are a handful of options…and then have fun exploring the wide world of Instagram. Take pictures of yourself to add to the array of beauty out there. Show off your personal style. Be present and expand the five percent to become more like 10 percent. To include you. Us.
With you and with power,
Harnaam Kaur: bearded dame, body confidence activist, @harnaamkaur
Bear Skn: comfortable underwear for brawny men (founded by former Minneapolites Bjorn Ryan-Gorman and his partner Jody Koenig), @bear_skn
Beth Ditto: “fat, lesbian feminist” with her own clothing line, @marybethditto
The Invisible Tomboy: promoting and encouraging the gentlewoman/mxn tomboy, @theinvisibletomboy