The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies?

Last week at an apartment party in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on the North side, I whipped out my iPhone 5, told the folks at the gathering to press together, and clicked away. Simple act, happens at least a hundred times a day, and I completed the ritual by posting the picture to my instagram and linking it to my Facebook account. But, before I could put the camera away I heard a friend joke, read, throw a little shade (?) my way and say:

“Watch, tomorrow there will be like five picture of himself up there.”

Yes, guilty as charged, I am a selfie. One of those annoying people who take tons of self-pictures. Declaring to the world that I look good and you know it. This is so true that the same friend had earlier brought up the topic with me; apparently he and another friend occasionally discussed my self-pictures. My narcissism flagged alarm. But, here is the thing:

No one ever asked me, “Why do you take so many selfies?”

I mean, I am not traditionly phine, cute, or awkwardly endearing. I am fat. Daaaaaark. My nose is wide. My hair is kinky ( a biracial friend once used my hair texture to describe to a white stranger what “bad hair” is, apparently any hair that can kink up; mind you, at the time my hair was short, combed, and nap-free but I digress). My eyebrows are not plucked, and I swear my pores are visible. But this is the point.

I live in a world where this is celebrated and attainable:

from Black Men Dating Club on Facebook

 

Black Men’s Dating Group

 

I could go on, but you get the point. That is beautiful. No argument there; they may all be assembly line phine, but they are each phine.  I even fail on quirk level:

now note: I have limited the photos to black men; the reality is that in the GAYme of Trones, white boys tend to be the Lannisters (the most powerful, most often desired, and the ones most likely to toss their beauty privilege around), but I just figured for once we could focus on just us. 

I take my selfies because I am that guy who, unless he takes the picture or suggests it, doesn’t get his picture taken. My friend who asked, truthfully had very little right to judge; everyone takes pictures of him, with him, and for him. The same is true of almost all my friends. I live in a world where I didn’t hear someone romantically call me beautiful and desirable till I was 26. I live in a world where either body privilege or race privilege is always against me. So I point my camera at my face, most often when I am alone, and possibly bored, and I click; I upload it to instagram, and I hold my breath because the world is cruel and I am what some would call ugly, but I don’t see it. At first I clicked so I could see what others saw, but I don’t. So now I click and post and breathe, waiting for others to see what I see: beautiful dark skin, Afrika’s son, a dream un-deferred, pretty eyes,and nice lips, and a nose that fits my face; I want them, you, to see that I am human, and there is a reason why I got to this size, but I owe you no explanation or justification for any part of my existence  I owe you no explanation or justification for my smile or my swag or my selfie. Hell I didn’t even owe you this.

Like I said, I owe you nothing, but I owe myself everything.

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165 thoughts on “The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies?

  1. m says:

    I am a white girl and therefore do not have the exact same privilege issues, however I found self portraits to be cathartic, and healing, and very much something I did for myself and that taught me a lot about loving myself and my body. I understand how it’s not about narcissism and your self portraits are lovely! They each evoke and show such a range of emotion and a definite human life and spark that is beautiful! Please keep taking self portraits and please keep sharing them! They are inspiring and beautiful especially because it brings you joy also!

  2. Kadijah James says:

    That was awesome! Beautifully and soulfully written! Thank you for voicing what so many of us need to hear!!!

  3. You make me want to take some of my own Selfies!! Thank you!

  4. MzMarbles says:

    Thank you for this. Bang on.

  5. Jae says:

    I came across your blog by way of a link on a friend’s Facebook page. Just wanted to say I definitely know where you’re coming from with respect to body privilege and photos. Also, I think you’re incredibly attractive :)

  6. Thank you so much for this. I hate taking ‘selfies’ because I seem to find something new that is wrong with me in every picture. I don’t like how I look and when I see the camera, I typically go the other direction. But your post has enlightened me. Thank you again. I absolutely love your pictures. Each one made me smile.

    • blaqueer says:

      thank you. I am thinking about submitting the post to Huffington

      • spirithand says:

        Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes – please submit and share your intimate, powerful, and important story with the world.

        Keep shining your beautiful you <3

      • spirithand says:

        Viewing your self portraits made me smile and warmed my heart. Thank you for this.

      • cassdawn says:

        do you know why you are unfazed by what you “should” see? (i put that in quotations btw because i don’t get it – i think you’re cute). that question isn’t snark – it would just be something interesting to include if you did submit it. cuz i’m sure there are many many people out there (none of whom are me i assure you /sarc/) that would love to know how to not hate the sight of themselves in a pic.

  7. […] this post, titled “The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies?,” originally appeared on my blog BlaQueer and on The Good Men Project. Last week I engaged in my weekly […]

  8. […] this post, titled “The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies?,” originally appeared on my blog BlaQueer and on The Good Men Project. Last week I engaged in my weekly […]

  9. […] this post, titled “The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies?,” originally appeared on my blog BlaQueer and on The Good Men Project. Last week I engaged in my weekly […]

  10. Lola says:

    Loved the entire read!!! Keep your head up! You are booti-ful!

  11. […] this post, titled “The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies?,” originally appeared on my blog BlaQueer and on The Good Men Project. Last week I engaged in my weekly […]

  12. MaryJane says:

    I was just thinking about this sort of thing yesterday. I’ve learned how to angle the camera so I feel better about how I look in pictures but no one else understands. I always have to take my own pictures of myself or with people. And if I want a picture for social media then basically it has to be one I’ve taken because other people don’t think about it when they take pictures with me in them. I try to take pictures where everyone looks & feels comfortable or I don’t post them. Like you said, “I take my selfies because I am that guy who, unless he takes the picture or suggests it, doesn’t get his picture taken.” My mom once said “You sure like to take pictures of yourself.” I replied, “No, I just have to take a lot to get 1 that is even ok.” So when I go on trips I either have to take my own pics of myself at places or I just have pictures of places. It makes me sad that people don’t want to encourage others & make them feel loved. Thank you for writing this.

  13. William says:

    people try to justify everything these days…whoredom, obesity, vanity, perversion, with little intellectual articles on their blog…nobody cares ugly or pretty to many selfies are fucking annoying bottomline, and ‘if you don’t owe anybody anything’ delete all your followers and just follow yourself

    • blaqueer says:

      I guess that is one position to have; it is just one I reject. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Angel says:

      Whoredom? Check. Obesity? Check. Vanity? Check. Perversity? Check. Not giving fuck about your opinion of any of those qualities or any others I possess? Priceless. Go on with your bad selfies. I personally find other outlets for that urge, but selfies just fine too. PS I don’t see the negative in the above list. All things that don’t cause harm to others and are therefore none of your damn business.

  14. […] 敬愛し、フォローさせて頂いているツイッタラーのキャシーさん の紹介による、とあるアフリカ系アメリカ人男性の”自撮り”についての記事がとても心に刺さったので紹介したいと思います。 […]

  15. […] wrote about my reasons for taking a selfie on my blog Blaqueer in a “Fat Boi Diaries” piece and I received an overwhelming response of support for my selfies — support I never asked for […]

  16. […] wrote about my reasons for taking a selfie on my blog Blaqueer in a “Fat Boi Diaries” piece and I received an overwhelming response of support for my selfies — support I never asked for […]

  17. […] wrote about my reasons for taking a selfie on my blog Blaqueer in a “Fat Boi Diaries” piece and I received an overwhelming response of support for my selfies — support I never asked for […]

  18. […] them online is allowing people to take a greater ownership and acceptance of their own image. This blog tells the personal story of one person using selfies as a way of showing himself that he too has […]

  19. NaturalChica says:

    That just made me smile:-) Rock your beauty handsome:-) Loving the hair as well!!

  20. […] The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies? from Blaqueer. He’s so beautiful, and what he has to say is so […]

  21. […] The Fat Boi Diaries: Why Selfies? – Blaqueer. I don’t take a lot of selfies, but I do know that there’s a bit of backlash going on against selfies. I particularly liked this part of the piece because I find it true for myself: […]

  22. Nick Chu says:

    You’re radiant!!! You shine in text and in photo :) And this part–“I have limited the photos to black men; the reality is that in the GAYme of Trones, white boys tend to be the Lannisters (the most powerful, most often desired, and the ones most likely to toss their beauty privilege around), but I just figured for once we could focus on just us.” Slow clap.

    Keep being you.

  23. […] more here, here, here and here for some rich commentary on selfies, representation, authorship, and bodies […]

  24. Forty Ounce says:

    Reblogged this on milk & honey ~ geeks & gangstas and commented:
    Hello sweet babies. I haven’t written in a long while because I’ve been working on putting some other projects together, but this post was so inspiring and spot on, I had to force its truth down your sexy little throats.

    Self-love. “I owe you nothing, but I owe myself everything.”

    Preach.

    And I’m not gonna lie, wishing I were his type right about now. MmHmmm.

  25. F says:

    I have just found this wonderful post via Son of Baldwin on Facebook.

    For me selfies are a way of associating my soul with my corporeal self, which can be both a scary and grounding thing. Some days, my selfies feel political, in that they deliberately emphasise aspects of me which sit outside beauty ‘norms’. Other days, I simply take them because I like how they look. The message that this piece drives home for me is that, regardless of what they are ‘for’ (in fact, they do not need to be ‘for’ anything) – they are mine, I like them, and that is valid. Thank you so much for sharing, and providing an amazing example to us all.

  26. Reblogged this on Called to be Relentless and commented:
    This unrestrained spirit, celebrating his freedom through stunning selfies, is Everything.

  27. Joanne says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I am a white, Queer, middle-class, female-identified Jew. And despite the various privileges I own, I have wrestled each day since I was 7 with the “unacceptability” of my body; my embodied self.

    I take a selfies too; so that I can smile at myself, so that I can capture that smile, so I can be proud of my body/face/beauty, and so that I can reclaim the self-love people began taking from me over two decades ago.

    Thank you for giving voice to us with your story.

  28. I loved this! “but I owe you no explanation or justification for any part of my existence” Fuck yes! I loved that, so true. Great post.

  29. Regina says:

    I agree that you owe no one any explanations. Narcissism is bad, but to assume that this is your beingness is an assumption. Perhaps even an assumption of sameness from your friend(s). What I mean by an assumption of sameness is that, if they were to do the same thing that it would come from a beingness of narcissism.

    If other African Americans think that you are ugly or unattractive for having African features then you know that you are dealing with someone who has a lot of self hatred. They have been brainwashed into thinking that there is an ideal of beauty and that ideal is “closer” to White features. They are unwell and you may want to limit your consumption of people and things (television, media, etc.) who/that have this perspective.

    Be healthy, ensure your weight does not place you into any danger zones for illness, dis-ease or disease and that you are living in such a way to have a long, happy life.

    Last thought, I like your eyes and your smile with teeth. You have strikingly beautiful eyes and maybe wearing contacts sometimes would be nice so we can see you seeing us. And your photos with your teeth showing really brighten up a room! You are handsome, indeed.

    Be well. Be happy. Be you.

    Namaste.

  30. […] excellent and heartbreaking and defiant piece talks about the power of the selfie to let those bodies who aren’t normally celebrated in […]

  31. Ronald says:

    I needed / loved this. YOU told my story!

  32. Sophia A says:

    A beautiful soul inside a beautiful human embodiment. Go you. <3

  33. Treniece says:

    You are a beautiful person :)

  34. […] posted to social media, sexy or not) are simply a way to take back the homogenous media and celebrate a variety of bodies and looks. Plenty of women have found solace in other women’s selfies, which they say have helped them […]

  35. […] is author of this blog and this amazing post on selfies and why he takes […]

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