Title: #feministselfie
Dimensions: 12″ x 9″
Materials: cotton thread, cotton and silk fabric, cotton batting
Techniques: free motion machine quilting, colour discharge of commercially printed fabric, hand quilting

exhibited in 2014 Queer Arts Festival community exhibition, Vancouver




personal note:

though i rarely post them online, selfies took on an important place in my life mid 2013 when i started a long distance relationship. when you don’t get to see people regularly, you naturally want pictures of them! my lover asked for photos almost daily, often specifically asking for images that i would not normally take, such as pictures without my glasses, or with my mouth open. when the hashtag #feministselfie became common, i had been thinking a lot about how my near daily selfies had affected my view of myself and changed my comfort level about different aspects of my appearance.

also, the necklace, earrings and glasses shown in the image are ones that i wore regularly for an extended period. most of my accessories have changed since then, in the year and a half since the piece was started. i especially enjoy this piece as a portrait of a specific place and time.

the commercial fabric, with women’s symbols/feminist symbols repeated throughout, is a random print that i have come across on two separate occasions (previously used here), and it seemed perfect for my selfie background. i used bleach to discharge the colour, since it originally had a black background with bright pink and purple symbols. throughout the piece i handquilted around some of the women’s symbols with 50wt aurifil cotton thread. in person they are slightly visible, less so in a photo.




artist statement

Selfies allow us to see ourselves reflected in a world that has spent decades trying to pretend that we don’t exist. Fat people, POC, queers, gender variant people, people with disabilities; when do we ever see ourselves portrayed positively in mass media? Selfies (self portraits taken with the front-facing camera on your cell phone) can be radical, empowering and revolutionary.

Selfies allow the subject/photographer to control how they are viewed – for many people, this is the first time in their lives that they’ve actually liked pictures of themselves. After years of trying to hide in group photos, resisting our relatives insistent “smile!”, selfies allow us to present ourselves to the world the way that we see ourselves most often, looking back out of the mirror.

the hashtag #feministselfie was born out of community outrage. in November 2013 a pseudo-feminist website posted a diatribe against selfies claiming that selfies were a cry for help, that people who take selfies are perpetuating a misogynistic world where women, or those viewed as women, (who take the majority of selfies) are valued only for their physical beauty – in short, it claimed that selfies were anti-feminist. 

the online community exploded with #feministselfies on twitter and thoughtful, inspiring blog posts. People posted about seeing people of their skin tone as beautiful for the first time in their lives; about seeing other masculine of centre people as attractive and realizing that they could be attractive too; about the role of selfies in their journey to body acceptance; about showing people with disabilities as full people instead of a cause to fundraise for; about portraying alternative beauty in a way that was more than conventional beauty with a few piercings or tattoos added.

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