These ALA throwbacks have actually taught me a lot. The most important lesson is that not everybody looks at these pictures the same way. I mean how can we? While some people laughed their heads off at those pictures, others felt a little uneasy at the regurgitation of their past. For some it was about the instant reaction from the quick images and for others, it was an insightful reflection into the past periods they had been through. For the quick ones, the comments were hilarious but for those deep in retrospect they must have had a painful feel to it because it reminded us-easily-of feelings that people had towards our being when the only access they had to us was what they saw. Like a Facebook picture, some people could only remember us by recalling how they laughed at us from a distance or watching us strike that pose at the moment we took those pictures.
“NERD” “RAZZ” “SKINNY” “HUNGRY” “COOL” “UNCOOL” “YOUR HAIR IS WAY TOO OILY” “UNCOOL” “THE GIRL WITH THE FLOWER PICTURE” “UNCOOL”.
Back then, those were words that preceded unkind acts of seclusion and exclusion. Now, the people that share the same reactions to the same pictures of friends we love and teachers we equally love say those things in laughter because they remember how they carried those same burdens growing up in a world that makes differences sub-par to normality. I speak for myself when I use the word “they” because back then, I never would have put up a picture I thought was “uncool.” I did not want anyone to comment if it was not about how “hot” I was or at least, a simple like (which translated as a wink). Even yesterday, when I got the first notification to my flower picture, I laughed but quickly changed the settings to “only me” because I feared others would read the blatant UNCOOL and re-categorize me as sub par…regardless of what I am now.
And then I thought,, “What I am now..or what I look like now?” After all my years of Lacan and Butler why would I still fall prey to the substitution of a few attributes (e.g hair & teeth) as the exact definition of what I am?
I never WAS the 2010 profile picture. I AM not the 2014 profile picture.
Indeed, those pictures revealed my features and physical attributes that carry social implications that I did not define. So, why should I be bothered that someone thinks my clothes make me uncool or my hair makes me look poor or my teeth make me look nerdy. Your way of looking at me is definitely not aligned with my intention of myself therefore the power you think you have over me is not reaffirmed for i feel no feelings of subjugation to you.
If I do not accept that my nose is ugly your laughter has no power over me.
You know that moment where someone keeps laughing at a joke no one gets and everyone is asking “Is this one mad?”…YES! Treat them just like that and you won’t be the ugly one; he/she will be the “mad” one
Though this is true, we must never forget that the perceptions of those with legitimate power are the primary motivators for discriminatory rules that restrict difference. And this, brothers and sisters, is strong reason to take power of such differences by resisting efforts that criticize rather than play with our various ideals of beauty.
Is it not funny that when you posed beside that table, or when I inserted a frame of flowers into my picture in 2010 I believed I was beautiful enough to make it my profile picture?
I definitely believed it showed something I wanted people to see. This is not to say that it was inspired by internal pride in myself over a desire for social acceptance. STILL…I must remember that I posted it because I believed it sent a message that I wanted to share to my Facebook friends.
And with these questions in mind, I chose to laugh at myself rather than carry the “shame” in my old pictures and those hilarious comments.
You know, there is also a thin line between tragedy and comedy.
The tragedy of my past filled with hurt and loneliness has been replaced with LMAAOOO! WHAT THE HELL? DID I REALLY THINK FLOWERS WOULD GET ME MORE LIKES? ….
….WAS I THAT DESPERATE TO BE SOMEONE ANYONE COULD LIKE?…had I hit rock bottom that my last resort was some digital form of validation?
Thinking of these made me understand how foolish it is for anyone to spend hours editing a picture when in 3-5 years, we will all be rolling on the floor asking ourselves what I was thinking when I knelt down to strike a pose!
I must add that these comments come from a group of people who have always shown me the utmost respect and consideration. Thus, I wholeheartedly laugh at their abilities to draw comparisons I never thought of. I mean Aniekeme’s comment on my picture was pretty amazing.
He compared my face, hidden behind a bush of flowers, to a fruit in my father’s garden that he had come to pluck!
These are kids that have gone through the toughest times as some kind of subpar. Honestly, only a few others can say they have felt discrimination or lack of normalcy on the level most ALA students have felt. So, if they can see triggers of their past in your pictures, and find a reason to laugh, should you not forget about your self for that one minute and appreciate that someone dying of a terminal illness, or losing a sibling chooses to laugh at his/her past through you?
Of course that point seems irrational, but I would like to share something.
The truth behind the flower picture is that I never liked showing my full face (*gasp*) and I took a picture that did that. I always grasped on to the opportunity to show as little of myself in pictures as possible. So, when I found the flower frame in a new photo edit app I discovered, I was excited because it covered up a whole lot of my face.
So, when I saw Timoni and Olaotan’s HILARIOUS interpretations of the side parting, I could not help but fall down with laughter because I saw myself beneath every single picture. I saw myself hiding behind as much “base” as possible because I thought my face was too this or my forehead was too that. So thank you guys, for helping me realize how stupid it was to admire an idea of beauty that lived in as little of me as possible. Can you imagine that I really thought less me = more beautiful?
I write this because someone brought up the idea of snide comments and I just could not see it anywhere. I just could not see how so much laughter generated from victims and spectators of the throwback could be snide.
Of course, laughter has always been a tool of death..social death. However, in this case, with the people I laughed with…I felt safe to laugh at myself with people who understand both the terror of the past and the ridicule of the picture. If anything, I think this should teach us that the picture and the period or the image and the experience are not synonymous.
Also, laughter is good. Identify who you can laugh with and do it more often so you feel like, even in times of fear, there are people that will make you feel better by reminding you that it is not so scary after all. The real threat is when people who get laughed at do not have the right to laugh at the joke or the joker. But I feel so much love from these same people who point and laugh; they are the same ones who tell me that bad hair day or those thick glasses will never define who I will understand when I reflect on myself. Actually, how I think about them will. The more we understand that, the more we can let go of the subjective interpretation of our features and look into how we want to use the attribute-in its most objective form-to understand our essence rather than simply existing as a social “yay” or “nay”.