Okay, I write on the internet daily. And that means not everyone likes me. Some people love me. Some people hate me. *Cue Lion King* IT’S THE CIIIIRCLE OF LIIIIIIIFE!
I signed up for this and knew enough about internet culture to understand I was opening myself up to constant criticism. And frankly, most days it doesn’t bother me. I’m not a journalist. I’m not bringing you hard hitting news. I get that. I know that. I’m just a girl sharing stuff. Sometimes, it’s silly and weird. Sometimes, it’s my heart.
I’ve heard EVERYTHING you can imagine. *Trigger Warning* — I’ve received a few rape threats. And the sickest part is that it doesn’t really bother me. Well, that’s not quite right. It does. It’s upsetting and gross. But it doesn’t surprise me. It never does.
I post a lot of pictures of myself for photos on articles. I do it for a few reasons —
1) Stock photos are reused again and again. You see the same commercially allowed photo floating around numerous articles and websites. It just happens. So if I can try and stick a little originality in, I’m going to.
2) I’m not afraid to show my face. Some people are very private and keep a level of anonymity on the internet. I understand and respect that. But that’s not how I want to run my career or life. I like a level of connection – of people getting to see who they are reading. I would post YouTube videos when I was 14. I’m not shy with letting people see me be weird or ridiculous. I won’t ever pretend I don’t enjoy the spotlight, because I do. That’s something I always loved about the internet. It was the perfect place to embrace my love of performing, while also serving my true introverted nature. I get exhausted by being around a lot of people and need so much time to recharge. But the internet? I can put on a show without ever having human contact. I mean, is that an issue of mine to work out? Lolz maybe. But I digress.
3) I don’t do it for you to tell me I’m pretty or I’m ugly. Your opinion of my physical appearance means very little. That sounds harsh, right? It’s not that I don’t care about you. Because I care a GROSSSS amount about my readers and fans. If I could drink some nasty-ass potion every single day that enabled everyone to like me and be my friend, I’d do it. I feed off happiness and positivity. So why wouldn’t I want everyone to be my buddy? But the way you feel about my face or body, or whatever, doesn’t really change my life. I’m down to post a picture where I think I look fly, nails did (not really, I play guitar and pick off my nails until they bleed – OOPS), hair did, everything done. But I’ll also do a Vine where I have dark circles under my eyes and scars on my back from healing acne. There are times I feel gorgeous. And there are times I feel like a troll hanging out under a bridge waiting for someone to ask me to prom. I think most of us struggle with that.
And then I got this comment, and for the first time in a while, a comment really made me sad.
I tried to just forget it and go back to binge watching Buffy episodes. But for some reason, I couldn’t. Was it because she was right? Was I becoming too self-obsessed and turning into some asshole that should be shipped to a deserted island to think about what an asshole she’s become? Or was I upset that, somehow, my decision to post pictures of myself changed her opinion of my writing? Was I expected to be this meek little stereotype of a writer? Ahh, yes! MY WORDS! All I need are MY WORDS! Did it upset her that, in addition to being a writer, I also was comfortable in my own skin? That my physical appearance didn’t add or detract to my other skills?
It feels like we’re always asking people, especially women, to choose one thing. We will champion independence and intelligence, but condemn those who want to also take selfies. It’s not a one-way road. That’s the entire point of empowerment — that you are allowed to LOVE yourself. All of it. I don’t always love myself. I have a lot of insecurities that I deal with, like any other human being. But I won’t ever be apologetic for being unafraid to show my face, to say, “Hey! This is me!”
I’m sorry if you expect me to walk around as this perpetually humbled creature just so grateful that anyone looks my way. I don’t need permission to be happy with who I am. Because so often, I’m not. Why ask me to shut myself in even more? When this is something I’m comfortable sharing? I want people to know me. I want my readers to have some sort of visual clue that, Oh, that’s Ari Eastman! I’m making it easier for you! If you hate me, you don’t even have to click!!! I’M HELPING YOU SAVE TIME, BABES!
I don’t know. Maybe I’m overreacting. Or maybe I’m not. I just don’t think it’s fair to ever ask someone to choose to be only one thing. I know I can’t do that. So I won’t.