I spend a lot of time thinking about selfies. This is mostly because, for some reason, it's still a controversial idea to certain people that taking selfies can build body confidence and translate into self love. Personally, I take a lot of selfies. It's something I'm proud to do because for a long time, I didn't feel worthy of being seen. My little self-portraits, even if they never make it out of my camera roll, are a badge I carry that says, "I feel pretty darn good about myself today."
Unfortunately, there are still folks who are quick to accuse selfie-takers of being vain. But loving yourself without apology and showing that love through selfies — particularly when you're plus size and your body is marginalized simply for existing — is still a radical act. You're breaking barriers by going against the beauty standards that dictate that you need to change yourself in order to be beautiful or accepted.
So I wanted to celebrate the plus size beauties of all genders who break the rules just by refusing not to hide. I put a call-out via social media for people to share their favorite unapologetic selfie. My interpretation of the word was loose and open. If it was a picture of one's self, I decided that it fit the bill. And the response I received proved that finding and witnessing self love through selfies when you're plus size is truly something to behold.
"Hands down my most unapologetic selfie ever," says CharlieB. "I have struggled with accepting my fat face/neck and I'm finally moving past that. This selfie says fuck flattering; I'm a fat goddess!"
When asked what makes this her favorite selfie, blogger Briana of Mamafierce tells me, "Because it took me a looooong time to find no shame in my VBO game. It's a roll, people. It's not the end of the world. Life is too short to hide any percentage of my body."
"I don't see taking selfies as being vain," says model Kat Stroud. "For years, I hated my reflection and now I love it! The curves of my cheeks, my tiny little nose, my lips that form my unique smile — it's all me and I love it! So I will take as many selfies as I damn well please."
"Whatever my most recent selfie I've posted on social media is always my current fave," says Bridget Paris. "I give myself that loving self-acceptance as often as possible! Also, I'm wearing a bikini! My lipstick and brows look good, and I'm unapologetically showing off parts of my body that don't get a lot of love."
"All my selfies are significant," model Michelle Marie tells me. "They're about discovering self love and self appreciation. About not just posing but just being. They're about pressing 'post' even though there are flaws and imperfections. They are about celebrating ME in all my glory."
"I had never before thought I could wear such a dramatic lip color," UK-based plus blogger Natty Nikki tells me in a tweet.
"I was always told that I was dorky and/or cute," shares Sabrina Severance of Lifetime's Big Women Big Love. "And I didn't think I could ever be sexy but as I've gotten older, I realize that there's so many sides to me and I'm letting them all loose!"
"I had so many to pick from — I specialize in unapologetic selfies," plus blogger Daisy Hollands tells me via email. "But I settled on this one because I'm naked and defiant. This is my body. I'm not hiding it. I'm not ashamed of it. It's the only body I'll ever have and I nourish, nurture, and cherish it every day. I will not hide it away. Self love shouldn't be radical or unusual or 'out there' — everyone should love themselves in their entirety. This picture shows I'm at ease in my skin and in love with my body."
"That's my handsome rescue cat, Schmaltzy," Kaitlin tweets me. "Rescue is super important to me and showing images [with] my rescues helps me spread info."
"This one is the first bikini I had ever owned, let alone wore," shares blogger Lottie L'amour. "I posted this picture of me in it as a way of finally accepting my body for what it was, and the reaction I got to this photo spurred me on to become a plus size blogger. I thought if I could be made to feel this good about my fat body, then I can make other fat women feel good about theirs too. I've not looked back since, and now this is my favorite photo of me of all time. If you would have told me from two years ago that a photo of my body in a bikini would make me fall in love with my shape, I would have told you to go away — but I'm so glad I did it. It changed my life.”
"This is my favorite selfie," writes Nicole Bette. "I'm in my happy place (California Redwoods), there's nobody around, I'm wearing zero makeup, I'm OK with my PBF, and I'm at peace."
Nique says, "Self love means never having to apologize for massive zits." I co-sign to that!
"I love this selfie because one of the biggest struggles for me in ED recovery has been to not only eat in public, but eat 'moralized' foods in public," Rachel shares with me. "But on this day, I gave no fucks, kicked my feet up on an empty chair, and selfied with my cupcake in a public place. And I'm so joyful — about a Cranberry White Chocolate Cupcake and about my freedom from the shackles of disordered eating."
"Getting ready for one of my first shows," says burlesque performer Noella Deville. "It's my favorite unapologetic selfie, sitting in my little costume with my tummy out, being a glamorous fat babe."
"This is my most unapologetic selfie because I felt sexy," says model Miss Mozzy Dee. "I'm damned proud of what my Momma gave me, and I don't care what anyone has to say about it! I've come to a point in my life where I've embraced my body, its uniqueness, and individuality. I am sexy, I am curvy, and I am FIERCE."
"I did 365 Days Of Selfies and found that it gave me a lot more confidence," shares writer and activist Lola Phoenix. "So now I feel proud of all my selfies."
"I enjoy being visually insubordinate," says plus blogger Emerald Shaw of How To Be Dope. "I enjoy stepping over the threshold of respectability politics and not wiping my feet at the door. I feel like my shirt and my attitude speak to that."
"I think this one for me was a true, unapologetic moment of self appreciation," writes Becky of Mrs. Bebe Blog. "Look at my fat ass, it's glorious."
"This is for all the times people told me I couldn't wear a swimsuit because I am plus size, I look damn good in a swimsuit!"
"I love this one because I'm wearing underwear as 'outerwear' or a full outfit," says model Alexa Danger. "It's something I do fairly often, but also the photo sums up who to try to be a person: fearless, unabashed, and fun! I, and everyone, should be able to wear whatever I want whenever I want, and I'm going to do just that! Plus, it was taken after moshing the night away. There's something incredibly freeing and empowering about thrashing around all night and letting loose your inhibitions, all in underwear no less!"
"Double chin, bright outfit, happy smile! Unapologetically adorable," is what photographer/blogger Kitty Rambles A Lot shares with me about her favorite selfie.
"This one is my favorite because I look regal and fat as fuck," writes Remy. "I'm a fat hard femme queen and yes, you should kneel."
"I've always been uncomfortable with my glasses — and that I need them," shares blogger Crystal Coons of Sometimes Glam. "I've had a pair that I liked and I held on to them for years — kind of like a security blanket. But they broke recently and I had to get a new pair — huge and nerdy and I've decided to embrace that there IS a part of me that is nerdy and geeky and a Marvel fanatic and that's OK. I love this photo of me, because it's who I am: a little glam, a little nerd."
"This is my favorite because I'm being silly, have no makeup, and used my selfie stick to make this wonderful creation," says Walleska. "I appropriately captioned it 'being De Niro.' It's not a glamorous picture but this is me having fun."
"I love pushing boundaries," writes model Saucye West. "Even in my blue bikini with my beautiful bakery peeking through I don't care what people think. My body is amazing. My brown skin is mesmerizing. And I will never apologize for loving myself. Ever!"
"This is my most unapologetic selfie because I was just being silly and having fun," blogger Cynthia Ramsay Noel of Flight Of The Fat Girl tells me. "It's so important to remember not to take ourselves seriously all the time, and we owe no apologies to anyone for it!"
"Plus size, pregnant, and proud," is the reason that this selfie tops Amanda's favorites.
"Throughout school I was bullied for being ugly and fat," says model Bailey Culbreth. "I found that I was really good at taking self portraits. My parents actually bought me a digital camera and I used it for this purpose. Seeing myself in images of what I saw in myself helped me so much in seeing my self worth. I would say it's been a very influential thing in me pursuing a modeling career. People try to selfie shame me all the time. But people don't understand how hard it is to be told by general society and the people around you [that] your beauty is not validated."
"As a fat person I'm told that I'm not beautiful, as a woman I'm told that I can't think I'm beautiful, and as a member of society I'm told that I'm not allowed to be beautiful unless I meet a list of prerequisites," shares blogger Rad Fat Feminist. "As a fat woman reclaiming her body image I am telling you, unapologetically, that I am beautiful but also that I don't have to be, and either one of those things are OK."
"I <3 my body even though society tells me I'm obese and should never glorify my fatness in public," LaKeisha shares with me in a tweet.
"My unapologetic selfie is so important to me as it just shows my growth in such a short amount of time," shares blogger Nadine Danielle. "There was never a moment that I thought I would love myself, especially not to the point that I would willingly take photos of my whole body. I'm the biggest and happiest I've ever been and I love it. I love myself and my body. I'm an unapologetic fat and happy teenager, something that will not change for anyone or anything."
When asked why this was her favorite selfie, blogger Olivia of The Printed Parade says, "It's pretty much the first time I've felt confident enough to share a selfie rather than delete it straight away!"
"This picture was taken at my first fashion show," shares Tiffanie via email. "The reason it's my most unapologetic is because in this moment I felt that I was truly living my designer dream and doing what I love while wearing my own designs too."
"I completely wasn't feeling it, but a little bit of self care, and BOOM, felt like a proper sex pot and LOVED IT," writes blogger Miss Kathryn's Miss Takes.
"I guess I like it because my hair looked pretty that day," Kath of Fat Heffalump shares with me via Twitter. "People kept touching my hair and I wanted to capture the thought. Plus my lipstick was killer!"
"I love these pictures because I was feeling sassy as fuck and I feel it again whenever I look at them," shares Sophie Griffiths of Busy Little Fee. "I was also done with hiding things I am told are flaws — fluffy hair, double chin, etc. Like, 'Here I am, and I love it.'"
"It's my favorite selfie because it really shows off the horribleness of the shapewear industry and also says a lot about what plus models have to go through to get what they need," writes Aggie Panda.
"I'm always really self-conscious about posting pictures without any makeup at all (#femmeproblems), but this picture actually made me feel beautiful," says Jane. "Even with my red, uneven complexion, no lashes, and a hella cute zit on my cheek."
"I took this after we wrapped the first episode of Level Up, the video series I created and star in for Refinery29," says fashion writer and blogger Liz Black of P.S. It's Fashion. "It felt amazing to see my concept come to life and the beginning of my video career (which will hopefully continue)!"
"I've literally just uploaded a photo talking about my struggle to love my bare face at the moment," blogger Just Me Leah shares. "For me, self love is acknowledging it's a journey and honoring the crappy feelings in a healthy way. I'm sick of feeling like I *have* to be pretty. To be bare faced, unsmiling, and giving no shits is as unapologetic as I can get."
"Probably this one, I just wanted to take pride in my body, and not hide it," writes illustrator Kathryn Mallow of MurderOfGoths.
"This was the day I hiked miles alongside men that were super athletic and had no intention on waiting for me or making sure I could keep up," shares blogger nataliemeansnice. "I fell a couple times, hurt like hell, was sweaty, zero makeup, exhausted, but I wanted to prove to myself I had no limits that day. At the end of the hike, we got to see the beautiful ocean and huge rocks and I've never seen anything more beautiful than that. I was so proud of myself and in this selfie, I'm soaking it all in. I deserved that moment to celebrate."
"Most unapologetic picture would be this one," says blogger Chardline Chanel-Faiteau of Plus Size Beausion. "Right after having a cyst removed, my doctor said, 'You would look so much better without the scarring from this minor procedure. You are getting these ingrown hairs because you're big. It sucks to get them during the summer because you can't wear your arms out.' The minute I got home, bandages and all, I tried on my bathing suit and decided that SHE WAS WRONG! I'm effin dope!"
"My most unapologetic selfie because with the body positive movement, sometimes we're made to feel ashamed that we want to wear shapewear," shares Stefanie Augusteijn of SassyPlus. "Like the movement dictates that one is some sort of sell out because they may choose to wear, and feel good about themselves when wearing shapewear. Well, I feel good wearing it and that's true to me."
"This is mine," writes Kris Aldaine of Fat Babe Council. "Technically a friend took this but yeah! I love this picture, even if it isn't the most 'conventionally flattering.'"
"This is one of me on the toilet," says comedian/blogger Rachel Matheson. "My makeup is on point and taking yourself seriously is boring."
Illustrator Rachel Cateyes shares this image as her favorite saying, "Because we need to see more representation of bellies!"
"This picture and caption were for all those times I was called ugly, plain looking, too chubby," says blogger Aarti Olivia Dubey of Curves Become Her. "People giving me suggestions to add more makeup to my dark eye circles and my barely-there eyelashes. I've had growths on my eyes that needed to be operated on — the discomfort when applying and removing mascara and eyeliner now stops me from applying it often. And I've come to appreciate my unmade up face, my mismatched eyes. They are the least of my worries, I'd rather concern myself with actual issues.
"I'm round and I deserve to be happy," shares Amy Helen of Drunk Vanity.
"I love this particular recent IG selfie because while I realized at a young age that my body was a political vessel I could use for my social activism and art, it was becoming a mother that really changed my relationship to myself and helped launch me on my body positive journey," says Amy Pence-Brown. "The physical changes that come with pregnancy and motherhood are extreme — from stretch marks, swollen turned sagging breasts, dry skin, hormonal breakouts, lush hair and losing hair, extreme weight gain and loss, backaches, heartburn, pelvis bones shifting, and your heart growing too big to be contained. Not to mention the emotional and mental roller coaster of joy, fear, exhaustion, worry, excitement, concern, ignorance, and love. Creating and growing three babies was miraculous and significant in my life journey, as was miscarrying two more. Becoming a mother really solidified for me that I wanted to choose life — and live the best and happiest version of one starting right now. All my perceived imperfections are like a roadmap to this journey of mine and I love this body and the stories it tells. Even if those stories include dried snot stains on my ragged PJs and messy bathrooms with tampon boxes and bottles of bubbles and clothes tossed on the floor and a naked toddler hiding behind my thick legs that carried him into this world."
"I'm all about visibility and I think it's essential to show that your body is just a body — there's no need to demonize or embellish or hide — this is what I look alike and that's ¯\_(ツ)_/¯."
Wearing what she considers a night lip during the day is what model Caterina Moda says makes this her favorite selfie.
"Wearing no makeup and being forthright about my journey as a body image advocate: I confessed I also have the 'ugly,' 'fat,' 'not good enough' days," shares actress Dellany Peace. "I wanted to share my truth with others so people of all shapes and sizes could see how we are one in solidarity. Soon after I posted this selfie, I was contacted by a representative for the Producers Guild Of America to be in a PSA about body image. There is power in being unapologetic."
"This is my favorite because it was the most vulnerable and revealing for me to post, but also the most liberating," writes Rachel Otis of Wear Your Voice Magazine. "Subsequently, I got really positive support through participation in Margot Meanie's month-long self-love social media fest, giving me a sense of connection to soulsisters I don't know personally, but whose very existence is healing. I was also able to utilize this photo to honor my creation of the hashtag: #FuckFatPhobia and my commitment to authenticity. Fat acceptance, positivity, and liberation took me almost my entire lifetime to journey through and it's OK to be at any part of my own path and express lingering internalizations of oppression experienced."
"This is my favorite selfie because I'm so liberated and carefree," says Toni. "This is one of the first times where I showed this much skin while being out in public and I chose to do this for NYE. I wanted to start the year new and bold and be unapologetically my fat self. I wanted to feel like a fat Beyoncé, and I did!! I'm a Fat Black Girl and this all plays into my presentation of myself and my intersectionalized oppression and fatphobia in this world. And with this selfie, I felt like I slapped MY fat black girl oppression and stereotypes in the face!"
"Here is my unapologetic selfie," Jacq tells me via e-mail. "Most of my hair fell out after running away from an abusive family. Then I discovered I had a rare immune disorder, which meant it never came back. I was desperately upset about this for over 20 years; so much of what it meant to be a black woman is tied into how 'good' our hair is. Nowadays I identify as a non-binary sometimes-woman. But I still didn't feel comfy with having a bare head. I've worn headscarves for so long — in the summer it's terribly hot. And then something strange happened at a plus size clothing swap run by Kirsty Fife. I felt so comfortable there that I removed my headscarf, and I haven't put it back on since. To be able to share a pic of me with a bald head is something I never thought would happen. I'm black, queer, fat — all things I've been told are ugly. But I feel beautiful when I look at this pic."
57. Yours Truly, @readytostare
It's nearly impossible for me to pick a favorite selfie, which is something I couldn't have said only a few years ago when I was still afraid to take them. I picked this one because I look at it and I see a person who is in still in progress but has grown so much. Today, I see myself as a person worthy of love because I realize that love starts with the kind I have for myself.
I love looking through all of these selfies and reading people's responses. Selfies aren't just some Millennial fad. They're an incredibly powerful form of self love and expression.
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