Selfie Culture by Mary

The culture of the selfie and the modern self portraiture (social media can be included in this as well) is a game of cropping. The best and most exciting highlights are shared, and the lows and banal are ignored or cut out. There are a lot of powerful arguments to be made regarding the empowerment of the selfie, and I don’t want to deny that. But I know that on a personal level for a lot of people, myself included, life can feel distorted when you only show part of the truth. And then you add a filter it.

I wanted to my self portrait to be a whole version of me, but what I made was still photos of me trying to look nice. So I decided to focus on what gets cropped out. What is it that I try to hide? Skin, awkward poses, blemishes, feet, a dirty bedroom. This is me. No hip-popped poses to showcase my waist. No shoulders-up cropping to hide the hips. No filters to wash out the imperfections on my skin. This is me. Slouched, stretch-marked, real life. Probably watching Netflix on my bed before I go tackle that medical bill I should have already payed, or something else I’d never tweet about.

No poses. Just me.

Mary Gruben



Amanda: First off, really want to encourage and commend you on releasing an image that is so open & vulnerable to the group & the rest of the public. I’m so impressed by your desire to delve deep into this self-portrait and to not only reflect, but act on it! The image itself is striking and definitely makes the viewer take a step back to evaluate what aspects of our body we crop. I think this would have been extremely fascinating to see as a series of photos & perhaps close ups of the specific areas that you are usually too nervous to show. The pose for this image was very thoughtful – the skin certainly shows the bravery but at the same time the hand shows the nervousness, the intimateness of the photograph. Beautiful job!

Beatrice: A really interesting shot with a lot of meaning behind it. I really love the idea of “just me and my imperfections” for a self portrait and even considered using that idea for my own shot but wasn’t sure how to execute it. You did a great job however. Your shot is really vulnerability at its finest! I actually like the lighting in the shot – it really conveys one of those days when you’re bumming around at home with the blinds closed, watching TV for hours. I think it would be interesting to have the shot show a little more of the your other leg and the room – it could add some more context.

Fernando: To be honest, it took me a while to understand your picture – I guess I’m just not used to seeing a self portrait from such a perspective, which considering your objective when taking this picture, I have to say it fulfilled your objective very well! This picture, raw and honest as it is, really shows you in a way that the conventional selfies (and conventional pictures in general) would not. I was glad to see the change. However, I would have also liked to see a composition that flowed more, that would keep the viewer’s eyes jumping around the image – although I admit this is probably not a good suggestion because I have no idea myself how you would manage to do that without compromising the way you wanted to portray yourself at least a little, so let this just be a thought out there.

Horn: This self portrait says a lot about your thinking and especially on how you accept your body. Today, it is difficult for a woman to accept her own body to publish full representation. I think you have a lot of courage and it’s really good!

Jessica: You have definitely made a very vulnerable, truthful, and therefore powerful statement with the way that you have chosen to depict yourself. I sense in it a frustration at the deleterious effects of the media, which I also very strongly identify with. I admire the way that you were able to confront the issue head on- the way that you were able to say screw it, I’m above this. The sense of defiance I see in your self-portrait makes it truly beautiful in my eyes.

Maya: Mary — LOVED your concept for this whole project. Especially as a woman, I think it’s important to examine self image and public criticism within our heads, as well as others. I think that this image is incredibly powerful due to its twist of unconventional angles. I think it’s great, and empowering, and helps everyone take a step towards not being so shocked when they see a woman’s body in such a natural context.

Stephen: Completely different outlook on the selfie front. Really shows how we are subject to presenting our perfect lives. I like the idea that you were just watching Netflix. Never seen that Instagram selfie in front of their laptop. The image is a little dark – it could represent a “behind closed curtains” feel. But it would have been nice to have a natural light source coming in. A sense of an outside world.
But really well presented photo with some very though provoking ideas of what a selfie does actually represent!

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