A year ago, my pal Veronica Arreola invited anyone and everyone who was up for it to participate in her #365feministselfie project. The rules were simple: Post a picture of yourself every day for a year. I decided to accept the challenge, for a lot of reasons, not least of which just because I wanted to see if I could stick with it for a whole year. Which I did—huzzah!

I wasn't sure what I would take away from participating in the project when I started. After many years of posting occasional pictures of myself online, I knew that there would be positives and negatives: I expected that my pictures would sometimes be mocked and misused, which they were, and I hoped that my willingness to be a visible fat woman would be meaningful to some people, which it was, and I anticipated that taking selfies would serve to give me a better relationship with photos of myself, which it did.

What I didn't expect was just how much the project would make me feel even more comfortable in my own skin. How much more visible it made me to myself.

Part of my agreement with myself, when embarking on this project, was that I would not assess my own pictures with negative judgments I would never in a million years wield against another person.

With that resolve, I saw pictures of myself in a new way. I saw them through ever gentler eyes as the year went on. Without the filter of judgment my culture exhorts me to use, using the standards of love and acceptance I would extend to any other person, photos of myself actually looked different to me. Literally different. I saw myself in a way I had never seen myself before. It was a genuine revelation.

Even before the year began, I understood and appreciated the value of taking pictures of oneself in order to facilitate a realistic (and lovable!) self-image. But sitting inside of that, every day, challenging myself and resolving again each day to look at myself with love and acceptance, turned out to be a genuinely radical act.

I am radically changed.

We are taught to be afraid of seeing ourselves as we really are, but it is only really looking at ourselves that we see our true selves, and not a self onto which we project narratives of hatred and shame as we quickly look away from a photo, from the mirror.

I don't see things I want to change when I see a picture of myself anymore. I see only the things that are, and I am sublimely okay with those things.

(I mean, I still hate it when I have a zit, but I'm not going to beat myself up about that one too much!)

[Video compiling all 365 photos, set to instrumental music.]

Looking over the year in photos, I was also keenly aware of the spaces in which I felt comfortable documenting my life, and those which I wanted to keep private. These weren't conscious decisions at the time, but I see the ways in which even certain parts of my home are spaces that feel too intimate for me to casually document in a way that invites strangers inside.

And there were a lot of meaningful activities that aren't represented, often because I didn't want to share that part of my life with strangers. A #365feministselfie project just for me would have looked somewhat different from this one.

I notice, too, that my female friends are (unsurprisingly) more reluctant to have their photos posted on the internet. Were it not for the pictures with my friend Ari, one might imagine I have no female friends at all! That is, of course, not a criticism of my female friends, but a bitter commentary on the nature of women's feelings of safety online. Or lack thereof.

Mostly, I appear happy and/or content in most of the images, which is a fair representation of my disposition, but there are also photos of me sad, angry, crying, in pain, ill. I will say that I felt much less comfortable documenting negative emotions than positive ones, which isn't surprising. There were no instances, however, when I felt upset and feigned something else for a selfie; I mostly just tended to think about taking selfies when I was feeling okay.

Other random observations: There are selfies taken in five states over the course of the year—Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Maryland. There are lots of hats! And shoes. And it wouldn't be entirely unfair to suggest that the title of this collection of photos might reasonably be: Fat Lady with Increasingly Untamable Hair, lol.

Anyway! My thanks to Veronica for challenging me to participate in this amazing project. Which, by the way, continues this year, for anyone who wants to take part. In case it isn't abundantly obvious, I highly recommend it.

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