I could never find myself in a photo…

The stigma thrust upon Indigenous women by the media makes it impossible for me to fully identify myself in a self-portrait. There are so many faces in the media that look like mine. The violence against Indigenous women is so prevalent, the stereotypes so demeaning, the sexualization so permissive that it impossible for me to find myself in a photo.

The stigma thrust upon Indigenous women by the media makes it impossible for me to fully identify myself in a self-portrait. There are so many faces in the media that look like mine. The violence against Indigenous women is so prevalent, the stereotypes so demeaning, the sexualization so permissive that it impossible for me to find myself in a photo.

Media has an impact on how we perceive ourselves.

I started my journey as a fat positive, middle-aged, female challenging the media standard of beauty with a camera, a home studio and a commitment to diversity. Far from the beauty norm I strived to emulate the beauty in magazines, film and music videos. I photographed myself with flowing fabric, lots of sparkly things, jewels and flowers

As I became more comfortable with my body I shot several series of artistic nudes. This led to an understanding of a wide spectrum of nudity and stereotype in the media. I was not simply a nude woman on the Internet; I was a nude Indigenous woman on the Internet. I experienced a very specific type of cyber violence filled with racial slurs and a perceived colonial entitlement to my body. I learned to use my Indigenous body to resist media and state crimes committed against the Indigenous body. I took what I believed to be a brave stance and I still felt separated from myself.

Resisting the stereotypes attached to Indigenous women in my photographs was helpful. However the stigma thrust upon Indigenous women by the media makes it impossible for me to fully identify myself in a self-portrait. There are so many faces in the media that look like mine. The violence against Indigenous women is so prevalent, the stereotypes so demeaning, the sexualization so permissive that it impossible for me to find myself in a photo.

I had to create a safe space to heal so I learned to paint. I relocate my Indigenous body in paintings where my mind and body is unfettered with the social construct of the “Indigenous” woman. Thankfully, I  can see myself in my paintings.

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