Last week, multiple articles were released regarding women in outdoor social media, the topic usually involving how we appear. Sometimes we’re beautiful with nice hair and a full face of make up. Sometimes we’re beautiful with wild hair, no make up and a little bit of blood and dirt. Sometimes we’re just straight up covered in blood, mud, and beer- which we may or may not look objectively beautiful in. None of these make us more or less feminine. So what does it mean to be authentically feminine in the outdoor community? I don’t know. I constantly go back and forth between wanting to cover up my entire body in twenty potato sacks and saying fuck it because I live in the south east and it’s unbearably hot most of the year.
As a photographer and a woman, I listen to a lot of the women around me, many of whom I take photos of while they are climbing, talk to me about their various body insecurities- feeling bloat-y or out of shape, not liking a certain nose angle, not wanting photos simply because they feel frumpy and don’t like the pressure the camera can sometimes add. I get that. I love taking photos of beautiful strong women and seeing how powerful and graceful they can often be. I love getting photos of myself, call it narcissism, but I like feeling just as powerful and beautiful as my friends. I like to post photos of myself on Instagram where I feel pretty, even if I’m covered in dirt, chalk, and tape (yay flappers and bad wrists). Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time filtering through photos mentally making note of stomach rolls, arm flab, weird facial expressions, crazy bird attack hair, and my legs (they get the worst of it). I delete a lot of photos. I post the ones that depict me the way I want to see myself. I avoid sharing the ones that I feel aren’t.
Perhaps this ruins my goal of remaining authentic online. What I show is what I feel like, what makes me happy and what reminds me of the beautiful places and people I surround myself with. The truth: I fall off v1s and v0s all the time, I’ve sent one v4, when I get stressed at school I eat candy and potato chips, I almost never onsight or flash anything outside, leading climbing gives me insane anxiety so I stick to top-roping and bouldering, I’ve cried plenty of times on top rope because I still get scared or beat myself up for being scared.
So what does it mean to be authentically feminine online? You tell me. It’s easier for me to write out my flaws than not delete the photo of me with stomach rolls that I feel I work hard to minimize. My girl friend, Laura, told me the other day while talking about this exact issue that she could never tell when I felt insecure unless I was being extremely open about it. I told her it was because I said fuck it a lot. Fuck it to being hot. Fuck it to saying negative things about myself. Fuck it to wanting to share bad photos of myself. If I learned anything from binge watching the British version of Skins, it’s that “fuck it” might be the most liberating phrase. With that phrase in my vast arsenal that is the english language, maybe that’s how I become authentically feminine online- I say fuck it and do whatever I want.