Friday, January 31, 2014

Self love, Self-expression and Selfies

I’ve seen “Selfies” in the media a lot lately… and by that, I mean the subject of selfies. The internet seems to be locked in a debate, and given the recent trend of “funeral selfies, ” empowerment project selfies, post-baby-looking-amazing selfies, and selfies with homeless people, I understand the hubbub. 

One side seems to view the photographs as a reflection all that is wrong with our new digital, all-sharing, narcissistic culture, while the other side sees them as self-portraits, an artistic documentation of life’s journey that can empower the picture-taker to epic proportions. 
 
So who’s right? Well, actually, they both are.... somewhat.

First of all, “selfies” are not a new phenomenon. 

Artists have been painting their own likeness for centuries, with it really picking up in the mid-15th centuries due to the production of cheaper and better mirrors.

And then photographers did the same on film.

  

So, taking one's self-portrait is really nothing new. Artists have used this medium to express themselves, and the public not only accepted them as art, many are quite valuable. 
 

Artistic-Selfies will always be accepted because they're cool, and kind of like a job. And with editing programs like Photoshop, these creative artsy, photographer types are making works that create buzz and get loads of media attention. How many of these photos have you seen while trolling cyberspace?
 
 
Another acceptable form of self-portraiture is the Adventure-Selfie ... you know, those that show people far cooler than you, doing things that are way cooler than you'd ever do, and you tell yourself "I could do that!".. but really, you just live vicariously though their photograph.


Speaking of acceptable selfies, we need to add the Project-Selfie to the list. These include weight-loss/health, travel, empowerment, documenting struggles and real-life issues, pregnancy stages, DIY's, and so forth. 


Now, other than the Personal Family-Selfies, which are meant to keep family updated on social media outlets and therefore up to snuff with most folks, there is the Brand/Fan-Selfie, posted by our favorite celebrities and meant to entertain us, or invite us in to their little world. These photos help the celebrity to grow their image, and we usually accept those photos that are interesting, humorous, or behind-the-scenes.

Now, don't you feel just a bit more connected to those celebrities you give your hard-earned money to in the form of concert and movie tickets, paying for cable television, and buying their music? And I'm sure that those personal family photos also endear you more to grandma and grandpa now cause they can see what you're having for dinner or how cute the kids look in their Halloween costumes.


Like I said... these are all acceptable. 


Finally, we come to the last publicly accepted form of self-photography: The Funny Selfie.


Everyone loves a good laugh, and the cat and dog mustaches do just that.



Okay... so that's my list of what I consider selfies that get big thumbs up from critics and fans alike. Self-portraits for the purpose of art, humor, marketing, sharing, documenting, explaining, and making ourselves look super-awesome cool - get a big YES!

So now, what self-pics are just a bunch of crap and give all others a bad rap? Let's make a list.

First of all, we have the Celebrity WTF Selfie.

Look, I know it must be soooo (ugh) hard to live in the public eye, but honestly... when paparazzi are NOT up in your business, do we really need to see you naked in a chair or just out of the shower? We want to see you in movies or on stage. Lying in bed naked or soaped up in a shower is kinda much. Get over yourself.


Toilet Selfies. Do I even need to explain this one? Just stop doing it... especially the trend of photographing OTHER people within your selfie. Honestly, if you do this when I'm in the room, just be ready for a punch in the face.

The All Public Toilet and People Selfie                                                       Sitting on the toilet selfie


Standing in the Toilet Selfie             Turd in the Toilet Selfie         Someone else is on the toilet selfie




Then there's the selfies that are plain stupid (unless the ass pic was on purpose, then brave! Move up to the humor section.)
I just stole something selfie                 Not understanding what sexy is selfie    You're an ass selfie



What about the bad parenting selfies?? Must you really have your child snap a photo of you with your ass hanging out? Or what about all the mirror selfies and there's a kid in the background? If you honestly think a child hanging from your chest makes your ass look sexier, you may be next on the CPS's visitation list.



This set is about actually LOOKING at your photo before you post it. Does your editing job look real? Is there a sex toy in the background? These are the things you need to know before park that pic permanently into cyberspace (this applies to turds in the toilet too.)
                              Bad at Photoshop selfie      
                                                          


Duck lips... we need NO more duck lips. No, it's not a sexy look, it doesn't make your lips look sexier. You actually look really dorky. Stop it.
                               (Girl in the middle is both duck lipped and funeral selfie. Sigh...)





Here we have more "What we you thinking" selfies. First is sexy underage. A big no no. The second is someone with their head in the fish tank. This person has NO idea what the hell he's doing. Someone take that phone out of his hand pronto. And the last shows 2 poor saps photographing themselves sleeping, which is sad on it's own, but then they post that their "girlfriend" took it. Double sad. And this happens with women too. Don't think I haven't see fake "my Boo" posts... cause I have.
Put some clothes on! selfie             I've ran out of ideas selfie


And now, the people who REALLY need those cell phones slapped out of their hands, and then a slap upside the head. Yes, there are people out there photographing themselves with dead or dying loved ones, and homeless people. I agree that these particular photos ARE bad for the world in general, and if people would start a petition around town asking to publically flog these individuals, I would sign it.
I'm a horrible human being - because people are dead or dying in the background of my selfie - selfie


I'm not even including all the photos that people post of themselves - usually looking up, gazing wide eyed into the lens, while sitting in front of a window, hair perfect, trying to act like it's just any ordinary day and you didn't just take 20 photos (and then edit a few of them) to get that one perfect photo that says to the world " This is me... I'm not conceited. I just wanted to say hello to the world." There are so many of them. Way too many. And that's probably what's really pissing everything off -- the sheer volume of selfies posed in the exact same way.

And in case you were wondering if I had a favorite selfie, the answer is yes.
 
THIS ONE!!!



So go out and empower yourself, share your life, and document your journey! Show us your selfies and brush away all the naysayers!

But remember: social media is a wonderful thing, but it is eternal. Don't be the butt of everyone's jokes -  keep your ass (and your kids) out of the frame, dildos off the desk, and flush before you start posing. And don't ever, EVER take a funeral selfie.

Until next time, stay gorgeous!

XOXO,
Terri Jean

PS:    

It happened today in women's history


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Check it out!

I'm incredibly proud to have two of my photos included in this Huffington Post article.
The model is one of my Eye Candy Girls, Miss Natalie,
and she is proving that curvy IS sexy! Way to go Natalie!

Photo of Eye Candy Girl, Miss Natalie, by Terri Jean
Photo of Eye Candy Girl Miss Natalie, by Terri Jean

Today in women's history


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Celebrating a hero today... in women's history



To those who believe Bullying is protected by Free Speech... read this, dumbass (oops.. my bad)

Recently I reported on an on-line bullying episode regarding a young mom from my community. Luckily, we were able to have this fictitious Facebook account removed, but once that particular head was cut off, several others popped up in their pace and the cyber bulling - still anonymously - continues. At this time, the victim still has no idea who her attacker is, or why they are so actively pursuing her. 

Though the above image is directed at the young girls mother, the sentiments all attack the girl.





Recently, cyberbullies were slapped with a lawsuit in Texas. Seven teens are being sued for libel, and their parents for negligence, for publicly humiliating a 16-year old female in a very public and vulgar manner via Instagram. While discussing this case, and the above harassment by "Kelli Johnstone," during an online debate, I was told repeatedly that 1) calling cyberbulling "libel" is a stretch and 2) it is the assailants right to free speech. As a person with a Paralegal education, I beg to differ.

First of all, this is the definition of Libel:



So, by maliciously calling someone names that they are not, in an effort to PUBLICLY humiliate, shame or tarnish their reputation, is libel. With the case of the Texas teen suing her classmates, their Instagram account had over 900 followers. That is a PUBLIC shaming site specifically designed to tarnish the reputation of a single person. This is libelous.


Second, is the right to Free Speech.



Most everyone is familiar with the First Amendment right to their freedom of speech: the right to speak freely on any subject without government restriction or penalties. But does that mean you can say anything and anybody?  Actually… no.

First of all, the broad term “speech” applies to verbal, nonverbal, visual and symbolic expression. Our forefathers wanted us to be able to speak our mind without penalty, but over the years expectations have risen when the government has decided the speech could cause substantial harm to the public. In determining whether free speech in a particular manner is allowed, the courts weight the importance of one’s free speech against the potential dangers if the speech is allowed. 

For example, speech that is offensive or unpopular are not reasons alone to suppress it. Actually, these are the very rights that NEED protection by the First Amendment.  And as a society, we have the right to turn our heads and walk away, because though we may find what they are saying to be offensive, ignorant or even nasty, it is THEIR opinion, and they have the right to shout their opinion to the rooftops. We have the right to refuse them an audience.

Although most of speech is protected under the First Amendment, there ARE exceptions, mainly speech that is defaming (includes libel and slander), obscene, “fighting words” that immediately breach the peace, words that cause panic (yelling “Fire!” in a movie theater, for instance), speech that spurs someone to act criminally, and speech that advocates overthrowing the government. 

In the case of cyberbulling, what we see most are defamation, libel and slander. Defamation is a broad term – meaning it’s speech that harms one’s reputation. When it’s written down, it’s libel. When it’s spoken, it’s slander. It’s a tough call for the courts, because it has to weigh one’s right to voice their opinion against a person’s right NOT to have someone run around, spreading rumors about them, or causing harm to one’s profession, reputation or image. It’s a difficult issue because when something is expressed as an opinion it’s protected (usually, not always), but when it’s stated as a fact, it can be considered defamation.
Laws differ state to state, but generally the victim must prove a) the statement was spoken or printed, b) they are false, c) they injured the victim in some way (including their reputation), and d) the victim suffered some type of injury, which includes mental anguish. The victim must also be a private citizen, as there are different regulations involving people who live their life in the public eye.

For example, spreading false rumors that someone has a sexually transmitted disease could be considered defamation, although the defamation would be much harder to prove if that person was a celebrity because it would have to be shown that the speaker was acting maliciously. This is why there are so few celebrity lawsuits against tabloids.

What are some examples of defamation?
Telling someone that another person has a sexually transmitted disease, and they do not.
Telling a person that their partner is cheating on them, when they are not.
An employer saying that their employee stole something, when they did not.
Claiming flies are in your food at a restaurant, when there was not.
Accusing a person of stealing your property, when they did not.
Accusing a person of sleeping with ___, when they did not.
Claiming someone is gay when they are not.
A co-worker accusing someone of being incompetent at their job, when they are not.
Spreading a rumor in school that a student is sleeping with a teacher, when they are not.
Claiming someone had an abortion, when they did not.
Starting a rumor that a person in school tried to kill themselves, when they did not.


As for the other non-protected speech, if a person uses lies to outrage a group, then their words may not just be defamation, but they also might be considered non-protected “fighting words.” An example of this might be Girl A spreads a rumor in school to Girl B that Girl C, the victim, is having sex with Girl B’s boyfriend. Girl B then targets girl C in a bullying rampage that includes other friends who gang up verbally on Girl C, when she, in fact, did nothing wrong. If Girl B and her friends then commit crimes against Girl C, such as vandalizing her vehicle, harassing her on-line, physically fighting, then Girl A’s freedom of speech is NOT protected. She incited others to act criminally, thus causing Girl C to become a victim.

So, in the below post that was publicly made and tagged so that it appeared on the victim's mothers Facebook page, what MIGHT be defamation?




"Hello. lol obviously she stresses spreading her legs over education." - can be perceived as libel, because it is stated as a fact.

The following sentence, "Be careful as these gals likely have a lot of diseases." is an opinion.

Now, since the cyberbulling has continued, though from another fake account, if it is proven to be the act of one single person (or one entity - meaning, the same group of girls), it could fall under yet another legal term and that is harassment: the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands.

My point is, whenever a person is bullied and people chime in saying the bullies have the right to do what they want because it falls under their First Amendment Right of Free Speech, I will always beg to differ. Bullying is NOT a protected right. It is a crime.
Truth is, the VICTIM has more of a right to a life without hatred, false rumors, lies and aggressive harassment bombarding their daily lives. They shouldn't have to live with one person having power over their reputation, and they should be able to face their oppressor in a court of law.

So the next time someone says to you that a bully has the RIGHT to say what they want, and that it is a protected right, be sure to stand up and say that it's the VICTIM who has MORE of a right to NOT be bullied! That they need to read their Constitution. We may all have a right to say and do what we want, but there will still be consequences attached... as there should be.

As always, stay beautiful!

XXOO











Terri Jean is an Ohio writer, photographer, anti-bully activist, and Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of                        I Feel Delicious. She founded The Eye Candy Girls, a pinup model troupe, in 2008, encouraging -and empowering - women of all shapes, sizes, and styles "to feel delicious." Her 2003 book, 365 Days of Walking the Red Road, is available on Amazon.com.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Today in HERstory


Happy Chocolate Cake Day! An Interview with Natalie of Flour Power Bakery



Eye Candy Girl Natalie, courtesy of Terri Jean Photography

Eye Candy Girl Natalie, Courtesy of Terri Jean Photography
January 27th is National Chocolate Cake Day, a day to celebrate your love for this rich, decadent dessert. In honor of this day, we're interviewing one of our own Eye Candy Girls, Betty Buttercream (aka: Natalie), the creator, owner and proprietor of Athens, Ohio's Flour Power Bakery.

Flour Power Bakery will be turning four years old in February, according to Natalie. "I couldn't find good desserts anywhere in town for parties and events so I did it myself! tells us. Offering everything from cupcakes to cream puffs to chocolate covered pretzels and more, Flour Power came about from a love of baking and a need for a good job in a flagging economy. "I really love what it has become and still enjoy baking," says Natalie.


Even though she bakes almost every day, Natalie still has time to devote to other pursuits, including modeling for Terri Jean Photography as one of our Eye Candy Girls. And just like all the flavors of women who read I Feel Delicious, Natalie is always on the lookout for new adventures in her baking life. "[I] am always on the lookout for new flavors or desserts to add."

Flour Power is a small, one woman operation but that doesn't mean they aren't going big places. "My biggest order so far has been 40 dozen cupcakes for the Dairy Barn's New Year's Eve party," says Natalie. She also attends the Athens Farmer's Market each and every Saturday, where you can find her under a pink tent. "The farmers market is stressful but so much fun that it's worth it!" Being "the cupcake lady" also allows her the chance to dress up in a fun and stylish way. "I could wear pearls and pink polka dots every day of my life."

Flour Power isn't just about cupcakes and sweets, though. Natalie is also an active volunteer for the community. Her heart is with the fuzzy things in life, as her own two dogs can attest to. "I love that [the] Flour Power Bakery allows me to give back to the community by providing desserts for
My Sister's Paws Sweet Tea Social and Friends of the Shelter Dogs fundraisers."

"I have met so many people and been a part of so many special events in their lives...weddings, birthdays, retirements, showers.....and it's only been 4 years!" says Natalie, and her pride is obvious and hard-won.


Natalie, Courtesy of Terri Jean Photography

Natalie adds:
"I love seeing photos of my desserts at weddings and parties and surprise deliveries are my favorite! Valentine's Day is my biggest single day, and also my favorite holiday. This year, I will have two days of Valentine's Day Orders!"

You can check out the Flour Power Bakery here on Facebook and place an order. I promise, they're worth it!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Today in HERstory!


Can feminism and prostitution co-exist?



Over the past few years, I have become quite aware of Terri-Jean Bedford. For my work, I signed up for Google Alerts, so every time a “Terri Jean” is mentioned in the news, I receive an email. For the past year, there have been far, far more “Terri-Jean Bedford’s” than just plain “Terri Jean” me’s.  And while most of mine pertain to boudoir photography or female empowerment, I always smile when the other Terri-Jean pops up. She is Canada’s most famous dominatrix, known by her stage name Madame De Sade, who was arrested in 1994 for operating a common bawdy (brothel) house; she fought against Canada’s prostitution laws and recently helped strike them down during appeal. I’m actually flattered to share her name.
In a statement about her win, Bedford told reporters "Now the government must tell Canadians, all consenting adults, what we can and cannot do in the privacy of our home for money or not. And they must write laws that are fair."

When asked recently how I defined a feminist, Terri-Jean Bedford was the first person who came to mind. Why? Because for me, a feminist is a woman in control of her person, her image, and her life. She creates equal playing fields in the workforce, in her home life, and with her own body. Though I agree that the sex industry is full of exploitation, objectification, and male dominance over women, I also believe that providing a sexual service to clients is something that’s been around for centuries and will most likely NOT go away. Because there is so much violence, manipulation, and cohesion involved with those who engage in such a risky profession, wouldn’t laws and regulation help to eliminate this criminal element? Bedford certainly thinks so.

I’m not here to debate whether there should or should not be prostitution – that would be ridiculous, because prostitution already exists, and it will exist, as long as we remain human beings with functional sexual organs. Sex for trade is “the oldest profession” and probably one of the most dangerous. What Terri-Jean Bedford (and her partners) accomplished might improve (or even save) women’s lives, enabling women to take charge of their bodies and income, and to work outside of dirty alleyways, motels and cars. By legitimizing this incredibly dangerous profession, these women may gain some control over their work-lives, their home lives, their image and their own bodies. And isn’t that what we want for our fellow sisters? Isn’t that one of the goals of feminism?

It's one of mine.



Stay beautiful!



 


Terri Jean is an Ohio writer, photographer, anti-bully activist, and Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of I Feel Delicious. She founded The Eye Candy Girls, a pinup model troupe, in 2008, encouraging -and empowering - women of all shapes, sizes, and styles "to feel delicious." Her 2003 book, 365 Days of Walking the Red Road, is available on Amazon.com.
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