Sh*tty Camera Self-Love
“Send me a picture.”
I sent a selfie to a dude for the first time in years. I made sure it was neck-up and Jesus-appropriate. Sending neck-up pictures as a big girl is now an internet meme but in this case, knowing my past, you should probably let me be great. Back in the day, pictures I sent to dudes weren’t staged in an attempt to guard against accidental public consumption. They were sent for his eyes only, hour of use totally up to him. I didn’t know about the rule “no face, no case”. I was in such bad shape when it came to my self-confidence, I hid my face because I thought I was ugly, not to be safe.
I received some feedback from one of my earlier pieces in this WEDJ series about revealing that I participated in cam sex and picture-for-play in the years following the death of my Dad. I refuse to feel shame about any part of my past (for the record, I know that most of the people that mentioned it to me weren’t trying to shame me.). Honestly, those times made me the woman that I am today, a woman that recognizes a woman struggling with her sense of self and who needs to know what the love of Jesus — and not the love of some random dude on Tumblr — can do to their lives. I know who my ministry is — — broken girls like me. Before I was a lioness, I was a kitten caught in a rainstorm.
I think the cam sex and picture-for-picture exchange shocks people because it feels so extreme. It really isn’t. Most people think they are a porn star once in their life, myself included. I did it because I was super lonely when I first moved away from home. Dudes filled the loneliness void for me and since I knew no one, I had to find some people to do the hard work of making Ciara feel good about herself. I never knew their real names, never saw their faces. But I did see body parts and bodily fluids. In all transparency, so did they.
One man from that era still has videos of me. We haven’t spoken to each other in a year. I told him to delete them. He lied and told me that he did. But he would always text me to tell me that he watched one of the videos I sent him when he woke up in the morning. I would cringe so hard, my body would damn near convulse. Until this day, I have to trust this word. I doubt he let them go.
This woman growing in her walk with Jesus, involved in ministry and is working on creating a safe space for women recovering from sexual violence may have videos floating around on the internet of herself doing things she can’t describe here without getting the FCC involved. And I own that.
But as I know with the Jesus I serve, he can redeem everything. Even crappy laptop cameras. In moments when I feel low, times where I feel as if I don’t have purpose plus those moments when I feel like I look like I fell out of a tree, I take pictures. That same camera that used to transmit videos of myself doing ungodly things now takes pictures of a woman who wants to bathe herself in some body-positivity. Who needs a reminder that she is worth the love she gives herself, worth the time and attention she gives herself. That she’s desirable, necessary and worthy. No dude can make her feel good about her like she can. It’s a “I see you, girl!” moment in the making. It’s a time to label myself as “bad.”
The good type of “bad”, not the bad kind of “bad.”
This is my attempt to write every day in July. To read more, follow the hashtag #wedj2019!