Stop Taking Headless-Selfies.

Via Erica Leibrandt
on Oct 1, 2013
get elephant's newsletter


Honestly. What is going on these days?

If I see one more woman (literally) deface herself by taking her own picture barely clothed, her sweaty carved abs tilted to just the right angle to make them look even more sweaty and carved, but with her head cut off at the neck, I’m going to run out into the street screaming,

“Please! You are more than just your body!!!!”

It’s like the photographic version of female mutilation… except we’re perpetrating it on ourselves.

No matter how hard I try to insulate myself from these images, they rain down upon my head like so many rabid cats and dogs.

Since I am someone who is involved in the “fitness industry,” read: a Yoga teacher (although clearly Yoga and “fitness” fall in vastly different genres), I get lumped in by all the creepy, invisible robots tapping away on their computers in the dark trying to categorize everyone and everything  (not for the sake of understanding, but for the sake of sales) with people who think that if your body looks good you are healthy.

I receive mysterious “health” magazines in the mail that I’ve never subscribed to, my Facebook page is lousy with “diet tips” and suggestions for “the one secret food that Dr. Oz says you must eat for weight loss”, and my Tumblr account is a minefield of the aforementioned selfies (a word I no longer have to parenthesize, since, as of a few months ago, selfie has been deemed an official word by The Oxford Dictionary… what a relief!)

“Skinny = healthy!” they all scream, poisoning the minds of women the world over who should have bigger things on their minds than the size of their ass.

I’m upset because I’ve been poisoned too.

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time delving into the dimensions of my own ass. If I were a younger woman, I would undoubtedly have taken anonymous pictures of it as well, on days when I deemed it small, and proudly posted those pictures all over town—meaning, the world, because that’s how technology works these days.

And then those images of my tiny headless ass would be seen by countless women who, despite employing the same tricks in their own pics (i.e. lighting, effects, posing and starvation) which can make even an average ass look epic, will gaze longingly (or judgmentally) at that photo and spend the next few minutes mulling over her own ass and its relative worth.

It’s not like this woman/body thing is a new issue, but it has taken on new and frightening dimensions. And maybe it just seems like that to me because a) I’m old and when you get old everything seems either more or less important than it did when you were twenty or b) I’m over it and I don’t appreciate having worked this hard to get over it and then have it shoved down my throat every second of the day.

If you are proud of your body, hooray! Not enough women are.

But show me your beautiful face, too.

Unless I’m some guy sitting at the computer masturbating (which I most assuredly am not), that’s the more interesting and impressive thing about you anyway. Impressive meaning, you have made an impression on my brain, and maybe even my heart, about the fact of you, that you exist, and you are real, and that maybe if I ever saw you, we might have a nice conversation and even become friends.

Like elephant culture on Facebook.

Ed: Sara Crolick


About Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a licensed mental health clinician, certified yoga instructor, and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg, and we can never dance too much. Connect with Erica on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr.


6 Responses to “Stop Taking Headless-Selfies.”

  1. Lala says:

    I believe women should be celebrated whether they take a selfies with head or sans head.

    Your criticism of women celebrating their bodies is really disturbing to me.
    It's another form of shaming and women hating on other women.
    Who really cares how, when and why women take selfies?

    The fact that you took an entire page on Elephant Journal to express your concerns or opinion says more about you and your own self hatred than those women who are celebrating themselves with beautiful photos. Every communication criticizing others is a mirror about what's really going on inside of you.

    Instead of shaming women, why don't you celebrate with the rest of them because who really gives a crap how women take photos of themselves? I honor them and celebrate the freedom they feel to express themselves.

  2. Erica says:

    I'm sorry "hating on women" is what you took away from this. That was certainly not my intent. As I said, women should be proud of their bodies, and their faces, as well as their hearts, minds and beautiful souls. With Love, E

  3. Christina says:

    Once you put a photo on the internet, you lose control of it. A woman who is PROUD of her accomplishments, yet fears that an image of her in a bikini, yoga outfit, etc. might appear in a place where professional contacts may stumble upon it is perfectly justified in NOT including her face in the photo. Photos are stolen and repurposed EVERY SINGLE DAY. Have you not seen the "Catfish" movie/TV show?

    There may be many legitimate reasons for women to want to maintain anonymity on the internet. Just because you don't know what they are that doesn't make these reasons less valid.

  4. Erica says:

    That's a really good point. But I would still love to see people's faces 🙂

  5. Sarah says:

    Love this, Erica! I started laughing when I read your comment about using tricks of our own yet being jealous or (even more embarrassing) judgmental of others' photos. I am fighting the belief that skinny is healthy every day. Thank you for being wonderful! So grateful for your writing. And while there are people who want to remain anonymous, I think it's safe to say the majority of these photos go out there to make ourselves feel better. Thanks for keeping it real.

  6. Christina says:

    Thanks for the response. I would love to see them, too, but I get why people don't want to post them. Sad that we even have to worry about things like that. Take care!