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Considering Visually, The Esteem of your Mothaf*ckin Self

Threadings On "Altared Remains With Tiara Raven Marie"

Almost a month has gone by, and the frays of Wasp’s Nest are edging. The thread I’m picking at as you read is unrolling from Tiara Raven Marie’s Wasp’s Nest exhibit, “Altared Remains." Watch the excerpt first, then come back to read.

This post contains public notes for my studies of ‘Visual Eroticism’ and considers how visually one can demonstrate self-esteem.

“…the definition of self-esteem is generally considered to be the evaluative aspect of self-knowledge that reflects the extent to which people like themselves and believe they are competent. High self-esteem refers to a highly favorable view of the self, whereas low self-esteem refers to evaluations of the self that are either uncertain or outright negative. Self-esteem is not necessarily accurate or inaccurate.”1

Instagram is cute. That’s sarcasm, y'all. I actually am a big IG hater right now, even though I think it’s a great tool to use. What comes to mind specifically to make the sides of my mouth curl, is a screenshot of an IG story post texted to me by a friend. It’s a “9:16 essay." That is to say, a selfie is used as a background with a multi-paragraph, shit-talking essay typed over the photo. A technique that isn’t uncommon. Hell, I’ve used it myself quite a few times to get some shit off my chest. Not gone lie to yall, I could only read through the first paragraph of the screenshot before relenting to “I’m not reading all that shit.”.

Internet Chapter 9, Verse 16

Why did this happen? Why didn’t I dedicate the time to read it, to have the full context of the communication? Well, based on the first paragraph, I got the sense that the post was about to be self-deprecating in some way, and it immediately turned me off. I’m just not there mentally to consume that sort of shit. I couldn’t give this person a chance to communicate. To be fair, I eventually came around and read the entirety, and it indeed was self-deprecating and pissed me off. That commentary stays in the text threads, but I want to point out that the “9:16 essay effect” is a type of visual iconography that affects how I see a person.

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Lowering the volume on “-isms”, “-phobias” and injurious identity politic when it comes to visual representation, I’m on the edge of a few revelations. Yes, the studies are brewing about visual eroticism— and as I write this will probably become a footnote. The mediation currently though is about the garden (digital or metaphorical) that is one’s visual appearance/representation/documentation/archive.

Self-Esteem, Uncropped

Prioritizing Instagram less frequently, there’s now an uncropped view of the visual outputs witnessed there. I’m asking questions now about what it means to behave in certain ways that show up in visual representations that become an archive of the self. Particularly because through apps like Instagram, therese a sense of  “control”—or maybe a high level of agency—over our visual output. What that output conveys and how it contributes to or exposes the structure of oneself. And how that visual represents or structures the concepts of self-esteem.

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Zeigler-Hill, V. (Ed.). (2013). Self-Esteem (1st ed.). Psychology Press.

It’s been a while… catch up on other Wasps’s Nest Exhbit excerpts:

Sexual & Spiritual Agency: Permission to decide and act to co-create reality

The Spirit of Competition: Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole and Akenya have something to say about the call and response of competition

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