Selfies Are Self Care Potion

There's a Tumblr post that's garnering notes by the thousands. It goes something like this: selfies are a product of teenage girls being in control of their own image and its dissemination. Of course they're going to be criticised.

When I post a selfie, I am posting it mainly to an audience of other women. I am luxuriating in my own image, for me, and for them. I am circumnavigating, perhaps even blocking the male gaze.

Another note-rich Tumblr post reads "I post selfies for myselfie, not for youie."

Women are often accused of being bitchy, competitive, throwing other women under the bus for the attention of men. In my ventures into the worlds of Tumblr and Instagram (there are currently 238,955,445 posts tagged "selfie" on Instagram alone), this is not something I have encountered.

Instead, women compliment each other. They congratulate each other on their appearance, and, more importantly, on their achievements and personal celebrations in day to day life. 

But my selfies are not just for my "audience". They are a means of recording times when I feel most content with myself, most excited about what my day has in store for me, and even a way of validating myself when I feel less than rosy; a slick of red lipstick and I'm ready to face the world. And perhaps, when I look back on the photograph I took that day, I will realise that it wasn't so bad in the end after all, and that moment of recording myself quite literally putting a brave face on it was the turning point in my day.

In this spirit, I got myself all glammed up, scrawled "Selfies are self care" on a chalkboard, and spent four pounds in a photobooth, to create this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion.



And the "ingredients" for this potion? A beaded lipstick red ruffled ribbon bearing the ultimate 21st Century self care instruction: "Take more selfies".











Selfie esteem.
Selfie validation.
Selfie worth.

Selfie care.

(With deference to @angstravaganza.)


In black and white



One of my first embroideries was based on Brief Encounter. I believe it will always be one of my favourite films (to be watched with a box of tissues close to hand!) It crops up as a reference again and again in my writing as well, and so for my latest RSN piece I decided to embroider its star, Celia Johnson, in her role as Laura Jesson.



A favourite band from my adolescence, Patti Plinko and Her Boy, cemented my love of Brief Encounter in their song Brief Call (which sadly I now can't find anywhere on the internet). In the song, a woman with a cut-glass English accent implores to a telephone operator that she wants to talk to Celia Johnson (one of their later songs is entitled Tapestry Stitches; clearly Patti Plinko and I are destined to be!) The crackly, seductive-yet-sinister voice of Patti Plinko seared the character Celia Johnson into my brain; in my spoken word piece Kiss the Book, I later wrote that "You and I might be the last remaining sufferers of Celia Johnson Syndrome, forsaking feelings for public decency, drinking to loosen stiff upper lips, awakening to find starched white surgical ruffs buttoned back up beyond the collar."

The black and white, austerity Britain, "keep calm and carry on" vibe of the film (apt as it was made during the war) translates well to blackwork, the technique I'm currently learning at the Royal School of Needlework. 


I wouldn't have expected it as I'm pants at maths, but I've really taken to counted thread techniques; perhaps there's something slightly obsessive about my personality?! Making those tiny little geometric stitches in counts of two threads a time certainly is satisfying; I find the octagonal square pattern I'm using to shade Celia's face with particularly hypnotic.






Teeny tiny waffle pattern making up Celia's hair


Blackwork is very crisp, and perhaps the closest embroidery technique to hand drawing. My favourite pieces to stitch prior to starting at the RSN were black and white illustrations from early-twentieth century children's books, so I was particularly looking forward to starting this technique:







In fact, my initial design for blackwork more closely resembled these illustrations; it was based on a character from my stories and stitchings, Polly Kettle:


However, my tutors decided that this design would be too flat, as blackwork, as opposed to just black on white stitching, is all about shading and dimensionality, and the use of negative space. So we plumped for this screenshot of Celia instead (only severely cropped!):


I will be sharing blow-by-blow progress over on Instagram, so do head on over if you want to see my stitchy (and other!) goings-on.


Instagram Gratification

 As the title of this post may suggest, I've become hopelessly addicted to Instagram! I've always been one to document everything, whether in words or images, and now I'm even more prone to snap away.

I've been posting blow-by-blow accounts of my Canvas Work and other stitchy pieces, and yes, I'm sorry to say, photographs of food (though I doubt many fans of the site share their fishfinger sarnies with the world; I, on the other hand, am tragically unglamorous).


If you're an Instagrammer yourself, say hi; I'm always looking out for new artists and interesting images to follow. My moniker is the very same - @poesiegrenadine. See you over there, smartphone in hand!