We all know what we’re talking about here– the exaggerated, silly faces we make in selfies with our friends, or even by ourselves. We joke around with the people we love, calling ourselves “ugly” but we rarely post those photos to Instagram or Facebook. We love our personalities to be perceived in a certain way. Instagram, notorious for inducing FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), and making users feel absolutely miserable about their seemingly average lives, is full of misconceptions about how women look. This is no secret. We’ve all heard of Instagram bodies, airbrushed stomachs and thighs, Factuned lips, etc. In my honest (and unpopular) opinion, all of that is actually totally fine. Our world is so fake, and people live online. At least the people who use these airbrushing apps the most are starting to be honest about it– with celebrities such as Tana Mongeau constantly joking around about how she’d love to Facetune her real life. Of course, to not have an opinion about this might be considered anti-feminist, but I perceive change in action. And that action, I believe, is the art of taking intentionally ugly photos.

Women who do post “ugly” faces to socials do it to be “funny.” It’s a basic, baseline way to get views: the “hot girl is also super relatable” type content. We see this with yet another Youtuber, Alissa Violet. But why must we be so #relatable all the time?

I think intentionally ugly photos, silly photos, and photos of you just having fun– not for content or views– are the most beautiful photos of them all. They are statements to your recovery from societal pressures to look a certain way. When we post the best versions of ourselves to social media, many times, we leave out the parts of us that make us the most us. The laughable, not-serious parts of us. At least, I know I do. I genuinely love taking both beautiful, perfected photos of myself, as well as the real-life, messy photos, for everyone to see. Taking, and posting, the most unflattering versions of yourself can be just as empowering as posting that perfect selfie.

There is constant attention, these days, to holding celebrities accountable for falsifying their images, and showcasing unrealistic expectations of body image. We live in a vile, patriarchal world, which forces women into two camps: those who are, and those who want to be. While we are placed in those boxes, we don’t need to remain in them. On one hand, that does mean holding celebrities, influencers, and models accountable for their imaging. On the other, it means that we need to be careful about how we do that. Having constant access to democratic platforms creates a double-edged sword for the average feminist woman– people attack women for both being too fake and now, also, not fake enough.

Now that there is a reversal on what we expect from social media, in that we expect famous people to be more real online, we also have to be conscientious of the vile language used to obliterate women who make changes to their bodies, and the ones who don’t at all. By this, I mean, we can’t tell Tana Mongeau to off herself because she uses Facetune and we can’t force our societally-derived image of the perfect woman on bodies that do not look like ours. Most of the time, we fail at holding feminist principles on both accounts. We see this in the literally thousands of hypocritical, judgemental comments on literally every famous woman’s Instagram posts. Feminist liberation cannot be achieved through calling other women ugly– a notion that I believed was self-evident by now, but for some reason, still has to be said, apparently.

What we can do is take back our power, in any way we can. And that’s where the intentional ugly photos come in. Instead of being a joke for hot girls to be relatable, or a way to downplay your sense of confidence, intentionally ugly photos can be the outlet for beautiful self expression. Let’s face it, guys. Girls are funny. They are holistically smart, hilarious, well-intentioned, and beautiful. I think intentionally taken ugly photos showcase all of these things!

In a world that is constantly evolving, diverging from physical spaces into the internet world, and the discourse on Feminist ideology on self-esteem grows, I believe we should do the thing that empowers us the most. We should do the thing that takes back power from systematic norms, and makes us the most comfortable. Whether that’s laughing at our flaws, or being honest about covering them up, I think how we manage our self-esteem online is going to be a telling show on how we take feminist self-esteem into the 21st century. Moreover, it takes courage to be yourself on the increasingly fake world we are delving into, and showcasing who you really are– whether that’s with winged eyeliner out to the outer ring of Saturn, or scrunching up your face until it’s extremely small, who you are is important. Let’s show the world that.