When I was growing up, there were no positive depictions of fat girls on television, and there were certainly none featured in fashion magazines. Camryn Mannheim's 1998 Emmy acceptance speech, where she sang out, "This is for all the fat girls!" as she raised her trophy, thrilled me. However, her traditionally feminine aesthetic didn't speak to me. In the early 1990s, Nomy Lamm published a zine, "i'm so fucking beautiful," which changed my life, but her West Coast riot grrrl aesthetic wasn't like mine either.
Even if there had been a wealth of aesthetic role models, there is something so cool and powerful about putting what you want to see out into the world. Selfie culture allows all people — not just those few who gatekeepers would like to gaze upon — to document ourselves both for personal reasons, and for present and future communities of kindred spirits.
The power of our peers' selfies cannot be overstated for people who don't see themselves in mainstream media. Makeup message boards help economically disadvantaged folks duplicate coveted trendy products. A young trans girl can learn how to neutralize and conceal facial hair stubble in the privacy of her room, thanks to video demos by her peers. I can hop on my Instagram feed and count on seeing avant garde teenage drag queens, Afrofuturists, dramatic and spoopy goth girls, cosplayers and FX artists, Korean beauty glass skin aficionados, sultry women of a certain age and a few soft glam favorites.
There's room for all types of people with all types of aesthetics, and the sheer ubiquity of selfie- and makeup-culture allows all of us the chance to see people outside of a white, cisgender-heteronormative mainstream flourish on our own terms.