Which photo says “Fierce, Faithful and Free” to you?

I’ve been getting a little unsolicited flak about my photo on my Feminist.com column lately. The gist of it is that folks say I look a little too, well, sweet.  Meek.

So, my wildy talented friend Jessica Schwartz took a few new shots of me yesterday.  Which one’s your choice for my new Fierce, Faithful, and Free bio page photo?

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5 Responses to Which photo says “Fierce, Faithful and Free” to you?

  1. I prefer the portrait on the bottom left corner, of the four presented here….hair blowing, hand on hips…it reads “fierce.”

  2. Gary Matthews says:

    I like them all. Top left hand corner is my fav. But why can’t a feminist look sweet? Is credibility attached to your sweetness level? I am concerned :(

    And I love you

    • Linda says:

      When I posted this same question on my Facebook page, it caused quite a stir. I thought you might like to see some of the comments, as they get at the very things you’re talking about Gary.

      Why do feminists have to always be angry, or apparently look angry even if you are not?

      If you change the pic the powers that be would have won! This focus on adornments and what we look like to convey “power” is so tribalistic! It’s what the mind and spirit contains and our actions that demonstrate who we are! Ms LKK! you are a wonderful writer and a strong human being. You ask penetrating questions and go to intellectual places few people go – it’s demonstrated in your blog writings and what you do. People appreciate what you do, and if your actions and writings help and inspire others to be better than they are then that’s all that is important…. not some… photos! Photos can lie!.. Ok, this is your FB page… so let me stop! But that issue boils me up!…

      Also, you look awesome in all of these. I like the one of you on the bench and I love the one with your hair in the wind (but you’d probably get flac for being too sexy!)

      HI Linida…isn’t it weird that beauty has its own “down” stereotypes…i.e. that if you are pretty you can’t be powerful and kickass. We know who you are!! no worries!

      (This one is from me): Thank you for the support, guys! Though I actually think that the folks who called me out on the last photo had a point. Language takes a lot of forms–we speak in images, actions, and yeah, sure, words–and people listen in every form, whether we want them to or not. So though I don’t want change myself, I’m alright with changing a photo.

      Images may speak in words, but, really, what is “wrong” with being nice? Having read some of your work, I know you’ve been called out for it before… But I feel that sometimes in feminist circles we have internalized the idea that traditional feminine characteristics like being nurturing or emotional are a negative thing. I think that we need balance of things… I regularly teach kids in my professional work about using assertive communication- which is sticking up for your own truths while still being respectful of those of others… But, I trully think, it’s not so wrong to be nice- it’s just wrong to let your own voice be quieted or to dim your own light to try to let others shine brighter. Embrace your nice, girl!

      I think serious, smart work deserves a serious, smart picture.

      The photo above on the bench conveys a serious, strong, yet approachable person, and I like it. In fact, any of the four would be good for your site. But it really ticks me off that anyone thinks it’s appropriate to be criticizing the original photo. Why, because you looked happy? There’s nothing goofy or demeaning about the original photo. It’s one thing for you to ask for input, and perhaps get feedback leading you to change photos, but the fact that this was unsolicited flak makes me think the people offering it aren’t quite grasping your message. And that’s a shame because they are missing out! Arggghhhhh!

      (Now, me again): I love this conversation! You’re right, Kat, that I’ve been accused of niceness (as though it were a dirty word) with smirks and sometimes downright derision my entire life. But I’ve kept on trying to be a sweetie-pie, because I couldn’t agree with you and Brian more that feminists don’t have to be angry, or crabby, or any of the old stereotypes in order to believe in equality. Things brings to mind something I was talking about last night—the fact that the social change community (feminists included) are still catching up with this new idea that we can CREATE a world rather than CHANGE it (aka: using a positive frame, rather than a negative one ala positive psychology, etc). I’m thinking about writing a blog post about it this week. But in the meantime, I think that the folks who made the comments were just trying to be helpful, to say “Hey, looking at this photo, here is what I would think of you if I didn’t know you. And I know this to be out-of-whack with who you really are, and with the messages you have for the world. So, you might want to consider changing the photo so people who DON’T know you won’t see it and choose not to read your words, wrongly assuming things about you…”. As I think on it, perhaps the art of it is a little bit understanding how others will react to certain images, and so choosing carefully, and a little bit challenging people’s assumptions by just being who you are, looking how you look, and saying what you say. In other words, a little bit savvy PR, and a little bit not giving a damn loudly (and sometimes nicely) enough that people pay attention….

      Be the change!

      like your thoughts on it, Linda! Despite my comments, I constantly feel a push pull with the message I want to send out to people and doing so in a way that is authentic to me. My thoughts: these photos seem authentic you AND the message you want to send… Also, keep challenging people that being nice is NOT a negative or unpowerful thing.

      nda, I’m all for making choices carefully to accurately convey the message you intend, and I appreciate your willingness to consider what is behind the “critical” comments, but I still think it’s wrong for any of us to judge anyone else by their appearance, and it annoys me when I see that happening. We may have practical reasons for thinking it’s okay, but it’s not. It is never okay. And as long as we continue to think it is, nothing will change.

      • Gary Matthews says:

        This just proves a couple of things to me . . . feminism is dead. hahaha just kidding, but it does show me how (re)imagined feminism has become–no longer accepting the paradigm that feminist are different or separate or anything ‘other.’ But then the other side to the narrative of this push-back is “why can’t a feminist engage in aesthetics without being questioned?” I am still concerned. This is not to say that reflection and community discourse isn’t necessary. At the heart of all this I see a group surrounding you, encouraging you, loving you for who you are. That certainly was my motivation too. But after reading these responses I wonder why I wasn’t asking you, “what motivated this change?” and “are you sure that the change in prima-face encounter is what you really want?” and ultimately “Linda, you are a really smart and critically aware woman, with a finger in the pulse of feminism today, if you see this as a needed change, then it must be.” Of course this last sentence I would have never said, only thought, but my point being, why I am so quick to question? I suppose there are lots of pressures that I see young women oppressed by, and I wanted to assure you that it was so not necessary for you to pay attention to those. And yet, I am then guilty of suggestion that you hadn’t already consider this. Hang in there, you are a leader, one of the matriarch now and I will choose that as my point of recognition first from now on.

        • Linda says:

          Why did I want to do it? Because yeah, I’m a feminist. But I’m also a communications expert. So I get that the image we choose to portray matters. Whether we choose pretty, or scary, or girl-next-door, it matters. And I wanted my image for the “Fierce, Faithful, and Free” column to say just that: Fierce, Faithful, and Free.

          That was it.

          But the reaction it brought up in people was fascinating! And it shows that people are really struggling with this question of what women can and cannot look like today (in the aftermath of second-wave feminism which sometimes chastised women for being too concerned with being pretty.)

          As far as I’m concerned, we can look any way we want to. We can wear short shirts and still be Christians. We can have sweet cheek smiles and still be feminists. It’s all good. But we should just know that people are paying attention to whatever we put out there, so it is wise, especially when posting a photo to accompany a column, to be sure that our image speaks the message that we want others to receive.

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