Picking an avatar was a completely ridiculous journey for me.
At first, I was just searching through images I've saved or marked. As I looked through them, though, the pictures seemed too surface. Like, yes, that dog is absolutely adorable, and yeah it is completely caught in that shirt -- and I identify with being fluffy and doofus-y and tangled up something I probably got myself into. But so many people could identify with that, or at least just think something along the lines of, “Oh yes, what a cute avatar that has little to do with anything else but cuteness.” (Which is completely valid, just not what I was going for.)
I decided to have a process. Also, I love using bulleted lists, so win/win.
- Not sure how much I wanted to be “found”.
- I want to completely own up to everything put on this account.
- Relatively professional (so not fictional characters or drawings of butts. maybe those were initially considered, but let's not talk about that ).
- Not terribly boring (a little boring is okay).
- Something that anyone could see. A boss, a parent, a friend, an acquaintance – anyone with whom I have any sort of ~image~ that I might want to upkeep.
- Something to which I could say, "Yes, that's me."
- Something I wouldn't mind looking at for the next four solid months.
So, already I have convoluted aspects to something as simple as an avatar. I don't think I've ever put this much depth into finding an avatar. Anyway, I tried to find a balance.
On to the picture I actually chose.
"Queer" is a reclaimed slur by much of the LGBTQIA+ community. Different people have different feelings about it. Since I have personally had the term used against me as a slur, I do feel a lot of strength by using it.
The image itself is from a set of like pictures [shown above] that are alternatives to gendered restroom signs that are very limiting.
I simply cropped the image to create the avatar [shown below].
A lot of things about the particular sign I chose have been queered, from the placement of the word/"gender marker" on the sign (not under or above the posing figure) to the very spelling itself (as the letters are turned around and a bit jumbled). Similarly, I try to queer as many spaces as possible, or at least make people question things often held as norms. Also, the jumbling (or queering) of the letters is much like how I sometimes queer words and letters with my disabilities.
The silhouetted figure itself is not really identifiably belonging to a gender category (though no silhouetted figure truly is, but that's a different conversation). The figure is instead leaping, one arm back and legs spread as it flies or levitates in its frozen pose. While I cannot jump or fly or levitate (though the latter two would be awesome), the lack of gender identity other than "queer", and the freedom that the figure expresses, much is how I feel about my own gender and many other aspects of my queer identity.
Finally, the background to the sign is yellowed, lined in groups that resemble paragraphs with tiny words. I think that makes the sign aesthetically pleasing, but also, for a deeper meaning, I think that I am built on the words of others. As an advocate of social justice, I try to listen to many people's stories and theories that have helped me shape my identity as well as work in solidarity for others. And further, I think that a lot of who I have become has been shaped by my years at Bryn Mawr, and what better way to represent Bryn Mawr other than tons of unreadable text? (This last paragraph isn't exactly a one-to-one symbol, but I started putting a silly amount of thought into this, so here we are.)