Real talk: Googling myself

Yo. For the last few days/weeks/months I’ve been all fucked up. Sometimes it’s easy to forget who you are and what you do when most of the people you interact with don’t understand it, or respect it, or approve of it. But I thought I could change their minds once they realize I’m a really good teacher! I can be really good at this!

But ultimately, type my name in to google image search and this is what you get:

That is me naked. The cover of my first book. A photoshopped image I made of myself getting fucked by Patrick Stewart. Pictures I took. Pictures other people have taken of me. And a particularly amazing photo of me dreaming of Kirk/Spock. All quality images. And when I look at this, my automatic reaction is “who are those other people? and why aren’t they me?”

I don’t want to not do this. I don’t want to not have people find me when they google my name. I don’t want a future employer to not see my naked body if they happen to google me. Because fuck, this is what I do.

And you noticed that. I’ve been getting emails and messages from people expressing their sadness at my decision to “self-edit.” I didn’t realize I had made that decision until you started recognizing it in my complete lack of doing anything at all.

If I stop posting online about sex and body-positivity and backing it all up with my own naked body then who’s benefiting? I thought I would. I thought people would stop talking about me at my workplace. I thought that I would be taken more seriously and would be seen as more professional and more capable. BUT THAT IS SO BACKWARDS. Fuck all that. That’s not benefiting anyone. It’s hurting people; it’s hurting that young girl who would like to see one more woman who tells her it’s okay to enjoy sex. It’s hurting that guy who never really thought about how making an offhand comment about how much his sister eats affects her. It’s hurting my mom who needs to be reminded she is beautiful and strong. It’s hurting every single person who sees what I do and the zero amount of fucks I give and thinks yeah, sure, I can do that too. I’m maybe giving myself too much credit, but it seems in this situation better to give myself too much than too little.

I was freaking out the other day wondering what the fuck I was doing and why I was doing it and applying for volunteer positions and knowing that if they google me, chances are I won’t get called. And Matt said, “Fuck them.” And I said, “Yeah?” And he said, “Yeah. There will be someone else, somewhere, who will google you and either not care, or want you more.”

And I knew that. I know this. But it’s easy to forget. It’s so easy to forget how awesome we are. Sometimes it’s hard to believe ourselves when so many things happening in our lives are pointing to a conclusion that is completely opposite to everything we’ve worked so hard to believe. We have the odds stacked against us: ad agencies trying to define our ideals for us, movie producers trying to tell us what love looks like, fashion designers trying to convince us what beautiful is, total strangers trying to shame us for our bodies, our choices, and our desires. Working within this framework, it’s hard to remember we are amazing.¬† It is hard for everyone, and it takes work and sometimes we get tired. We forget that we have a perfect GPA. Or we forget that we can knit sweaters, or draw comics, or bake cakes, or run a marathon, or qualify as sharpshooters, or program like a motherfucker. We get worn down and exhausted and we start to think that life might be easier if we lost 30 pounds, or dyed our hair back to a natural colour, or covered up our tattoos, or took out our piercings, or stopped telling people about our girlfriend, or if we stopped wearing sheer shirts, or if we got a regular job, or if we weren’t poor or black or women, or if we just tried to be normal. Fuck the people who make us feel that way. Fuck them.

I’m embarrassed that I gave people the right to make me feel that way. For the moments I have sat at home the last few months, paralyzed by my indecision and uncertainty based on the opinions of a few people, or the realities of the expectations of an industry, or the pervasive attitude of an entire culture, I feel embarrassed.

But it’s understandable and forgivable.

So I think I’ll just continue to get naked and be inappropriate, thanks.

24 thoughts on “Real talk: Googling myself

  1. I love you doing you, in every iteration (even a temporary [or non] voluntarily self-edited you, because I can respect that choice, too, and even made that choice myself, for my own reasons and my own way of me doing me…), but I gotta confess: I love Matt, too. I love you plus Matt. One and one equals eleven if they stick really close but still remain separate! Yep. Yay!

  2. A while ago, I decided to Google myself and I found way too much of my personal stuff. I removed as much of me from the public search as I could. I shut down any blogs where I had spoken about my personal life and I took my real name off most of my accounts. This is mainly because I know I’m going to be looking for real grown up business jobs again soon and they’ll be looking.

    I took it too far though and now I’m trying to put myself back where I belong. If people want to hire me, they need to know what they’re getting themselves into. Katie West has the right idea. I heart Katie West.

  3. I’m with you.

    People sometimes express confusion or alarm when they realise that each of my identities is trivially found when searching for the other. Most especially in the direction of searching for my real name and finding my photographer alter ego.

    These people seem to have the mistaken impression that I created Veronika to protect my academic career, but I only did it so that my research can at least be found. The images and associated updates were dominating the google returns on my real name, and my other work was 5 or 6 pages deep. Now it oscillates between the first or second hit, with one of Veronika’s pages occupying the other spot.
    I think that’s perfect.

    I don’t want to work someplace that would reject me because my tits are on the internet. That doesn’t seem like a healthy environment to me. I do know that there are some places that won’t want me, but there are also places that don’t want me simply because I’m a woman or simply because of the way I dress. There is no consistent view on how I am to behave or appear or whatever and so there is no way to win that game. The only real option if I am to be happy is simply not to play.

    In any case, this is just my way of saying I agree and I think you’re excellent and thank you.
    For what it’s worth, I’d absolutely hire you.

  4. I am so glad to hear this. Sometimes it will be hard, but never as hard as not being yourself. Many hearts, Katie…

  5. This is why you are such an inspiration. You are strong enough to be vulnerable. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, and it is, but somehow you have found that balance. Your photos are so artistic, yet vulnerable because you often pose nude. However, because they are so artistic and not just snaps of you from a camera phone, the vulnerability enhances the photograph as a whole. You write about your vulnerabilities, but also how you are going to overcome them, that you won’t let a little self-doubt get in your way, and the writing is too powerful to ignore. You say that you give no fucks, but you obviously do because your work shows it. The quality and classiness of the things that you post, though often cheeky and border inappropriate, show that you do, indeed care about only putting quality material out there.

    And if an employer can’t see that, it’s obviously not a good fit.

  6. Hear Hear, Ms West. Hear Hear.

    I recently added the line “Freelance Consultant and Occult Systems Theorist” to my outgoing signature on all my business emails. Because I am. That’s what I do. It was only when I took to heart your example of Giving No Fucks that things started to really fall into place, for me.

    So yes.

  7. I love you. I love this. One of the things I love most about you is your self confidence to do what you yourself love and to stay true to who you are. It looks like you’ve found that again after getting side tracked (which we all do) – this makes me happy. …I’m horrible at writing things so that’s all.

    Faye

  8. You know, after years and years and a few days longer than that of following you all over the internet, what it really comes to do is that I admire the hell out of you. You are an inspiration and more of a role model than you might care to think about, and I hope that you never, never stop doing what you’re doing.

    You give us silly little people a bit of hope for better things.

  9. I’ve been thinking about the same thing lately. I’m starting to have a career as a writer. I write short stories and comics, most sci-fi. The problem is that being a woman and write those things in my country, Spain, is hard because we are just a few women doing that but also I do nude modeling now and then with nice photographers I like because I enjoy it and we make nice pictures, artistic pictures, as yours. I was worried that nobody will take me seriously because of that and I thought about not doing more modeling and try to hide the amazing pictures I’ve already done. I was confused but I’ve come to the same conclusion as you do. Fuck it! I am who I am and every aspect of my personality is what makes me who I am. That’s why I write what I write, I live the way I life and it’s my way. And it’s awesome. You are awesome. Keep being yourself, Katie, you rock.

  10. Matt is the best support for you and your art. Take care of him. Not many men understand their wife is nude at the inet.
    Love you are back. I missed your pics.

  11. There’s no easy way from the earth to the stars. Learning to accept oneself over what others may think is the only way I know of to truly not give a fuk. Consider yourself fortunate to have reached this juncture as strength comes out of adversity, weakness out of complacency. Re-examining your goals may be in order, you seem way to creative and smart for “higher education”. hah GJ

  12. I was at a festival once where the Fall were to be followed by the Pixies at the end of the final day. I watched the Fall and had to go and pee so thought I’d miss out on getting to the front for the Pixies, there was so many people. Then this Giant Dude appeared and strode through the crowd leaving a clear wake behind him, so i just followed and got to the front again for the Pixies’ set.

    You’re our Giant Dude for the internet Katie. Thanks for letting us get back to the mosh pit.

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