I have been reading a lot of stuff recently in defense of the selfie. I personally freaking love selfies. LOVE THEM. I have been called the selfie queen twice in the last week. I take this as a compliment (although at least one time I'm pretty sure it was intended as anything but...)

The invention of the front-facing iphone camera is right up there for me with fast fashion and sliced bread. In fact, I like it more than sliced bread. I'm not going to compare myself to Vincent Van Gogh or talk about the great art of the self portrait. I have a mission. The selfie is my number one tool in accomplishing this mission.

See, way back in the day, when I found out that I had CANCER, I googled. I googled like nobody has ever googled before. And what I found filled me with so much fear, anxiety, stress and soul crushing panic that I vowed I would document every step of my journey. And I would make it look beautiful. I would make myself look beautiful.

Now, this may have been a silly task in the spectrum of "I got cancer for a reason, and my reason is to make the world a better place by (fill in the blank)." Sure, I could probably help raise money, or educate people (and I do both of those things whenever I can.)

But I get a little miffed when people say some variation of "You have cancer - how can you still be worried about how you look?" Yes, people have said this to me. Often with the absolute best of intentions and often with a compliment on how great I look. And I have a reaction to it, a joke that I make, where I say "Listen, I got cancer, not a personality transplant." This answer is funny, it makes people laugh. But to be honest, I'm get a little sick of having to justify caring about how I look.

Do I wish I was the kind of person who gave that extra $100 I've been saving to a cancer charity instead of buying myself that gorgeous pair of shoes I've been dreaming about? Of course I do. Sometimes I make that choice. But sometimes I buy the shoes. Or the perfect baby blue motorcycle jacket. 

To me, wanting to be beautiful or stylish or caring about how you look is not a terrible thing to be ashamed of. I have a really healthy self-esteem about my appearance. I know I am good looking. I love clothes and make-up and exercising. I feel good in my own skin. I have occasional days where I say mean things about my body and my looks, but in general I try really really hard not to do that and to focus on the things I like about myself. In addition to liking my face and how some clothes fit me, I also like my brain and my sense of humor. I try to be a good friend, and a good daughter.  I work hard when I commit myself to something, and I love people freely and with reckless abandon.

Does caring about how I look and wanting other people to think I look nice somehow make me a worse person? I don't think so. I think it makes me human.

So, yes, really I cared about how I looked, and I still care about how I look. I care a lot. I care (gasp)  even though I have cancer. I like to be complimented on how I look. It makes me feel good.

Those of you who have never faced down the barrel of losing everything that makes you feel good about yourself, makes you feel like a woman, makes you feel pretty, I envy you. But I also know being a girl is hard enough when you are healthy or without a sympathy inducing medical diagnosis that makes strangers stop you on the street and tell you how good you look with your bald head.

Taking a selfie is like saying - "Hey, World, I feel like I look good today." YOU DO. YOU LOOK AMAZING. The fact that you like yourself right now (on the outside, where other people can see it) makes you look spectacular. That angle, that lighting, that outfit - perfection. Thank you for sharing your confidence and your self-love with me. It's so much better than the alternative, a world where girls bash themselves all the time.

These selfies I post every single day, these search results that I have populated the internet with, how do you think that makes people feel who are facing down the barrel of the same gun? It makes them feel better. I know it does, because they write me and tell me that. And every single time I get one of those messages, or a new follower on my baldspiration board, it makes me feel so good I feel like glitter is about to explode out of my skin. Not just because they are telling me they think I look good (although thank you for that) but because they are telling me that they think they can look good too. That chemo is not the self-esteem death sentence we all think it is. That they will still be fierce, gorgeous, sexy girls with or without hair.



My many selfies have become a way to show the world that every step of the way through cancer, chemo, and out the other side, that it is possible to be fierce and hot and sexy and stylish and beautiful. With the right attitude, and some retail therapy, you can face down anything and still feel good about yourself. That is why I love selfies.

Google "growing your hair back after chemo" and you will see about 500 million selfies of me. I will be the top search result above the Mayo Clinic and Health.com. And I look AWESOME. I know I do. I don't need you to tell me that, but I don't mind when you do.

So maybe, the next time you see a #selfie, you think "cool, I love how that person is liking themselves today." Feeling good about yourself is hard to do...Instead of condemning these people why not celebrate it? Why not encourage people to seek out the beauty in themselves instead of shaming them for it?

In fact, tag me in your selfies** (@denajulia on instagram, @denajulias on twitter) and I will like your selfie and tell you how amazing you look. Because everyone has beauty in them, and it can be so hard to look at yourself and find it. We are all facing our own battles, even if you can't see them, and a little more love and complimenting people can't possibly be a bad thing.


**Please no genitalia, ok?