I Don’t Know What it Means to be Real – GUNMETAL GEISHA


Note: To avoid confusion, please insert winks liberally.

I don’t love hashtags. I’ll hashtag on Instagram because I have it in my head that it’ll get me followers. I also use it sparingly on Twitter to promote my blog. Wanting followers is something I can easily be real about. (Imagine a hashtag before “be real.”)

But does it count if we’re real only when it comes easily to us? I don’t know the answer, which means maybe I don’t know what it is to be real.

I can’t even comfortably stick a hashtag in here because it conflicts with some image of myself as the cool outlier, the renegade baddy but goody who struts around with a self-authored rulebook.

I’m the girl who doesn’t have any tattoos because everyone has them. (If I had the balls, I’d get sleeves. That’s different.) I text “haha” because I refuse to be an lol-er. I don’t watch reality shows for the same reason I don’t wear fanny packs. And hashtags — I was into them way back for everything other than their function as searchable tags.

Hashtags were my punchlines and subtext. Witness a sampling from 2010-12:


Roads define my existence. Crossroads, roads-less-traveled, roadblocks, off-roads, road trips. A little road rage. #LiteralPlusMetaphorical

I have the answer, I just don’t listen to myself. #ThereinLiesTheProblem

I’m in Sri Lanka shooting a film and outside my hotel window someone keeps practicing “It’s a Small World” on a snake-charmer flute. #NoJoke

Last night I skitched in heels on snow-covered road out the car door, driver did same. Car drove itself. #FunIsNotAlwaysSane

“If you’re not fond of fake,” the commercial says. Meanwhile every commercial exists to pander to your desire for fake/new/other. #WhichOneIsIrony

Anyone else besides me, and apparently all the Asian nations, afraid of the number 4? #SoWhatIGetOneSuperstition


But it’s not for the hashtags that I shared those with you. You want me to be real? OK. I really picked those to say, see how interesting I am, see what a life I lead, check out my brain. Everything I wrote is absolutely true and real. But you don’t see any tweets about me wearing the same sweatpants and watching Dexter for three straight days with a clump of hummus in my hair. That’s real too.

By the time I became active on Twitter again, a popular tweeter set me straight: hashtags were passé. He meant in the old manner, but I developed an all-around allergy to them.

Everything I did on social networks was to coddle my self-image. We all want love, attention and respect. “Follow me, I’m pretty. Follow me, I’m funny. Follow me, everyone else does.” Popularity begets popularity. I had the respect, but I wasn’t so popular. You just can’t be both an outlier and popular. To be popular, you have to conform.

To this day, I’ve resisted starting a Facebook page because I don’t want to conform. But equally because I groan at the work involved to build followers, and in the meantime, I’d be embarrassed at a low number of page “likes.” Pathetic, right? Yet most of us are prey to the same social media bullshit. Especially if we have a blog that we want people to read. It’s exhausting to monitor how “on” we are — intelligent / interesting / funny / badass. But oh, that high we get off of whatever admiration is doled out to us.

So I just don’t know what it means to be real when it comes to the online world. We might share our flaws and failings, and still, it’d be designed to garner admiration for our bravery.

Even if #BeReal were simply referring to physical appearance, is it about unfiltered but carefully-picked selfies?

Is it about our bodies, shortcomings and all? Because if that’s the case, I’ll be real and say, I’m never going to show you a picture of my ass in a bikini in unkind light. I don’t even want to look at it. Instead, I’d find a bright patch of sunlight — the effective “no-filter” filter — and in the picture you’d simply see the tone of my legs and the curve of my buttocks, which might lead you to believe I work out even though I may live like a shut-in.

But the truth? The truth is spider veins on my saddle bags, and a bit of ripply under-butt that’s starting to get harder to act like isn’t there.

“Real” for me means being relieved that I like most of what my genes cooked up for me. It also means admitting I have flaws and calling them flaws. I believe in self-acceptance rather than this movement where we’re supposed to pretend that flaws aren’t flaws but something beautiful. I’m not calling the things that aren’t pretty, pretty, and I’m also not displaying them. A personal choice is valid whether we’re bold and unabashed in the way we present ourselves, or reserved and selective. Neither way is less or more real, because “real” is whatever way we are.

I do have selfies without make-up or filters, which still happen to be flattering — today, I’m not showing you those either. That’s because being real means even though my worst shortcomings are off-limits, I’m not playing the compensation game by selecting the good-bad picture of me to pass off as an act of courage. That’s the one where I look like a goofball or show my age or the bags under my eyes, but is still flattering because of some brazen or charming aspect.

Today, as much as I want you to see me through my crafted self-image, I’ll admit to you instead that I am vain. I would say I’m working on it, but I haven’t gotten farther than more successfully affecting modesty. At least I’m also kind and intelligent.

Elsewhere of course, I’ll continue to show you those artful selfies. I haven’t stopped wanting followers and people to read my blog. But as vain as I am, it’s my brain I want you to love. For example, I’ve never posted a picture of (just) my cleavage even though I have great boobs. If I made them the star of my show, they might draw thousands of followers. But my damn pride is bigger than my vanity: love my brain, read my words.

And maybe once in a while, I’ll sell out, turn some of you off even as I titillate others of you, and write with no shame about my “rad, natural breasts.”

That’s part joke and part making a point. Also, it’s genuine admiration for my boobs as if they were someone else’s. (Apply winkies.)

Whether in words or pictures, we all have any number of choices in how to present ourselves. Some are easier and others, more impactful. But since all of it is measured, neither gets a greater or lesser stamp of “real.”

In the end, I’m Gunmetal Geisha and me being real means coming here to talk about my sorry-shape ass and “perfect” breasts because I want you to look at me on Instagram, chuckle at me on Twitter, and read me on my blog.

What’s your personal definition of “real”?

56 thoughts on “I Don’t Know What it Means to be Real – GUNMETAL GEISHA

  1. I think I just love YOU, Gigi. I don’t know how you manage to wax so beautifully lyrical at the same time as sending yourself up for refusing to conform, whilst not conforming, yet in the end, angling for the same things we all want.

    You’re marvellous 🙂


    • Wow, the “L” word from you! I see your permanent move to American must be imminent, then.

      Praise from you is a treat, seeing as how I love your mind, your words and your whole self, of course.

      (How’s that for “L” word overload?)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I shall come and whisk everyone off their respective feets, and stay forever! I hear there are at least three kidnap plots afoot! But seriously, I’ve been working very hard to feel more secure in being able to say things like that little ol’ ‘L’ word, without freaking out about feeling vulnerable, and I’m finally, FINALLY getting there. I’m very grateful to Hasty, as it was she who showed me the way, and took so long (I don’t know how far in the past now, but a long time ago) to explain to me her understanding of what it was to tell someone you love them, and she helped to loosen my little uptight, panicked heart.

        So yes. I do. I say it and mean it for all the meaning it contains within the context of the relationship with the person to whom it is said. And I adore you and think you’re fabulous. And it’s made me all *glowy* that you said it back 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I loved the post, and certainly know what was in your #heart in writing it. But you can’t expect to be so #honest that you are no longer part of the #humanrace…#infallible, #searching, #yearning. Go easy on yourself. Be #selftolerant. If you ever achieve #perfection, you’ll have left those of us who #love you behind.


  3. {{{{“Follow me, I’m pretty. Follow me, I’m funny. Popularity begets popularity. I had the respect, but I wasn’t so popular.}}}}

    I’m still not in the popular group. It’s like all of the beautiful blonde cheerleaders won’t let me inside. Still.

    #GreatBlog #GroovyWords #BeingPopularSUCKS


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. This is something I really needed to read today. My “friend” is blowing up my comment thread on my last post and I’m feeling a little shitty.
    PS I love hashtags as punchlines. I do it a lot myself 😉


  5. Geisha, I just found your blog a week or so ago and I just want to say I really admire your honesty and openness. It’s people like you that deserve all the followers, not the people with the perfect selfies and butts.


    • Cheney, thanks for the lovely sentiment. I think we all get to want/have followers, even the perfect selfie-takers. I honestly can’t blame them, even though it might not be the exact approach I choose for myself.


  6. Haha. No I mean LOL. I love this, and I do the same. With me it feels like the ‘young nerdy weird kid who likes being a loner because the rest of the world is boring’ inside me fights with the ‘nerdy weird kid who grew up and realised she loves herself and has a lot to share and the rest of the world can be awesome too’.

    And Sri Lanka Ohherrr I went there! I instantly like you because of it. 🙂


      • 8 weeks. It was my ‘spend my Grandad’s inheritance and figure out who I am’ trip. I volunteered in the hospital in Kandy for the first month then went for a wander round Aragum bay, Tangalla, Ella, and Negumbo.


          • No 😦 I have my scribbled notes in the Lonely Planet book I carried everywhere with me, and lots and lots of photos. I wrote a weekly blog while I was there but I do this thing when winter hits and my brain goes south where I delete everything off the internet. I really should rewrite some of the memories before dementia or wine starts attacking them. Hah. I think you’ve just helped me decide wheat to do with my days off next week.


            • The thing is, sometimes the second time around makes the writing better. I’ve never deliberately deleted stuff, but after the burn of accidentally losing a piece, the re-writes were improved over the original. So there’s always that…

              I was only there for a week, and mainly in Colombo. I didn’t write anything about it, but I shot a lo-res, crap phone video. If you feel like it, check out my Sri Lanka post.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. “I haven’t gotten farther than more successfully affecting modesty”

    I think this is awesome. My whole life is a lie that I have artfully learned to pass off as being honest and true. And I’m not about to stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I used to get so angry when people would use hashtags in texts or on Facebook (I’m talking years ago). They didn’t know that hashtags were a way to group a topic or search for a topic or archive… So yeah, I was a hashtag snob because I thought I was more savvy. Now I enjoy using them for humor every once in a while or just to annoy people by being a smart ass.

    I get what you’re saying. I don’t want to jump on any bandwagon. I get annoyed by people getting swept up those things. Maybe it’s just the desire to be different? To set ourselves apart from the masses? A little bit vain but also just wanting to not be part of the crowd… And the selfies. I posted one for #BeReal on Facebook. It wasn’t flattering, you could see sunspots on my face and wrinkles around my eyes and I was horribly uncomfortable with it. But I made myself post it to prove a point about #BeReal. Then people started complimenting me and I really felt like an ass, like I’d been fishing for compliments. Ugh. So what I’m saying is I relate to what you’re saying here. And it is real. Honestly real.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Gretchen, you totally got it.

      As far as hashtags, I liked them for humor (and I certainly still use them for grouping and archiving). I wish the popular tweeter hadn’t “set me straight” because I’d have kept using them as I liked without knowing any better. So much for not caring what people think, huh?


  9. Love this post and you too! I have seen and read you from time to time and loved your writing! As for selfies, not me! I don’t like taking them or posting them with or without filter!


    • Thank you, pirate person!

      I have to tell you, I have a secret admiration for those who refrain from selfies. No way am I a selfie-hater, but there’s got to be something said for those who possess zero compulsion to self-display in that manner.

      It’s too easy and too tempting to point that lens toward yourself. I do it and I probably won’t stop.


  10. This is a great post about the topic of being real.
    I don’t take selfies either. I show off through my writing. Like you said, I like to think I am just trying to be real, but I know I get something out of finding out someone has read my thoughts. That’s as real as I can be. No shots of myself in a bathing suit any time soon.


  11. Holy shit.

    Sometimes people will comment on my blog and tell me how they feel a connection and how good it feels to be understood and I think…oh, that’s nice.

    Then I read this and all I can think to say is…wow, it feels so good to feel this connection. I understood this in all of me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: I Put Time in a Headlock for You | Gunmetal Geisha

  13. Omg, I love this. I really do.
    And I refuse to do a “real” selfie for the sake of saying “look at me all brave” because I’m not. I’m not comfortable in my skin, and While I confess to jonesing over other bloggers numbers i struggle with all the hoops to jump to get them.
    And #whoknewhashtagsweremeanttobesearchable.


  14. Pingback: Being Real, Really | Cautious Realism

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