My new Bitmoji is my role model

I recently upgraded my phone. That is, my partner got a brand new phone, and I took his old phone, which had twice as many GBs as mine, and replaced its failing battery. Voila, it’s a new lease on mobile life pour moi.

Which meant I could afford the space to have Bitmoji back in my life. When I downloaded it again, it became clear I’d missed a lot while I was gone. Options seemed to have proliferated in my absence. More contours for faces, shapes for bodies, styles for hair, and fashions to suit more diverse lifestyles.

I began to design myself from scratch. How far apart are my eyes?

When creating my first bitmoji, the exciting thing was to create a little cartoon self that would be recognizable to friends and families as ME. So when I sent them my Bit-self jumping out of a birthday cake, they could really feel the love. I put myself in a blue dress, since eighty percent of my dresses were blue, and found the right shape for my glasses and the yellowest blond for my hair.

This time, a rebellious current ran through me. Maybe it was because I’d always been uncomfortable with my most-common-denominator-moji. Her hair was neater than mine was, and she wasn’t wearing any funky accessories. I was jealous of my friend whose bitmoji, in jeans, sneakers, and a hoodie, accurately represented her casual, comfortable approach to life. My last bitmoji was a bit of a striver, but not in a way that I felt good about.

Scrolling through new hair options, I saw that I could give myself a pink-over-blond dye job. This was in fact something I’d tried repeatedly in my bathroom over the years, with no success. Now, done in an instant.

Hair accessories? How about a small flower crown, to represent my undying California-hippie, urban-gardener streak. Lovely.

Red, heart-shaped glasses? I’ll be damned if I hadn’t tried some on just like that recently.

And lastly, it being just a week or two before Halloween, I saw that Bitmoji was offering not only clothes, but also costumes. I considered zombie, but that actually reflected how I felt inside (as the midterm elections crept ineluctably closer); too on the nose. How about a skeleton unitard? That was perfect. Fetching but not revealing, festive but dark. It complemented my pink hair and red glasses perfectly.

Done. I now looked like a fashion editorial, or the subject of a festival-culture documentary. Cross-genre, slightly unhinged, sexy but untouchable. She’s going somewhere unimaginable in this outfit, or perhaps she just lives in an otherworldly realm. She stands out, unafraid to be different, un-self-consciously flying her freak flag. She may just be my best self.

She is the exclamation point and underline and bold typeface of every sentiment I need to send. She isn’t just me, she is !ME!. She is never in a boring meeting or buying toilet paper. Even when I’m stuck in an unmoving subway car and late to a doctor’s appointment and hungry and cold and need to complain about it to somebody, bit-Me reminds sender and receiver alike: the person kvetching about this misery is vast and contains multitudes, and don’t you forget it.





Book Report: "Green," by Sam Graham-Felsen

Erasure: What is ruined in America