Why the Selfie Revolution Has Actually Helped Women

To selfie or not to selfie, that is always the question.

So, you might have heard. Selfie was the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013. However, it’s been around longer than you may think. It all started with MySpace back in the early 2000’s, when you needed a profile picture of you, and only you, so that your “friends” could find you easily. Early 2000 selfies can include but are not limited to awkward early teenage years, bathroom mirrors (don’t forget about the flash reflected in the mirror) and ancient looking cell phones (a Razr or Chocolate if you were cool). However, when Facebook came into the mix and wiped out MySpace, selfies nearly vanished as well. On Facebook, the informal idea was to post photos of yourself, taken by someone else, or to post photos of you and your friends. But with the introduction and popularization of Instagram in late 2010, selfies returned and have evolved to be even bigger than ever anticipated.

Image 

Ellen’s famous Oscar selfie

In today’s world, we are bombarded by pictures. We float between checking our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (selfie city right there) and are constantly stimulated by an exciting, yet deceiving online world. With the introduction of Instagram and Snapchat, selfies became an everyday activity, both privately and publicly.

So, my question is: Is the rise of the selfie into everyday life positively or negatively impacting our culture, specifically for women?

Common arguments like to suggest that taking selfies come from our culture becoming more narcissistic. An article from the Associated Press, for example, points out that, “Beverly Hills, Calif., psychiatrist Carole Lieberman sees narcissism with a capital N. ‘The rise of the selfie is a perfect metaphor for our increasingly narcissistic culture. We’re desperately crying out: Look at me!’” But I don’t see it that way.

Image

Kim Kardashian: AKA selfie Queen

Taking a cue from Starbucks, the way I see it is that people are using selfies to document the everyday things that happen in life instead of only taking photos at parties, vacations or other “special events”. I mean, when I look back to the pictures of my first year of college, I can honestly say that about 80% are saved snapchats. Of those snapchats, 90% are selfies either of me or my friends. But how special is that? Now, because taking selfies has become so commonplace, it’s socially acceptable to snap a picture of yourself, well, anywhere. We now have recorded evidence of everything: from that run (okay, it was more of a walk, but we can call it a run) that you took yesterday to the scrumptious milkshake you inhaled after said run, we have selfie proof that it happened. But even better than that, another important thing has happened in the selfie revolution, and that is that the emphasis has moved from girls posting pictures of their bodies to posting pictures of their faces. Instead of posting photos of our bodies, sexualizing ourselves for men to ogle us and women to envy us, we are posting our beautiful faces. Who cares if we are duck lipping it (a personal fave) or if we put a filter on it? We are reclaiming the idea that we hold more beauty in our faces than our bodies. Our faces tell a story of where we’ve been and who we are, whether that’s through the dimple in your cheek or the lines on your forehead from when you frown.

Image 

Even Mona Lisa takes selfies 

So, I say take all the selfies you want! We have the power each and everyday to choose how we view the world. You can view selfies as a self centered thing saying, “look at me” or you can choose to understand that there’s more to a selfie than what meets the eye. Take Cancer Research UK for example, who took the selfie fad as an excuse to promote cancer research and inner beauty by having women post selfies with the hashtag #nomakeupselfie. By promoting selfies and teaching young girls that it’s okay to be confident in themselves and take selfies and be proud of the people they are, then we are helping to raise a generation of women who believe that they are enough. We are teaching them that they are not their bodies and that by controlling the way in which the picture is taken, everyone can feel confident and happy with having their picture taken. When we have a generation of women who gravitate towards cameras instead of shying away from them, that’s when I will know that we’ve done our job in creating a generation of women who are happy, confident and understand their worth, both in front of and behind the camera. Until then, keep taking those selfies.

Of course, I couldn’t write this without including my own selfie. So alas, here you go.

Image

Me at the top of the Empire State building in NYC… couldn’t pass up the opportunity! 

How do you view selfies? Are they empowering, a fad, or just downright ridiculous? I’d love to know what you think! 

UPDATE: This post was featured on Feminspire, so check it out here!

Advertisements

4 comments

  1. Reblogged this on Cupcake. and commented:
    Why do we take selfies?

    To me, this is very intriguing to talk about because it involves deeper thinking. For everyone, I think the answer is different. We are surrounded by different people who post for different reasons. That makes answering my question hard.
    I will be honest, I post selfies when I look especially good, or am doing something rather exciting then my normal day to day activities.
    Social media has done a great job in creating a platform for its users to design a life that they think others would enjoy keeping up with.
    With that said, more and more women are using sites like Instagram and Facebook to post photos that are edited and altered to be more appealing. I say women because it is primarily women who edit photos in pursuit of a modelesque image usually associated with photos of models in magazines and advertisements. It would be interesting to post photos honestly without editing them.
    Selfie revolution? #nofilter

    1. I especially appreciate your comment about how we tend to paint a picture on social media that is often times not the real story. We post the good things and forgo the bad ones, which creates an unrealistic representation of our lives. But it’s tough to stop- and I think your point on the edited/altered pictures is also something that should be considered. However, do you think that we now have a generation of women and young girls who aren’t camera shy and who seem more confident in having their pictures taken, even if they’re altered a little bit?

      Thanks for commenting and reading!

  2. Reblogged this on Skinny Feels… and commented:
    I’m glad you brought this up, selfie culture is such a double edged sword because on one had it can mean great things. Being proud of who you are and your body can be an empowering thing, however it can also in turn shame other women into submitting to a culture that tells them they are never good enough. There is a new body obsession trending with women striving to have a “thigh gap” and many women have posted picture of their “progress” often clearly photoshopped. As a twenty one year old who actively studies women in the media I am able to differentiate what is real and look past (with some effort) negative messages, but what about the girls who are going into their teen years who know social media to be very much a part of their everyday reality? We need to do better as a culture in order for young women to understand that feeling good does not stem from how your external appearance looks. There is a better way to empower young women than shaming them into trying to fit the narrow limits for beauty that the patriarchy sets for them.

    1. I agree- it is a slippery slope and social media usage of teens and kids needs to be evaluated and ultimately, I believe that courses need to be taught in school about how to behave appropriately online that also sheds light on being critical of the media that’s out there. If we can have a generation of young people who have been taught to critically approach media and ideas of beauty, I think we might finally be able to see changes. Thanks for commenting!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s