I should be clear here, I love other people’s selfies, my own not so much. But we will get to that.
There is a Jezebel article doing the rounds at the moment about how selfies aren’t empowering, they represent the ultimate in marketing to convince youth that their value lies in their attractiveness. I think this is a very narrow view of who uses selfies and also a bit of generalising about the youth market. My kids aren’t teenagers yet but they love taking selfies. I love them taking selfies too because I have all these awesome photos of my kids that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
I was introduced to the whole selfie thing by women taking and posting Outfit of the Day photos. Not only was it great for my wardrobe – where did you buy that gorgeous outfit? but also for my perceptions of beauty and my own understanding of how I had been schooled into thinking within very narrow confines of what was beautiful, which given the amount of photoshopping that goes on isn’t realistic anyway.
I love selfies because they capture a moment in your life when you felt like taking a photo. You are out having a great time with your friends, you are home alone on the couch eating potato chips, your cat is treating you like its personal chair *waves to Mim* because it is a moment to share with your friends. Sure it might be a time you are feeling that you look particularly good, or know that you don’t (or think you don’t) or just want to share what your cat thinks is reasonable behaviour. But it allows me a tiny glimpse into your life and I feel that I know you that little bit better. Also it allows me to admire your hair colour or lipstick or whatever. Quite simply it is great people watching that I can do from my own computer. But not in a creepy way. Really.
WOC commenters on Twitter have pointed out that selfies are some of the only times that they see real hair and real skin tone. That is quite a sad and sobering statement. They only see depictions of people like themselves when they take the photos themselves. That is deeply fucked. I suspect that never seeing images of people like themselves would have more impact on youth than the odd selfie. Although as a privileged white woman I see plenty of white people on TV, rarely are they fat unless it is headless as a dire warning on the nightly news. But this is not in any way equivalent to the almost complete erasure of any POC. ETA: this link to Trudy’s post on tumblr. Follow her on twitter @thetrudz.
I love selfies because sometimes it is my friends’ way of saying ‘I feel okay about myself today’ or “I’m not letting the bastards get me down’. When you are separated by geographical distance and can’t pop over to offer tea and hugs it is important to know that they are okay. Selfies also allow me to keep up with what is happening in their lives: new haircut, fab new dress, new tattoo.
I have been told to take selfies because they help with self esteem. Take a photo a day until you aren’t worried about being in photos anymore. I know it has worked for people, but I haven’t taken the plunge yet. Soon. Maybe.
I’m going to leave you with this lovely post from Chrys at Gladly the Cross Eyed Bear. She is so right.