I’m not exactly sure when the term selfie was coined. However, I do remember I joined MySpace around 2005, and they demanded a “profile picture” which was typically one of your face. So unless you were a model with a portfolio, your only options were terribly scanned photos from years prior or cheesy posed party photos from your digital camera. Somewhere along the way, I started using my camera phone to take pictures of my own face. As did everyone else. These photos would eventually be deemed selfies. It’s even, like, a real word and everything now.
There is no denying technology and social media have altered the way we live and how easily the average person can document it. Some people embrace it (Me!), and some people don’t get it. Or they don’t care, and that’s okay too! Everyday, millions of people all over the world take photos of their food, their pets, their workouts, their cocktails, their views — pretty much anything they can fit in the phone lens shot. Of course, I forgot to mention the obvious — their faces. The selfie has evolved from a “profile pic” to a daily occurrence.
Like any trend over time, the buzz surrounding selfies created a stigma. With the creation of Instagram, a social media outlet solely for photo sharing, the selfie became something bad. An uproar of emotion that claimed anyone who posted a selfie was narcissistic and attention hungry. Suddenly, taking pictures of your own face made you an asshole. But hadn’t we all been doing that for years?
Here’s the thing: we live in a world where photo sharing and information are constantly at our fingertips. Many of us have latched on to this as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, brand ourselves, and network personally and professionally. Younger generations use it as one of their main forms of communication. Creations like the hashtag allow us to search seamlessly for others interested in and posting about the same topics as ourselves. So I want to take advantage of that. I want to turn a “bad thing” into a good thing. I want to remove the selfie stigma.
I have a 16 year old sister who deals with self esteem and body issues everyday. The same way I did, and the same way millions of other teenage girls do. If my sister can take a selfie and feel pretty in it, then who is anyone to take that away from her? All day long she can carry around those issues, but if one picture of her own face can help assuage that for any amount of time, I say go for it.
This isn’t just about teenage girls, (although as someone who once was one, I know they need it), this is about anyone struggling with a self esteem issue. Young or old. Boy or girl. If you’re embarrassed about your acne. If you’re coping with an eating disorder. If you’re a woman in a man’s body trying depserately to become who you really are. If you’re just having a bad day and need a pick me up. This is about everyone. This is about overcoming that inner struggle — even for mere moments. This is in defense of the selfie.
To bring everything full circle, this is what I’m proposing: let’s use the selfie and the hashtag for good. Let’s start a revolution. If everyone who reads this can take a moment and snap a photo of themselves where they feel beautiful in any way, then post it to social media with the hashtag #indefenseoftheselfie, perhaps we can make a change. Not for the selfie’s sake. But for every single person who participates and is encouraged to love themselves despite all outside influences. So go ahead. What are you waiting for? Take a selfie.