BY SARA FABIAN
As the “selfie” becomes the word of 2013, according to Oxford Dictionaries, I want to take the time to look at the social media craze that has gripped pop stars, politicians, and even the Pope. A selfie is a self-portrait taken on a camera before the taker uploads it to a social network, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for their friends or “followers” to see and “like.” We’re all guilty of snapping a few selfies from time to time (don’t tell me you’ve never done it). People condemn the selfie. They look at it as a narcissistic, selfish cry for attention.
But they couldn’t be further from the truth. It is time to stop misdiagnosing self love in the diagnosis of so many modern ills. Self love has its virtues
But is there more to the insecurity and narcissism associated with these personal photos that flood our Instagram feeds? As our faces, bodies, and our self-esteem change, so does what we learn from taking these very up close and personal photos of ourselves. We live in a society that has ridiculous beauty standards, where every surface we see is splashed with highly retouched images of people who fit the “perfect” aesthetic. Something that we humans are not. We are taught to compare ourselves to others, to admire the perfect pictures of the perfect people. We covet the images, we point to them and command, “I want to look like that!” But, in the age of the selfie we are reclaiming our self esteem, creating raw forms of inherent beauty.
We are taking pictures of ourselves and sharing them on social media, hanging them in our homes, and giving them to friends and family as gifts. And the reason is this: We aren’t perfect. We aren’t airbrushed. We are real. And we want to see real people, people who are different and have flaws, who aren’t in magazines. We are creating our own definition of beauty. With so much pressure put on us to look like artifical, is it any wonder that we decided to take matters into our own hands? Literally. Fuller-figured people are snapping pictures of themselves to show the world the self love and respect they have in their mind, body, and soul.
We are finally casting off our feelings of inferiority and embracing ourselves. We are proud of overcoming our hurdles, body image issues, and self loathing. We share our pictures to show people that we are no longer afraid of being photographed, and that people of all, sizes, sexual identity, genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds are lovely and beautiful.
Selfies are this generation’s way of coping with years of body policing from the media, our friends, family, and strangers. Selfies are a way for us to give people who bullied us about our looks or weight the middle finger and say “I will not hate myself because you cannot accept me.”
Everyone is posting selfies for one reason or another, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
We are finally embracing who we are and how we look. We are taking back our bodies and publishing pictures of them on social media, not for attention (well, not just for attention) but to say “Look at me, I love my body and I love who I am!” Instead of pining after the body and looks of a supermodel, or the muscles and strength of a world-renowned weight lifter. We are creating our own definition of beautiful, we are embracing our flaws and challenging social norms.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with seeking others’ approval, for having a healthy identity can, in part, depend on paying careful attention to what others think of us. Furthermore, the need to be appreciated is a foundation of psychological well being. Perhaps it is time to turn “selfies” and the social media into a therapeutic tool, at the service of the public. We all want to see realistic forms of beauty, so what better way than to represent yourself, with your own beauty, your own style, no Photoshopping, just you the way you look?