The concept of ‘selfies’ gets a bad rap. The word is likely to make you think of annoying tourists almost knocking you out with a bizarre arm-extending pole – or that time we all facepalmed because Oxford dictionaries named ‘selfie’ word of the year in 2013.
But people – mostly women – get a lot out of taking selfies. Taking a photo when you think you look good, posting it immediately to the internet and getting instant gratification for it is something previous generations never got to do. And we’re lucky to be able to share our faces so quickly and easily with the world.
The ‘selfie’ has been around long before the word became such commonplace in everyday language. It has been revolutionised in recent years by the increase of smartphones with good cameras, and more importantly, front-facing cameras. We didn’t always have this luxury; yet if you speak to any girl with a decent history of Myspace, we’ve been perfecting the selfie with a well-practised aim of a digital camera since about 2005.
It was a huge confidence boost, and played an integral part in my general self-esteem as a teenager.
Writing this now I can remember my favourite ‘selfies’ from that era, the ones that got the most comments on Myspace or even the ones that got ‘owned’ by a particular top-friend (you know you did that). And I can remember loving the attention, which was mostly entirely platonic from my peers. As a dorky teenager with low self-esteem finally finding my feet in a horrendous emo-kid world, friends throwing ‘<3 <3’ at me or complimenting my hair, eye make-up or outfit was a huge confidence boost, and played an integral part in my general self-esteem as a teenager.
And that’s the magical thing about selfies. Selfies are all about confidence. You take them when you feel confident, post them, and importantly you’re positively reinforced by the responses. The most magical thing is the reinforcing. As much as I love posting a photo of myself that I like and having a friend tell me I look great – I absolutely adore the opportunity to tell my friends they look great too.
Some of my best female friendships involve the absolute delight of seeing them look at their best, look happy and confident, and the delight of telling them how amazing they look. The wonderful world of female positivity means we encourage each other to feel confident, and selfies fall right at the heart of that.
Selfies fall right at the heart of female positivity; we encourage each other to feel confident.
It’s easy to dismiss selfies as plain vanity – but self-love is an incredibly important thing which shouldn’t be dismissed. Taking the opportunity to capture how you look, editing it in whichever way you please, and posting it up on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or wherever else is a really powerful thing to do.
It’s taking control of your self-image and allowing a platform for positivity from your friends, it’s showing that you are you and you’re choosing to present yourself in that way – for whatever reason you choose. It might be a good outfit, it might be a rare win for your never-ending war with your eyebrows, maybe a particularly body-positive day – or maybe, actually, you feel a bit like shit but you know your friends will boost your confidence back up.
Selfies are an exercise of self-love, and they encourage us all to feel more positively about not only ourselves, but about each other. And to me, that’s a powerful thing.
This blog post supports the #SeeMySelfie by Girl Gang Manchester and Girl Gang Sheffield, which explores selfies as self portraiture, self representation and self acceptance. Check out the hashtag on `Twitter and Instagram to join the conversation!