Celebrating the Selfie

By WWN Intern Rachel Cohen

Last week, as a student at UW Madison, I was on spring break. Seeing as how this is our last spring break of our undergraduate career, my friends and I figured we should go big and spent our week in Las Vegas. While this is surely not the place for details of my trip, I would like to comment on something that I heard time and time again while out at about the Strip. 

This song:

While this song is indeed ridiculous, it accounts for a phenomenon that seems to have become a distinct marker of my generation, the selfie. More specifically, girls of my generation are known for taking copious pictures of themselves. When Snapchat (a selfie based app) rejected Facebook’s offer of a whopping $3 billion, it became very clear that the selfie was here to stay. While the selfie is a prolific and pervasive trend, it is also one that has come under great fire.

We millenials are often categorized as self-obsessed and self-centered, with our love for selfies as a prime example of such.  Here, in the New York Times, Dr. Jean M. Twenge describes millenials as the “Me Generation.” The act of not only taking pictures of ourselves, but sharing and posting them frequently seems to suggest that today’s young women are self-absorbed and narcissistic, that we believe that of course everyone must be interested in what we look like multiple times a day. The selfie is so ubiquitous that this blog, Selfies at Funerals, (it’s exactly what you think it is) is on the first page of results when I googled the word ‘selfie.’

Yet when I look around, I do not see a world that promotes female narcissism. I see ad after ad for beauty products to make me look better, models with bodies I will never be able to attain, and constant messaging telling me that good looks are one of my most (if not the most) important trait I can possess. This realization that women and girls are surrounded by an atmosphere of unhealthy and unattainable images is not new. While there are new campaigns promoting body positivity and self-love, they are far outnumbered by photo-shopped images telling us we are not good enough. 

So when I see a selfie, I do not see it as a marker of vanity. A selfie says “I think I look good, and I want to share that with everyone.” A selfie is a statement of confidence, an act of reassurance, and a proclamation that rejects the self-hate force fed to girls. Sure, maybe when I put a closeup of my face that I clearly took myself, cast in the beautiful filter that is Valencia, marked with #selfiesunday, I am acting a bit self-absorbed, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

If selfies mark confidence in our own bodies then all hail the selfie! Instead of giving in to the marketing that tells girls that they are not good enough the way they are, let’s celebrate our faces and share that love with the world. I encourage everyone reading this to take a picture of yourself, proclaim your self-love, and share it with others. For inspiration here’s me at the WWN office:

image
Hi!

Now go take a selfie and love your face!

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