I’m not big on selfies, but as part of our self-love theme word, Courtney wanted to write a post about why we should think twice about judging someone for posting too many selfies. She delves into the psychology and statistics behind selfies and challenges us to think on a deeper level about the person behind the selfie. I’m still not sure I’ll start posting selfies, but as usual, her post is thoughtful and compassionate.
Read on for Courtney’s post about selfies and self-love!
A few months ago, I had a conversation with my grandma. One of my second cousins was posting selfies pretty much every day on Facebook, and my grandma wanted to know why. She asked me, “Is she that obsessed with herself?” This wasn’t asked in a mean way. My grandma was genuinely concerned.
But I thought about it for a minute, and here’s what I told her. I used to be so scared of posting selfies because I thought people would judge me for it. I’m not alone in this fear. Based on these statistics from a TODAY/AOL study “nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of millennials (those age 16-34) worry that people are judging their appearance” (source).
However, after tentatively posting a few selfies of my own, I realized two things. First, usually when I’m worried about people judging me it’s because I’m judging myself. When I put the first one up, I imagined people thinking the same thing about me that my grandma thought about my cousin, that I’m in love with myself, maybe even obsessed, and that—gasp!—I’m audacious enough to think I’m pretty. But the truth is, I am in love with myself. And if people want to judge me for that, let ’em. I don’t let what other people think stop me from doing things that bring me joy.
To give you an idea of my selfie style, most of my selfies include me making goofy faces at the camera. I started doing this because I didn’t want people to think I take myself too seriously. But by presenting myself as “goofy,” I’m engaging in something called “identity work.” An article from Everyday Sociology says that identity work is a concept that explains the “strategies individuals use to transform personal identity avowals to social identity imputations. In other words, we each have a sense of who we are and who we want to be (personal identity) and through our actions we hope to have this particular self-conception reflected back to us by others (social identity)” (source). Basically, selfies are a quick and easy way for us to put ourselves out there in the way we want to be seen. If I want to be seen as silly and carefree, I post a picture of myself with an intentional double chin! I get a laugh. My friends get a laugh. Everyone gets a laugh!
Which brings me to the second thing I realized—selfies are fun and make me feel confident. If we want to get purely scientific about it, photos with faces get 38% more likes and 32% more comments (source). When we post a selfie and it gets a lot of likes and comments, it makes us feel good about ourselves. Pure and simple.
But for me, selfies get even more fun when I bring in other people. For instance, it’s bluebonnet season in Texas right now. So last month, I met up with three friends—Lauren, Katie, and Erin—to have a friends’ photo shoot in a field of bluebonnets. When I showed up, Lauren had bought a selfie stick. We all laughed at her, and she laughed at herself. She told us she felt so self-conscious about carrying it out into the field, but in the end, buying the selfie stick was an amazing decision. We laughed so hard trying to figure out how it worked and then taking fun, silly pictures of ourselves. A few minutes into our shoot, we stopped caring about the people around us and ended up spending an hour laughing our butts off.
Another thing about selfies, up until maybe a year or so ago, I never thought I was pretty or attractive. Those weren’t words I would ever dream of using to describe myself. To do so now feels terrifying and revolutionary.
Part of me still balks at the idea because I want to believe that looks don’t matter, or at least that what’s inside counts more. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other because deep down, for most people, our looks matter to us. How I dress, my hair, my makeup, all of it matters to me. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t spend time worrying about it, so pretending I don’t care feels false.
Overall I don’t see selfies as a sign of our generation’s decay. I see them more as a sign of evolution, the beginning of an era where we examine ourselves and become more self-aware and more self-accepting than ever before, more centered around empathy. Anytime I post a selfie, it takes a certain boldness that doesn’t come naturally to me, but I like to think of it as a small expression of self-love, a reminder to laugh at myself, to enjoy the life I’ve been given, and to flaunt my beauty.
Because it’s okay to admit to myself and to the world that I’m beautiful.
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