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Why I Refuse to Apologize for My Selfies

02/02/2015 11:56 am ET | Updated Mar 16, 2015

About two years ago I caved and let my friends set up an Instagram for me, though I swore I would never use it. Five hundred photos later, I've not only used it, but also capitalized on it as a way to share what I'm up to, what I'm eating and where I am.

Frequently, I share a selfie, sometimes alone, often with friends. I don't really think about what I post; I just post it and deal with the consequences (selfies apparently do have consequences).

One of the most frustrating consequences lately is people telling me that I post too many selfies. You wouldn't think selfies would get to anyone, but they apparently do. I have long wondered why my selfies are such a controversial thing to some. one of my other friends are chastised for their self-portraiture, so why am I? Is a photo of my face that dangerous to you? What makes your selfie posting okay, and mine too much? Yes, I really am thinking about selfies this deeply.

A photo posted by Ian Oriol (@ianoriol) on

I'll admit that I do take a lot of selfies, but for me, a selfie isn't that big of a deal. It's just photography. I like photography even though I'm not actually that good at it. It's a fun hobby and a way to express myself. Some of this photography obsession includes self-portraiture, which honestly isn't that much more than a really high quality selfie. Seriously, all of the cool kids are doing it: Van Gogh, Kahlo, Oriol (just kidding, I haven't landed myself in MoMA yet). You say self-absorbed, I say, "Hey, the lighting is good here let's see what it does to my eyes..." Honestly, what's the difference?

I guess now would be the time to tell you I'm on the up-hill recovery from years of bullying. People would tear me apart over my height or my weight or my hair or whatnot. This went on for pretty much the entire time I've been in school, so you can go ahead and throw my self-esteem and body positivity out the window. The point is, I've finally gotten to the point where I can look in a mirror and smile at my reflection, instead of wishing for something to change. Now that I finally have that sense of self-esteem, I don't mind sharing myself with the world (or as big of a world as a hundred-something Instagram followers is). What I do mind is now that I have a shred of self-esteem, people still find a way to knock me down, even for something as simple as a picture of my face. I refuse to let people rain on my self-esteem parade; and for this reason I haven't stopped posting whatever I want on social media; it is my Instagram, you know.

#HairGameStrong

A photo posted by Ian Oriol (@ianoriol) on

What I've come to realize from this is that people can raise a lot of hell over a selfie. I have been a long believer of "you can't please everybody" and that applies here. But I have to wonder, why are people so gosh-darn picky over a silly photo? What makes outwardly showing that I like myself a bad thing? Especially in a time where almost everybody is pushing for a more positive and accepting world?

RuPaul (God bless him) once said "If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?" and I've let these words carry me through everything I do for myself. What he said is pretty true; I think many people simply aren't able to love someone or something else until they can learn to love themselves. Unfortunately, loving yourself isn't easy, and many people struggle with the same things I did: body image, self-esteem, bullying.

I think if we all sit down and take some selfies we can all learn something. The road to loving yourself is not straightforward. It is a lot of little steps. It is "Hey, my butt is kinda cute," "I like this shirt," "This haircut makes me feel like Tyra Banks." It ain't easy but it's so worth it. So, I challenge you to love your selfie, and to not hate on somebody elsie's.

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