Inspired by a women's studies course I'm taking in college, I decided to start a project to take back the power of the selfie. During one of our classes we discussed the stigmas surrounding selfies, as well as their potential for change. Whatever your reason for taking a selfie -- whether you look awesome and want to document it, you want to improve your self-esteem via sharing your selfies, or you simply want to remember how you feel in a moment -- you should be able to do so without the fear of shame or stigmatization. You should be able to do so and to feel proud of the result. Taking a selfie does not mean you're narcissistic or conceited. It simply means you're a person who wanted to do something in that moment, and that you did it. #ForYourSelfie is a project dedicated to reestablishing the selfie as a tool for change, and we want you to help us.
By reclaiming the selfie, we can achieve a few different goals. The first? Redefine beauty. The way that popular media currently characterizes beauty is unacceptable. In order to be beautiful, you must be (often unnaturally) skinny, have a face and body free of blemishes or marks, possess an ever-present, never-faltering smile (comprised of pouty lips and perfectly bleached teeth, of course), and obtain a level of flawlessness unachievable to anyone without major digital alteration. The amount of photoshop, lighting, makeup, and camera tricks that go into any given magazine shoot with your favorite celebrity are vast. No person walks into a room looking the way that the models on the covers of popular tabloids do. It is high time that we throw out this impossible definition of beauty and celebrate the perfectly wonderful beauty that exists within each person, no matter their shape, size, age, orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, WHATEVER. By snapping a selfie, you are taking a step to affirm your own beauty and to tell the world, "Hey, world, I am gorgeous and I want you to know it!"
The second goal achieved by celebrating the selfie is a sense of diversity and representation in social media. Our world is becoming more and more dependent on social media for communication, interaction, news, culture, and contact. Think about it. In your group of friends, how many people don't engage via at least one form of social media? Probably none. By embracing this growing media presence, we can change the way people are represented in the traditional media (i.e. television, movies, magazines, tabloids, etc.). As we've established, everyone possesses an individual beauty that should be shared, regardless of who they are. Yet the majority of these people never get adequately represented in the mainstream media, most commonly because of the color of their skin, who they choose to love, a disability they might have, or the deities in which they choose to believe (among many other possible reasons). With social media eclipsing mainstream media in importance, why not take advantage of the freedom of expression and give representation to these groups? There is no longer an excuse for underrepresentation in any form of media, and I think that using social media to increase representation will, eventually, translate to the mainstream.
Finally, an inadvertent bonus to taking selfies is the ability to instantly share what you're doing, who you're doing it with, where you're doing it, and how it makes you feel in one click of the shutter. Taking a selfie is the ultimate status update because it gives your friends and family a visual representation of you in any given moment. James Franco is a proponent of selfies for this reason, as he says in his New York Times article, The Meanings of the Selfie.
I think I've successfully proven that I am pro-selfie, and I hope I've given you some reasons to think about why you should be, too. Selfies don't have the be the villains that we make them. People have charged me with being vapid, narcissistic and self-absorbed for posting selfies. I beg to differ. I feel that I, like everyone else, am a beautiful person whose beauty and uniqueness deserve to be shared with those who I feel it appropriate, most often my friends and family. Selfies can be so advantageous if we would just let them.
A common anti-selfie argument is, "Well, why do people need to take so many selfies?" To this I say, simply, because they want to. I fully encourage the taking of as many selfies as you want to take, and sharing them with whomever you decide. We're trying to make changes here, people! But to those who might not understand the point of this project just yet, and who don't want to see so many selfies on their newsfeeds, the answer is simple. Unfriend, unfollow, unlook. Be proactive. Don't just complain about it and spread negativity. Maybe taking selfies isn't for you, but you certainly don't have to tear down another for taking them. Though, I would encourage you to broaden your definition of selfies. I think that a lot of people think of selfies as one specific thing. That is, the perpetual photo of someone giving the pouty face to their mirror. And nothing is wrong with those selfies. Nothing. But, selfies are also a group of people in front of a beautiful sight, documenting their amazement. Selfies are two old friends, preserving their reunion in photo form. Selfies are not just one thing.
So, if you agree with anything I've said in this post, head over to our site and browse a little, and even submit your own selfie. Adding to our growing collection is the simplest way to help our cause. It would mean a tremendous amount to us to know that we have your support as we go forth and try to make the world a better place, one selfie at a time.