Phone camera lights flash; duck lips and two-finger peace signs protrude; “SELFIE!” some girl squeals. “Pic” posted; how many likes did it get?
Selfies are the current subject of Dove’s 2014 Real Beauty campaign, featured in a short documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year.
The film focuses on teen girls and their mothers, who through a workshop at school learn that selfies can empower women and incorporate what they see as flaws into a beautiful snapshot.
The photos were put on display in a gallery-type setting, and comments were left with sticky notes on the wall in a real-world Facebook fashion. One teen in the documentary said, “In the workshop I was surprised when I heard the girls talk about their insecurities.
When they said they were insecure about things, those were the things that made them different.
But the things that made them different made them unique and that made them beautiful.”
I have taken selfies sparingly since my middle school Myspace era about 10 years ago — incidentally when the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty first launched. I first heard the term “selfie culture” early this year, when a friend tweeted James Franco’s essay “The Meaning of the Selfie” in The New York Times.
Franco discusses the difference between celebrity selfies and non-celebrity selfies and charges that attention is power.
“Of course, the self-portrait is an easy target for charges of self-involvement, but, in a visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing,” Franco writes.
He continues to say he’s “turned off” when he visits an Instagram with no selfies.
I feel like this person, the selfie-less account holder, turns me on. It is mysterious. I “unfollow” the social media user who posts daily selfies — each shot generally looks interchangeable. By all means, let me see a nice head shot, a cute family photo, a picture of you taken by a friend.
I even showcase my occasional selfie on Instagram and/or Twitter.
But what grinds my Instagram is the shameless narcissism many social media users acquire.
We use social media to find power and confidence in ourselves, but the result when “favorites/likes” on a photo, status or tweet do not fulfill that desire is catastrophic to our self-image.
A friend of mine puts so much emphasis on her Instagram selfies that she will delete a picture if it does not reach a substantial, and in my opinion, unrealistic amount of favorites in one hour.
That photo, to her, is not worthy of display, accurate depiction of her or not.
The other issue I have with selfies is accuracy. We post photos that show us in a flattering light. We use Photoshop to alter our skin tone, facial structure, body shape.
What is “liked/favorited” is not you or me. It is how we want to be perceived.
That abuse, the manipulation of photos, and consequently the minds of social media followers/“friends,” is the problem.
The fact that humans need the approval of others over a screen is so sad.
The truth about selfie culture is that no amount of virtual esteem can compensate for self-worth.
Only by loving ourselves for our flaws, allowing the world to see hideous personal photos, and knowing that no matter the “favorite/like” count, we are who we are, can we, the millennials, find balance between the self-centered reputation thrust upon us and our self-conscious truth.
Get the picture?
Follow @cassclarhaut on twitter for news, updates, and extremely rare hideous selfies.