Social media defines my generation. Despite the fact that it has made people across the globe better connected and more informed than ever before, some would also like to brand it the root of all evil. One of the biggest symbols of this is the humble selfie.
Selfies are by no means a new thing; we've been agonising over webcam pics since the days of Bebo and MySpace. It's Instagram - the world's fastest growing social media platform - that has made selfies into a phenomenon, even something you can build a career around. However, despite the fact that they're obviously quite popular (if you search #selfie on Instagram, you currently find 289million posts) selfies continue to be seen as a sign of vanity and vacuousness. Unsurprisingly, this criticism is often aimed at women.
The flack that selfies get represents yet another way where women just can't win. All our lives, society teaches us to value our looks above all else. We are bombarded with photos of "beautiful" women in magazines, newspapers and adverts, telling us what we should look like, despite the fact that the image presented is unattainable for the vast majority of us. Women are shamed for being too fat, too thin, too dark, too pale. Although it's far too simplistic to blame disordered eating on Internet and the media, it's not a coincidence that eating disorders are 7 to 10 times more common in women than men.
However, when a woman does think she looks good - something that we've been told all our lives is so important - and posts a harmless photo on social media, then that isn't acceptable either. The key difference here is that while women are being encouraged to be "beautiful", it's not supposed to be for ourselves; it's supposed to be for other people. We're supposed to look good, but not on our own terms or by our own standards. We're meant to be these aesthetically appealing objects that exist to be admired by - let's be honest here - men. The thing about selfies that can make people so uncomfortable is that it represents a woman taking control of her own image, thinking that she looks great and not being ashamed to say it.
The view that posting a selfie somehow makes you this vapid airhead is also completely unfounded. I post selfies every now and then when I'm feeling my look. I also have a degree from one of the best universities in the country, am bilingual, and have seen basically every John Hughes film. Plus, here you are reading my published blog, so obviously there is a lot more to me than my ability to pick a decent filter. A woman feeling good about her surface definitely does not negate her depth, whatever that might be. If you genuinely believe that women who are "attractive" by our particularly narrow standards have absolutely no potential to add anything else to the conversation, then you are part of the big misogynistic problem.
My main point is that if I think I'm looking fresh to death one day, why shouldn't I be allowed to say so? In a society that is constantly putting women down, why shouldn't we take that small confidence boost a selfie can bring? It is an unwritten rule with my female friends that we will always like each other's selfies, because we love to see each other rising above the bullshit and slaying the world like the queens we are. I will always defend my own, and anyone else's, right to share it when they are feeling flawless AF. If that makes you feel uncomfortable, then to be honest, it says a lot more about you than it does about me.
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