Monday, March 10, 2014

In Defense of the Selfie

I posted this "selfie" on Thursday night as I was about to head out the door to Open Stage. Why? Well, I was feeling pretty happy about my freshly-hennaed hair and how I was wearing it down, and how cute my magenta glitter lipstick looked, and I wanted to share it with the world. I think it's fun when dancers post a little "On my way to the show" picture too, as it builds the excitement.

Then today, I read this article titled "The Age of the Selfie" which suggested that I should not, in fact, be inflicting pictures of my face upon my friends. How dare I be so vain as to suggest that I might be a little pretty and that maybe people would like to see me? Well obviously I have a couple of problems with the anti-selfie sentiments that float around on the internet!

My first problem is the suggestion that there's something wrong with feeling that you are pretty or cute or that your new haircut is awesome. I don't have the best self-esteem but there are still days when I look in the mirror and think to myself "Self, you're so darned cute today, look at that outfit and that makeup, you're rockin' it!" And while I don't share all of those moments with the internet, sometimes I feel so good about myself that I do want to share, and then yes, I definitely enjoy the validating comments that I get from my friends.

It's no secret that girls and women suffer from a lot of image-based insecurity. Whether it comes from what we see in the media, or how we were treated when we were kids, or rude comments in the street, or a complicated combination of all that and more, it's a hard problem to combat. But it seems like there are segments of the population who feel like we're supposed to feel bad about ourselves, and that feeling good about how we look is horrible vanity. Oh, we should care about how we look, we should primp and preen and dress to impress, but as soon as we acknowledge that we did a good job making ourselves presentable, we're being narcissistic.

My second problem is that I think a lot of people who are against selfies have a deep misunderstanding of the nature of internet friendships. Sure, I have friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that I see in person regularly, but I also have friends who I rarely if ever see face-to-face. Some of them are friends who I've only known on-line, others are people who I met in person but they've since moved away. I LIKE seeing selfies of my long-distance friends. I like knowing what they've done with their hair, what kind of clothes they're wearing these days, what they're out doing in the city they live in now. And a lot of my friends LIKE seeing selfies of me. Especially now that I bellydance, they always want to see pictures of my new costumes, what sort of makeup looks I'm experimenting with, and of course, videos of me dancing.

My third and final problem with all this anti-selfie raging is that it is the smallest, stupidest of problems to worry about. Sick of seeing a friend's selfies? Just scroll past them. No big deal. If they post them constantly, you can even adjust your newsfeed on Facebook to not show their pictures. Honestly, what is it harming anybody if people like to post lots of pictures of themselves having fun, looking pretty, being bored, soliciting opinions on their new hair color, or anything like that? They're not spreading hateful opinions or damaging misinformation or overplayed memes. They're saying "Here's what I'd look like if you were here with me right now" and there's nothing wrong with that.

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