The poetic, playful and prophetic musings of quintessential voices trying to keep up with life

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I've got a confession to make…

I take selfies.

That definitely wasn't someone else who took that picture of my face. That was me. With my iPhone, with that little "reverse camera" feature so I could see what I looked like when I snapped the pic. I probably took at least three pictures before I finally took one I liked. If I'm gonna post my face all over the Internet, I wanna look good.

Women are expected to look beautiful all the time. We're expected to look flawless whether we're at home or work. Sometimes (despite all those Pinterest fitspirations about, "If you look good after your workout, you didn't work hard enough) even after a workout, in that sweaty, sexy, exhausted, maybe even post-coital way. We're supposed to wear makeup, but only enough to enhance our "best" features. We're supposed to have perfect skin, and if we don't, we're supposed to cake on some concealer until it's not as noticeable. It takes us twenty minutes to make our hair perfectly dishevelled so we look gorgeous, but in that, thrown-together-I-really-didn't-try-I-swear kind of way. We work really hard to look effortless.
That, in itself, says a lot about unattainable beauty standards. And on top of everyday people, celebrities, and (most of all) companies telling us that we we're not pretty skinny curvy insert physical qualifier here enough, why are we surprised that women have lower self-esteem about their appearance?

According to Psychology Today, women are more concerned about their appearance because people judge us on our appearance, much more than people judge men on appearance. Dove says that only 4% of women worldwide would describe themselves as beautiful. This may have to do with sexual selection, biology, or competition, but it's a real life problem that women experience on a daily basis. We're sold products to cover up or eliminate these "flaws." If we didn't feel so shitty about how we looked, many a company would go out of business.

As we try so hard to look so perfect (quite an uphill battle), heaven forbid women express any sort of pride or confidence about their appearance.

"Oh, you look so beautiful today!" "Psh, no, I look like a troll! You look beautiful!"
"Oooh, I love those pants!" "Awww, really? I got them on sale!" (Notice, no acknolowedgment that your body is attached to those gorgeous pants)
"You look really pretty today!" "Are you kidding me? I just rolled out of bed!"

When should I stop quoting "Mean Girls?" THE LIMIT DOES NOT EXIST.

Women are supposed to be insecure. We're supposed to blow off compliments. If you're open about how beautiful you feel, even if you totally do, you're full of yourself. A bitch. Cocky. Self-involved. Fake. Vain. Maybe even slutty.

Selfies are a touchy subject. People see them as promoting vanity, an impression of empty-headedness, attention-whoring, or self-obsession. And let's be honest: we all know that one person who has a Facebook album exclusively full of pictures of her face at slightly different angles. It does seem a little extreme.

Here's my question: Is it really offensive that a woman might actually feel good about herself and her body?

I'm not advocating we all start making selfie albums on Facebook or anything, but is it possible that maybe that girl posting a picture of her face just... feels pretty? Is it more offensive than a group of friends taking six different pictures of themselves until they take the most flattering one?

Is it so offensive that someone might actually feel good about themselves and feel okay sharing that online? We share new jobs, good grades, relationships, and pretty much everything else online, but sharing a flattering picture - differing from all those other tagged pictures only because you took it yourself - crosses the line?

In a world where 4% of women worldwide would call themselves beautiful, we should be celebrating women who have the confidence to post a picture and say to the Internet, "Hey, I feel beautiful today. Deal with it." We should be encouraging other women to feel beautiful just the way they are (filter or not). We should be building each other up, not tearing each other down. We should encourage ourselves to celebrate our own beauty, whether that comes in the form of a good grade, singing really loud in the car (with the windows down - free those dulcet tones!), or having a good hair day. And hell, take a picture of it if you want to. I bet it looks great.

At least on my Instagram feed, selfies appear all the time with a caption like, "Hey, just feeling pretty today! #nomakeup" The responses to those pictures in particular are really beautiful - 99% of the time, other women are building each other up. They say things like, "Wow, BABE ALERT," "You're always so beautiful," or "Screw makeup, you're so foxy!" Every time I see one, it warms my heart. 

I have an app called "BeauCoo" where women (of all shapes and sizes) can post their outfit pictures. It's meant to be a supportive community where you can see how specific clothing items might fit you, but the comments are always my favorite part. It doesn't matter what size, shape, face type, or skin color - the comments are always positive and uplifting.

When I see examples like that, I just can't throw all selfies in the "self-obsession & vanity" pile. I see a way for women to embrace themselves. I see a way to show the world that we refuse to make self-hate the norm. I see a way to embrace beauty however we'd like to. I see a way to raise that 4%.

How do you feel about selfies? Do you think they have redeeming quality?


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