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Age of the selfie: Taking, sharing our photos shows empowerment, pride

  • Healdsburg High School students Adrienne Sarasy and Robert Wilcox value the selfie differently. (The Hound’s Bark)

With the proliferation of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, there has been a whirlwind of photos cataloging people’s lives, meals and, most importantly, appearances.

Selfies, most often those of women and girls, can be found within any popular social media site. The idea behind the selfie is to capture a photo in which you feel extraordinary, beautiful and confident, and share it with the world. In fact, it is an act of pride and even empowerment for those who post these selfies.

However, this empowerment is viewed by some selfie-critics as a narcissistic act of self-indulgence. Indeed, by taking a photo of yourself and posting it into the world of social media, you may give off the impression that you are attention-seeking and self-absorbed, but who doesn’t enjoy the compliments and feeling of receiving a significant amount of likes on a photo?

As individuals, we are inherently attention-seeking, whether we like to think so or not. We seek attention in all aspects of the ways in which we present ourselves to society. More often than not, this venture toward attention is interpreted as a form of self-expression and uniqueness, but it still is rooted within the same soils of self-indulgence. The selfie allows those who take selfies to proclaim their confidence and love for themselves via the Internet, while redefining the ways in which society defines beauty as a whole.

A recent Dove campaign harnessed the power of the selfie to address the growing issues involving low self-esteem in teens and young women.

In this campaign, they interviewed teenaged girls and their mothers, and asked them to define their own, personal beauty. The majority of the girls and their mothers addressed their unique attributes as their flaws, feeling that these flaws failed to make them beautiful.

Big eyebrows, red cheeks, frizzy hair, and freckles were just some of the attributes which these girls wanted to alter about themselves. The girls picked these features because they did not fit the criteria of “normal beauty,” which society and the fashion industry have established as the anorexic, photoshopped faces of models. They felt they themselves were not beautiful. Yet through the employment of the selfie, Dove showed the girls and their mothers where true beauty lies — not in the photoshopped figures of models, but in the faces of real women.

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