The Harbinger Online

Swindells: Why I Love Selfies

When they named “selfie” their word of 2013, Oxford Dictionaries defined it as “(n.) a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”  Though accurate, this definition fails to capture last year’s whirlwind sensation that was ‘the selfie’. Last year tens of thousands of people shamelessly posed with friends, family and pets for the benefit of their ever-growing social media audience.

I expect you’d be hard-pressed to find a single person at East who hasn’t gone for a sneaky front-cam snapchat while pretending to check their texts, or ‘ironically’ pouted for a blatant insta-shot in a public area. Whether you’re sending it to one person or 1000, pouting prettily or showing off your quadruple chins, you can’t deny the satisfaction of seeing your own face mirrored back at you on a little screen.

Despite the fact that pretty much everyone is doing it, a huge number of teenagers seem to clamor to hate on selfies. They’re backed, of course, by the never-ending supply of grown-ups who insist that selfies and social media are just more examples of our generation’s narcissism and constant need for the approval of others.

Honestly, I reckon people could all stand to relax a bit. The world has so many terrible things going on: war, starvation, melting ice caps – so how about you chill out about people taking photos of themselves? And, as a matter of fact, I really like selfies.

I know that I, personally, would always rather see a picture of you than some arbitrary picture of a sunset. I don’t care if it has a nice Amaro filter: I could still get something just as nice by typing ‘sunset’ into Google Images.

I expect many of you say “No, it’s fine if they post silly ones with their friends, it’s just so awkward and annoying when girls post loads of serious ones,” but you don’t understand.

Those selfies – the ones the 14 year-old girls take right before they go out, with their makeup fully done and their hair perfectly curled, lips pouted and camera expertly positioned for optimum lighting and angle, those are my favourite ones!

Because every year millions of dollars are spent with the sole purpose of making those girls feel terrible about themselves. Advertising companies look at 8th and 9th graders with their acne and braces think “Y’know what would be a real money-spinner? If we told those girls that they’re fat. If we told them that they’re not good enough and no one will like them unless they buy our product. Isn’t that a good idea?”

Isn’t being a teenager isn’t bad enough without constantly being bombarded with pictures that tell us how little we’re worth?

And it works. Of course it does. That much is obvious from the steadily climbing rates of plastic surgery and eating disorders. Statistics from the The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders showed that more than 50 percent of teenage girls use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, vomiting and taking laxatives. You don’t have to be a genius to see there is something grossly wrong about that statistic.

Have big breasts, but a thigh gap. Have a big ass, but a flat stomach. We live in a world full of ridiculous expectations, a world where a size eight is fat and plastic surgery is standard practice. Magazines publish articles picking on every celebrity’s tiniest flaws, so that of course we realize how our lips are too thin and our nose is too large and our eyes are too close together.

So if someone, despite all of this, can still think “I look pretty sweet today, and I want people to know it,” well I think that’s bloody beautiful.

So next time you see one of these selfies, don’t let yourself be irked by incessant hashtags or over-exuberant emojis. Instead, be happy for this small victory, that one more teenager has beaten the odds, and feels good about themselves today.

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Katharine Swindells

Senior Katharine Swindells is head online copy-editor of the Harbinger Online. She likes British politics, selfies, feminism, cute shoes and books. Read Full »

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