22 November 2013

Selfie Reflecting

So the word of the year for 2013 according to the Oxford English Dictionary is "selfie." Jezebel wrote a piece spring boarding off this called Selfies Aren't Empowering, They're a Cry for Help.
Further, self-taken digital portraits are typically posted on social media, ostensibly with the intent of getting people to respond to them — that's what social media is. In that respect, selfies aren't expressions of pride, but rather calls for affirmation. In real life, walking up to a stranger, tilting your head downward at a 45-degree angle, duckfacing, pushing your tits together, and screaming "DO YOU THINK I'M PRETTY!" would be summon the authorities. On the internet, it's just how people operate.
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Selfies aren't empowering little sources of pride, nor are they narcissistic exercises by silly, conceited bitches. They're a logical technically enabled response to being brought up to think that what really matters is if other people think you're pretty. 
Selfie from 2004, summer before meeting Shawn
I tweeted about the article -- just noting it because I found myself nodding along with the author's assertions. I'm not super-fond of selfies, although I've certainly taken my share (I have a folder labeled "Self-Indulgence" in my pictures file that mostly contains pictures of my face, including ones I took with my very first digital camera at 23).

When I looked back at Twitter later yesterday evening there was a lot of chatter using #feministselfie, in which feminists railed against the Jezebel article, mainly in a "don't tell me what to do" kind of way as well as "we like our faces" and "selfies give us a way to see real people and feel good about ourselves," all of which are totally valid. I found myself feeling kind of crumbly about it as I went to sleep. (Note to self: stop checking ANY social media before bed!)

The author responded to tweets and said she didn't get any emails asking to discuss the article (she also said she didn't write the headline, which is more inflammatory than the article itself). I went to sleep wanting to email her my overall agreement with her argument while still understanding people's upset. (I didn't do it because I would have fretted even more.)

As for me, now I am rarely in the picture because my camera is always pointing the other way! And I can shift the idea slightly about how I share Jane's picture online and really how much of it is, like a selfie can often be, just a request for admiration/affirmation. Not that there's anything wrong with admiration and affirmation online or otherwise. But where does that leave me in my quest to raise a smart, strong daughter whose value to the world is not based on her physical appearance?

Also, even though I don't take a lot of pictures of myself, rarely change my Facebook profile photo and my Twitter avatar is of me at my fattest and in glasses, isn't this BLOG my own "selfie" looking for admiration and affirmation? Write on...

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