“Selfies” are defined as “a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone” (Yes, the term even has an entire Wiki page devoted to it, evidence in itself that we should start to worry?!) but are they evidence of egotistic vanity, or self-confidence that should be celebrated?
The truth is, there really isn’t a singular answer.
What has shaped the selfie trend?
More often than not, selfies are taken purely for sake of social media rather than for self-entertainment. The digital age has shaped and fueled the selfie trend, and it has become an everyday occurrence for women to upload photos of themselves to sites such as Instagram and Facebook. Yet why do we do this? One could argue that Narcissism plays a part. This egotistic personality trait embodies the pursuit of recognition and gratification from ones looks. We like it when people say we look good. It has become common for women, particularly young women, to base their happiness and self-worth on the number of likes they get on a picture of themselves. A generous amount of likes can lead us into a false sense of self confidence, as we rely on society to reassure us that we are attractive. This can cause an unreliable state of unease, as our private view on ourselves is based on how our selfie is received by social media.
However, is this really narcissism? Most likely, taking selfies is merely a reflection of someone who has very low self-esteem and are searching for comfort in the form of positive feedback to a carefully selected self-portrait. This view then draws onto an entirely different issue all together, that of media’s presentation of women. As women, we are constantly placed under societal pressure to look a certain way and made to believe that unless we resemble the celebrities we see plastered over heat magazine, we are not supposed to see ourselves as “attractive”. So surely, this selfie craze is merely a reflection of a beauty obsessed world rather than vanity or an over developed ego?
A Glimmer of Confidence
On the other hand, it’s easy to assume that a selfie will only be uploaded if we perceive ourselves to look good. Therefore, we must have had a glimmer of self-esteem to begin with, or we wouldn’t have the guts to click “upload”. However, it’s painfully true that this confidence only really comes about as the result of numerous attempts and a shameful amount of time (more than any of us would like to admit) spent trying to find the best angle to make our features appear most attractive.
When viewed in this light, it seems that in order to be interested in selfies, you have to an element of vanity within you, or you wouldn’t be able to stomach staring at images of yourself for so long.
Is Vanity a Bad Thing?
Whilst it is very unhealthy to base our happiness around the number of people who make the little red heart appear above our photo, the desire to take photos of ourselves isn’t always a reflection of a completely narcissistic personality.
In my opinion, it’s a dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t world for women, a little vanity is something to celebrate. If a woman has the confidence to share her image with practically, the world, surely we should be able to appreciate that this small symbol of bravery and pat her on the back as a congratulatory gesture? Selfies are a brilliant way for women feel better about themselves (rather than only catching horrifying glimpses of yourself during a mean hangover) and realize that they actually have the potential to look better than THAT tagged photo made them believe.
A Feeling of Triumph
Selfies, in some senses, are a triumphant cry. “As I look quite decent today, I am going to take a picture and share it with social media so that everyone can see how decent I look!” Women face enough adversity in their lives, surely they should be granted that small feeling of glee that comes with an Instagram notification or Facebook comment? This being said, not getting 11 likes doesn’t mean you have the facial structure equivalent to a slug.
There is a line between self-confidence and an unhealthy obsession with self-gratification, and it is one that needs a microscopic lens in order to be seen. When does taking selfies stop at a fun hobby to a social media driven addiction? In my opinion, the line is crossed when you’re late for an important date because you just couldn’t find the right lighting.