Why you should only smile if you want to, take as many selfies as you like and ignore the rest of the internet when it tells you otherwise.
The internet is great. Cat memes, GIFs that make you snort through your nose with laughter at their accuracy, the world at your fingertips. But it can be a mean and judgmental place. Especially for women. The pictures we take are often picked apart and scrutinised in a way never before seen. Whether its to do with our bodies or our opinions, someone, somewhere, will have something to say about it. Whether the comments sexualise us, tear our opinion – and right to have one – to shreds, or judge us, there is no hiding away from it.
Today i’m here to talk about the most recent development : Selfie Shaming.
We all know what selfies are. It’s even a legit word in the Oxford English Dictionary now. Ever since those clever smartphone people invented the front facing camera there’s been no stopping us, and why should there be? There’s a reason we all do it. Selfies are fun as hell!
Many have put this recent phenomenon down to a simple dislike of ‘millennial narcissism’ – young teens and twenty-somethings constantly on their phone, photographing themselves instead of paying attention to the world around them. To that I say – are you mental?! Young people today are more connected and in the know than ever before, we use the technology at our fingertips to widen our opportunities, to connect with people that a few short decades ago we would never have been able to connect with, AND to create real social change using platforms the old fogeys just don’t understand.
But this isn’t even about self absorbed millennials. Its about casual, normalised sexism. I haven’t done the maths, but I wager that if you take a look around at the people being selfie shamed, the vast majority of them will be young girls and women. Why? because to take a selfie is (in today’s modern techno world) to say that you feel good about yourself. Good enough to capture that moment and share it with the internet. And the world we live in encourages that kind of self confidence…in men. But when that kind of self confidence comes from a woman, fret not – society will be on hand to take you down a peg or three…or four.
So what can you do about this? Feel guilty and nervous each time you take a selfie, even though you know its hot as fook? Monitor what you wear in photos so as not to draw unwanted attention and verbal abuse from the online world? Stop taking photos? Get rid of your social media presence altogether? Lets face it, none of them sound particularly fun or realistic.
And in a world where you find yourself thinking thoughts like:
“will they call me a slut if I wear this”
“I’m loving what I’m wearing today but can I be bothered to deal with the sexist, misogynistic and aggressive commentary (normalised and ignored by a patriarchal system) that will be thrown in my direction as soon as I step foot outside?”
(Was that last one just me? Anyone else?),
none of the above options seem in any way fair. We have just as much right to own an Instagram or Facebook account as anyone else. And we have just as much right to feel free to express ourselves – be that using our minds or bodies – in anyway we damn well choose.
So the solution i’m putting forward is this:
Take all the selfies. Take as many or as little as you want. Be moody, be silly, be arty, strike a pose, use that new snapchat filter everyone is mad about. Wear as many or as few items of clothing as you want. Your body, your mind and the way you express them are yours and yours alone, and no one should have the power to bully and shame you into doing and being anything other than what YOU want.
So lets bombard them with our confidence. If they tell you to smile – stick your finger up and use that frown snapchat filter (See above); If they tell you to stop being so vain – snap another photo of yourself looking dayum fiiinee; and if they tell you to put on more clothes or show off your curves more, tell them that your body is none of their god damn business!
To practice what I preach here’s a selection of my most awesome/lame – whichever way you choose to look at it – selfies (featuring snapchat filters and my morning cuppa).
Lots of love,