Selfies are empowering, not vain

Kylie Clifton, Staff Writer

If you open any of your social media platforms, you probably won’t have to look very far to find a selfie. Selfies, propelled by the invention of the cell phone front camera, have revolutionized the evolution of photography. As little as 10 years ago, selfies weren’t even a mainstream thing: you would have had to hold your disposable or digital camera at an awkward angle and hope you got the right shot. The word “selfie” wasn’t even included in Oxford’s dictionary until 2013. The overwhelming prevalence of selfies has brought with it an important question: are selfies narcissistic or empowering?

I believe selfies can be empowering. I think it is a beautiful thing to be able to take your own photo that you enjoy and feel best in. Many members of older generations argue that we are much more self consumed than we used to be, but this simply isn’t true. I’d like to think we have become more outspoken in our lives and society, and are perhaps more self aware. With that self- awareness comes self-love, and that’s what selfies represent.

Recognizing the prevalence of selfies in our culture, Apple just recently began a thriving campaign celebrating the wonders of their newest iPhone’s asset: it’s selfie camera. The commercials and billboards feature photography that has been taken on the newest iPhone, demonstrating the incredible capabilities of its redesigned front camera. When you see the beautiful landscape shot you are nothing but impressed, but when you see a beautifully high-resolution selfie that can pick up the individual pigments in a person’s iris, you are moved in a different, more human way.

There is something very personal about a selfie, as for the most part when taking a selfie you seek your best angle or lighting. The very ideal of expressing yourself in the way of your choosing and controlling how you are portrayed is something not just appealing, but empowering. We have no control over the way others see us, but selfies allow us to be immortalized as we want to be seen. Despite this, sometimes doubt creeps in. We start to wonder: “Does posting a selfie make me look self-centered? Should I be posting a photo of my dog, a beautiful landscape, or my friends instead?”  

My answer is no. Your dogs, the scenery around you, your friends…all of these things are about you, but your selfie IS you. Not everybody will like it.  Not everybody has to. Sadly, people today still don’t completely celebrate our differences, and in place of empowering other people, we as a society tend to judge other people. The next time someone posts a selfie, maybe even  captioning it “Feeling cute today,” or something very true and personal, take a minute to think about how vulnerable that makes them and look for the good instead of getting a criticism ready.

I believe that we can reach a point where we can celebrate every selfie we see, filter or no filter, and whether for you that starts with clicking “like” on social media or clicking to snap your own selfie, we can all start somewhere.