Last week, a viral campaign under the hashtag #NoMakeUpSelfie crowded the internet.
The trend was created to raise awareness to support breast cancer research. The campaign encouraged girls to take a picture of themselves without make up on as a way to promote healthy body image and support those with breast cancer.Similar campaigns such as the Barefaced and Beautiful Campaign started as a way to use social media as a platform for conversations on positive body image and inner beauty.
While the concept of the selfie is not relatively new, there has been a lot of talk about the purpose of taking pictures of oneself and posting it online. There seems to be a divide among public perceptions of selfies. There are groups who view selfies as “narcissistic” and “approval seeking”. This view may stem out of the perception that selfies are a sign of low self esteem and that people who are constantly uploading pictures of themselves through instagram or facebook are seeking social validation.
There is definitely a negative way to approach selfies. One would be to post numerous selfies daily, editing tiny blemishes and retaking pictures numerous times until it’s perfect. This approach towards selfies can encourage obsessive behaviour that would be detrimental to self esteem. But selfies don’t have to be taken this way. As Rachel Simmons sums it in Slate magazine, “The selfie suggests something in picture form—I think I look [beautiful] [happy] [funny] [sexy]. Do you?—that a girl could never get away with saying. It puts the gaze of the camera squarely in a girl’s hands, and along with it, the power to influence the photo’s interpretation.”
When taken in this sense, selfies can be used to promote healthy body image. The world of selfies doesn’t have to be a bad thing because it allows everyone to make themselves visible. Suddenly there are so many pictures of everyday people in the world; pictures of not only models, but people of different body types, sizes, shapes, and expression. The new visibility of everyone changes perception because we are not only looking at images of perfect models in a magazine anymore, but real images of different people, thereby creating a more realistic and dynamic ideal of beauty.Selfies could be fun and a great reflection of positive body image when taken with the purpose of self expression, instead of self obsession.