This blog was a request by one of my readers. Well, almost. I know you were looking for me to condemn this selfie culture as vapid, vain and the worst that 2014 has to offer. Instead, I am here to vouch my support.
Friends, selfies are a good thing.
My younger sister is 16 years old and a Snapchat addict. She is constantly taking photos of herself, and I wish I had her confidence. Every picture I see of myself, I can highlight my every flaw: my size, my mess of hair, my toothy smile. Most pictures won’t make it past my critical eye, and are promptly deleted. It is a dance I’m sure most are familiar with; a masochistic tango with self-worth that leaves you beaten, bloody and somehow always convinces you to come back for more.
Natalie does not have that problem, and quite rightly. She is beautiful in every way. Because of selfies, she is starting to believe that. Two years ago, she didn’t think she was anything special. She had braces, had to wear an ugly uniform, wore make-up just to impress people… now she smiles more, works her uniform and wears make-up for herself. This is what we need young people to feel.
Selfie culture is not a purely female phenomenon, but it is one that I see usually attributed to teenage girls. My brother is 19, and he takes plenty of photos of himself. He, too, has buckets of self-worth that I am incredibly envious of. He is constantly vain for hilarity’s sake, acting like he is the greatest thing to grace the earth.
So, why do I think this is a good thing?
Look at the alternative.
Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviours, including skipping meals, vomiting, and taking laxatives. Anorexia is the third most common chronic illnesses that affect teens. Only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment, and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
Eating orders can easily develop from a lack of self-esteem. This is not the only worry. People turn to self-harm, and even consider suicide. These thoughts and problems can lead to depression. These problems do not disappear once you hit 20. They keep growing. Having low self-esteem is deadly, and it can lead to serious health problems and even death.
On another point, Selfie was the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2013. One needs to look no further than the comment section of any reporting paper (say, The Guardian) to know how well that has gone down. People are so afraid of this culture and why? What is so wrong with wanting to believe that you are beautiful.
I was bullied because of my size a lot from middle school to high school. I am almost 21, I still worry about what a stranger thinks if I wear a top that’s too form-fitting. I worry if my rolls of fat can be seen, if my hips look even bigger, or if I look like a pig stuffed in to a dress if I dare to dress up. When I was Natalie’s age, my self-confidence was non-existent. There is no puzzle more complex that trying to navigate the self-esteem of people who do not find any value in themselves. It didn’t matter how many times I was told I was pretty or had a talent highlighted that made up for my appearance. It still doesn’t to be honest. In my mind, I just wasn’t worth the picture. If my little sister can take constant pictures of herself to make sure she never has to experience this feeling, then I am all for it. Natalie, keep taking pictures. Keep posting them. Let everyone know that you are proud of how you look. So, I am sorry, dear reader. I know it is not what you wanted. But I am afraid my own feelings on this particular topic don’t match up with yours.
And as a side note, if you think someone close to you has an eating disorder, speak to them. Speak to a teacher. Get them to speak to a doctor. There is a stigma attached to eating disorders, when it is an illness that needs to be addressed.
So from the Gallon Family…
#Selfie is not a social disease. It is a solution to many people, and I for one am not in a rush to take that away from them. Everyone should believe in themselves. This is just one of the ways technology has facilitated a new way to may people enjoy being them.
And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another blog post. Let me ask you this:
Do you take selfies? Do you think your confidence has flourished because of it? Or do you think selfies really are all that bad.
Let me know your thoughts.