A month ago, my dad and I were vacationing in Toronto, Canada. After a thrilling minute-long elevator ride, we were finally at our next destination: the “lookout” level of the CN Tower, 1,136 feet above the ground.
The views were spectacular.
There were so many things to look at—the Art Gallery, the lake, the hotel where we were staying. I pulled out my camera and snapped picture after picture of the view. After I had almost completely exhausted my memory card, I started looking around inside.
Normal tourist activities were going on. Families were crowded around the windows. Some people were buying overpriced snacks. And, of course, countless numbers of people were taking selfies. It was a bit overwhelming to see so many people simultaneously engage in this activity. Backs leaned against glass, arms raised to get the perfect angle.
I am not a selfie-hater, but in that moment I was frustrated by what I was seeing. I thought that these people should be enjoying themselves in what I thought was the appropriate way. For a moment my thoughts flew out of my control. These people (most of them women) were self-absorbed and self-obsessed.
After we were done upstairs, we took the elevator down and started browsing through the gift shop. During that time my frustration had become focused on myself.
Who was I to judge these people? I didn’t know anything about them.
And I had to admit I was being hypocritical, of course. I’ve taken plenty of selfies and somehow have managed to avoid becoming a self-obsessed monster. But the question remained: Why was I so mad at these women? Why was I judging them so harshly?
I realized that I was buying into a very pervasive attitude. Society has infected me with its fanatical scorn. The selfie is subject to rampant derision and mockery. Women (especially teenage girls) are blasted for self-absorption and lack of perspective when they take a selfie. Duck faces and peace signs have become unspeakable offenses.
Think about it. What kinds of words are used to describe the young women who have the audacity to cultivate and enjoy their own image? They’re desperate, conceited, and proud. They’re narcissistic attention whores, and they are ruining society.
All this is heaped on us for such a small crime – the crime of declaring and celebrating our own existence by striking a quick pose in front of the camera lens. And why?
Because the more pictures we take of ourselves, the more dangerous we are. The more we look at our own image and say Damn, I look good, the closer we get to loving ourselves and forgetting what society has taught us about beauty.
Every day, the media sends out more and more messages with the same idea: if you are a woman, you aren’t good enough.
You need to lose weight.
You need to get rid of your wrinkles.
Cellulite is gross.
You need to wear more makeup.
If you don’t get your skin cleared up, no one will ever love you.
And so on.
And we buy into it! I know I do. I bought into it so much, I started judging other women for daring to push the norms society has put in place for us.
Well, no more.
Between my cell phone and my computer, I probably have over a hundred selfies. Most of them stay private, though I have a handful smattered across Instagram and Facebook. I keep them private not because I’m ashamed of how I look. I keep them private because they’re for me and me alone. They make me feel good about myself. If I’m having a good hair day or my makeup looks great, you bet I’m going to record it. Stuck inside my pocket or purse is my portfolio: the proof I can give myself that I am beautiful.
So keep taking selfies, ladies! And don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.
by Lauren Bunch