The Arm, Extended

I ONCE THOUGHT people who posted selfies online were either narcissists or people so insecure they needed the acceptance of others. I’m not proud of myself for thinking that.

Selfies, though existing before my time, became commonplace with the rise of social media, which I grew up with.

I downloaded Instagram with the assistance of school friends during a long ride home from a leadership conference. I uploaded my first picture (I believe it was of a farm kitten) and soon found myself going through people’s pictures, constantly afraid that the bumps on the road would cause my thumb to slip and I would accidentally like someone’s photo from months ago. It didn’t happen then, but it has happened since.

As days went by and I saw new posts, I would shake my head at pictures of people taken by themselves. I thought selfies were either a sign of passive narcissism or insecurity. Oddly, I had no problem when people posted pictures of themselves taken by another person. I didn’t think about why the distinction existed for a long time. Until I realized my own hypocrisy, I thought selfies were people seeking to gain approval from others, which I was against because I thought people should be confident enough in themselves.

My dislike of selfies was misogynistic. The same ideas I associated with selfies, are the same words misogynists use to describe women: vain, selfish, self-absorbed, superficial, and desperate.

Selfies don’t have to be cries for attention. The arm extended is a powerful statement saying, “This is me. I take up space. I exist.” Taking a photo of yourself is recognition of yourself.

I now love selfies – I love seeing them on my feed and I love posting them.

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The selfie is what the name implies, it’s all about the self – which is a beautiful thing. Self-love only becomes problematic narcissism when the ability to love other people is taken away. Selfies are not a statement that you are better than others, they are simply a statement that says, “Hey, this is me.”

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A person doesn’t have to post selfies to show that they feel good about themselves, it’s a personal choice to have an online presence. Feminism promotes that people are allowed to make whatever choice feels best for them.

Choosing to post a selfie is not an invitation to touch, or to sexual harassment, but it is consent to be viewed – a power women are often denied.

I have a better understanding of feminism now, and with that comes the love of self that people have when posting a picture. I can rejoice when a friend posts a selfie, showing they like how they look. They accept themselves despite the pressure put on them by a society that tells men and women they should always strive to look their best but to never actually like themselves. Going against this thinking can be as simple as posting a picture of yourself, telling the world, if you want to, that you feel damn good today.

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