Selfie. Informal. A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.
I take a lot of selfies.
Interestingly enough, not because I think I look amazing, but for the opposite reason. I never really felt I looked good enough.
I started off hesitantly, but soon discovered that with the right lighting, knowing how to pose, and choosing good filters, one could work a little magic.
I started off taking full-body shots because I had all these pretty clothes lying around that I never wore anymore, and I wanted to show them off. My kids were very young at the time, and I didn’t really go out. Not for a long while. I took them out all the time, on playdates, to the beach, to the park…but I never went out for me.
No parties, no dinners, not even a coffee date without the kids.
So, I rarely had any reason to really dress up.
And I’ve always loved dressing up…so, along came the selfies.
A portrait of the artist, by herself.
It became almost addictive…taking them. Styling my hair and doing my makeup to go with each outfit, I discovered how I could, with a bit of creativity, make myself look like more than I thought I was.
More like who I wanted to be.
Yet they, the selfies, certainly aren’t all 100 percent shiny, happy, or perfect—there is a haunting sadness hidden behind some of my past selfies. A desperate loneliness.
I tried so hard to be seen.
Not waving but drowning.
I ramped up the selfie taking during the first lockdown, whilst suffering with bad anxiety. Sometimes, I couldn’t catch my breath, and having something to focus on helped.
With hindsight, I wonder if I was also (subconsciously) trying to give myself a bit of self-love. A little dose of kindness.
As it kind of did that for me, you know? Sometimes, I would start to believe in myself a little bit more.
Every selfie is a little project.
They were not, and are not, just pictures. They are expressions.
Sometimes born of sadness.
Sometimes born of happiness.
Either way, they always end up out in the open, eventually making their way into the light, and bringing me with them.
It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it?
There can be so much loneliness within selfie taking. The picture you take of yourself, by yourself.
Most of my photos captured during and after that first lockdown were taken alone in my room or alone on my walks.
I was so lonely.
And yet, taking our own picture comes with a stigma that doesn’t come with a picture taken by another.
Often people think that selfies are rooted in vanity. And sometimes they are—but perhaps not so much in the adoration of oneself, as in the process of learning to adore oneself.
And why not?
I like to express myself with them—the artist in me insists on it.
But this is not (only) about me.
Look at the selfies you see on your timeline and in your stories. And look behind them.
Look at the people behind them.
Do you really see them?
There is a girl, trying to get over a broken heart.
There is a boy who got bullied at school, now building himself up at the gym.
That woman showing off her amazing body, she used to be obese.
There is a man who simply has no one to talk to.
And there is a woman who has struggled with her own self-worth for too long.
There is nothing wrong with loving ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with being kind to ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with trying to make ourselves feel good.
We take pictures of things we like, of things we love, and of things we want to remember.
It is empowering, when you post a good selfie.
You are telling yourself:
I am confident.
I am important.
I am beautiful.
Listen to the kind words you say to yourself.
After all, in the words of Marisa Peer:
“The most important words you will ever hear in your entire life, are the words you say to yourself.”