Selfies and soapboxes

Colour photograph of a person with blonde hair and black-framed glasses holding a phone in a purple metal case in front of their face in a mirror

Today, a friend posted a link on Facebook to an article entitled Narcissistic, Maybe. But Is There More To The Art Of The Selfie?. It’s an interesting article and it’s short, so if you have a couple of minutes free right now you should totally go and read it. Or open it in a new tab and finish reading my blog post first…

I’m not going to make a habit of blogging replies I’ve written about links on Facebook but having written this particular reply, I realised it actually summed up my entire stance on selfies (or self-portraits, as people have been calling them probably since art and language allowed for it) so I’m getting on my soapbox and posting it here too. There is some swearing. Deal with it.

I’m all for people taking and sharing pictures of themselves, from mirror-shot selfies to artistic-as-fuck self portraits. In a world where you can be, and probably are being (CCTV in the streets, for example), filmed and photographed against your will or without your awareness, taking a photo of yourself, approving of it yourself and sharing it yourself is a massively political act demonstrating agency at a time when consent is not assumed to be necessary for your image to be captured, shared and used by others.

It’s also a push back against mainstream media projections of what is acceptable and desirable in a person’s appearance. We are all constantly bombarded with images of the ideal but as more people share pictures of themselves, however they do or don’t fit into or around that ideal, the more the message of “You must be at least this perfect to exist” is diluted because fuck it, look at this amazing variety of fascinating individuals expressing themselves, as themselves, however the hell they want.

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