I am finished with taking, retaking, editing, filtering, deleting, and posting selfies.
Just a few years ago, I would have been appalled at the idea of taking a picture of myself, with my own camera/phone, and posting it to my own social media account.
I mean, really, how conceited does that sound?
Conceited, immodest, vain, prideful, distracted- all words I would use to describe our selfie culture.
In criticizing the selfie, I am really criticizing myself, because inasmuch as I was tempted, I partook. I always knew that the selfie was a show of vanity, but I dismissed it because, and oh dear Jesus forgive me for saying this, “everybody else was doing it”. Older relatives whom I respected, pretty women, less-pretty women, mission friends, LDS friends, non-LDS friends, moms, teachers, business women…everyone.
So I jumped on the bandwagon- I curled my hair, glued fake eyelashes to my face, stuck my neck out, put my chin down, tilted my head, pouted just enough to make my lips look bigger and my cheeks look thinner and took the picture. And then took another, and another, until I captured one I saw fit to share. I then spent a few minutes trying to find the perfect filter- something that would make my hair look shiny, my skin look clear, and my lips look red. Finally, I would post it to Instagram, and Facebook via Instagram, with some comment to try to justify the need to post yet another picture of myself and attach ridiculous hashtags. Then I would wait for the validation.
I am usually a pretty low maintenance girl- make-up is not a part of my daily routine and my hair and jewelry are usually pretty simple. Except for Sundays, that is. Sunday is my “go all out day”- I use velcro rollers to make my hair big and spanx to make my waist small. I like getting gussied up sometimes…and plus, this makes Sunday morning, right before I leave for church, the perfect time for a selfie.
What I am about to admit is so very embarrassing.
I have spent many sacrament meetings with my nose in my phone waiting for notifications of people liking the picture of my face. I have partaken of the sacrament with my hands while, with my heart, I devoutly worshiped myself.
When I take selfies, there ends up being a whole lot of unused ones (my forehead looks too big, my eyes look to small, that curl is curling the wrong way) on my camera roll. Maybe I am the only one who takes multiples to try and get the right one- but, I doubt it.
I’ve had instances where I’ve been sharing my photos with a friend and we get to a host of selfies. I usually make some kind of joke, but I have always felt awkward about it. It’s one thing to take ONE picture of yourself to share, it’s an entirely different thing to take 15, that differ only by the slightest of angels and expressions.
Really girls, really.
I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 3:6, which refers to the “silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts”. I have a hard time accepting that a woman who is fully engaged in the cause of Christ even has the time or energy to think about taking her own picture to show off to the world. How silly would that be?
I took selfies because I wanted people to think I was pretty. More so, I wanted people to tell me I was pretty.
You can insert your own lecture on how we are all beautiful and should find our worth first as daughters of God right about here. All I’m going to say is that grown women feeling good about themselves because a slew of acquaintances gave them a thumbs up is totally ludicrous.
If you are a selfie-taker who only snaps one picture, doesn’t use filters, doesn’t monitor the likes or comments, and only posts them so that your out-of-state relatives can see how much you’ve grown, then please understand that none of this applies to you. I think it is entirely possible that my relationship with the selfie was more dysfunctional and harmful than most.
Sometimes the selfie helps me feel good about myself- but it is a shallow and fleeting “good about myself”. And more often, it makes me feel bad about myself- hypercritical and ultimately disappointed.
I find my flaws forgivable when I see myself in pictures taken spontaneously with people I love or while doing something cool or standing in front of something beautiful. Who cares that my hair is crazy when I’m having so much fun? Who cares that I look tired when I’ve been on a 22 hour road trip? Who cares that I have a double chin when I am cuddled up to the people in my life who bring me joy? Real life shows us the insignificance of our flaws (which really, we don’t have flaws- God makes no mistakes).
But a selfies is all about us- it’s all about the way we look. There is nothing to redeem us from our perceived imperfections.
Nothing monumental happened to turn me off from selfies- I just happened to see one I had posted to facebook one day while looking for something unrelated when I thought to myself, “I don’t need selfies anymore. I don’t want them either.”
To me, the selfie was like a pacifier, a teddy bear, a blankie, or a number of other “childish things”- things that really serve no practical purpose, but imitate the things we want on an instinctive level. Children part ways with their trinkets when they realize that they are just occupying the space meant for something real.
So now that I’m a woman, I’ve decided to put away childish things.
I want to give a thank you to the women I know who have been an example to me by not taking part in the selfie craze, particularly my sister, Megan. Thank you for representing to me that to be female does not mean to be seen, and to be beautiful does not mean to be approved of.