Psychology Today Article Defends The Selfie
Being a part of the Myspace generation myself, I'm intimately familiar with what kids these days call, "the selfie." A selfie is a picture that someone takes of him or herself, often on a camera phone, and usually for posting on a social media site like facebook, or originally, Myspace. Taking pictures of oneself in front of a mirror is also commonly referred to as a "Myspace pic."
I may have even been guilty of taking and posting pictures like this of myself, especially in my early college days... and maybe even more recently than that. And the guilt is part of the phenomenon - posters of the "Myspace pic" are often subject to teasing by other social media users, and being poked fun at for being narcissistic. While selfies are sometimes taken by men, women seem to participate in camera phone self-portraiture more frequently. There's also something called a "duck face," which refers to a pouty face made by women while taking a selfie, which is sure to earn social media teasing by facebook friends.
A recent article published in Psychology Today has come out to defend the selfie. The author, Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D, writes that the selfie is really just a modern incarnation of a long human tradition of self-exploration.
The author offers the following reasons why selfies may actually be healthy in an emotional and social sense:
*Selfies allow us to share different facets of ourselves with others through expressive images
*One way to better understand ourselves is to take selfies to try and see how others might perceive us
*In some instances, selfies show oneself participating in an activity that clearly reinforces shared social identity
*Selfies can be "normalizing." Dr. Rutledge explains that, with more self-portraits of normal-looking people in the public sphere, it may be possible to start moving away from harmful idealized images. Media images of beautiful people have been proven to have negative consequences on self-esteem, but selfies and especially "ugly selfies," (which may be in response to the accusation of narcissism related to selfie-taking) have flooded the public sphere with healthy images of normalcy.
Rutledge does not completely deny the selfie-taker's desire for approval by his or her peers. Instead, she reminds us that every human, as a social animal, seeks approval in some way. Selfies may just be another route to emotional health and rewarding social relationships.
Feel free to post your selfie in the comments below!