This piece was originally written for Facebook and cross-posted on the DFW Vagina Monologues Weebly website blog.
I like selfies. A lot.
My selfies are for me. I take them because I feel pretty, or I don't, or I am or am not; because it's fun, because there is no shame in taking pleasure in frivolity, and because it helps me make a memory whereas my brain otherwise typically fails at retaining such trivial things. Because I'm awesome and do incredible things, because I'm depressed and insecure in spite of this because my brain is terrible. Sometimes I retouch them to hide blemishes and sometimes I don't. #Flawless
I don't share them to solicit compliments, attraction, or validation any more than I bathe, brush my teeth, dress myself, or color my face, hair, and nails to do so.
“Assuming that a woman is fretting over a man when she gets dressed in the morning is condescending at best, dangerously sexist at worst. And it ascribes a huge part of her autonomy to the passing interest of an imaginary man that she likely doesn’t care about in the least.” (Source)
I share them because I'm happy, because I trust you, because I'm unhappy, because I'm miserable and upset, because I'm real, because I want to have nothing to hide, because I want to challenge the socially acceptable ways of using social media, because I want others to feel free to enjoy themselves and taking selfies.
Sitting here writing this, I'm delighted to see that 7 out of 9 of my friends' profile photos on the left of my Facebook home page are pretty, happy, silly, fierce, skeptical, adorable, handsome, bad-ass selfies.
Other writers have explained how selfies are radical acts of self-love in a society that condemns vanity in women and rewards such confidence in men. “We need to start teaching girls that confidence is not a sign of vanity, but rather a marker of healthy self-perception and positive thinking.”
Selfies can be a blatant middle finger to the patriarchy by wrenching control from the male gaze and focusing that gaze by our consent as we choose and on our own terms. Selfies have been around for centuries and are an ancient art form. Whinging about the so-called narcissism of our generation is unoriginal and trite, and when speaking of selfies, it’s further proof of entrenched sexism, specifically misogyny.
Women are told to hide themselves constantly, and that to actually like themselves and the way they look is somehow wrong. They’re told that they’re never good enough, that any flaw is unacceptable. Narcissism? Fuck off, these girls are showing that, somehow, through all the bullshit and the pressure to hate themselves, they’ve managed to grow their self-esteem enough to share their faces with the world. They’re taking a risk and putting themselves out there. They’re expressing themselves. Sharing themselves. They’re making a statement, which is simply “I’m good enough to be seen.” (Source)
And, frankly, we enjoy doing things to piss off stodgy jerks with an over-inflated sense of self importance nearly as much as for our own pleasure.
Moniqa Paullet, 2014-15 performer of “My Short Skirt” in the DFW Vagina Monologues, is an editor, triathlete, fire spinner, intersectional feminist and size acceptance activist. You can follow her #fitasfuckfeminist selfies on Instagram @FieryMon.