Ahhhhh, the selfie.
The simple act of taking a picture of oneself, usually taken with the intention of posting the photo on a social media website to display to others.
With websites like Instagram and Facebook gaining popularity among internet users, selfies have become a mandatory aspect of self-representation in the world of social media.
There’s even a song about selfies.
While taking a picture of oneself may seem harmless, it has been argued that taking and posting selfies has a negative impact on an individual’s body image.
Briggs (2014, N. Pag) addresses the issue of selfies, explaining that increased exposure to the selfies of others causes individuals to negatively compare themselves to such images through means of comparison and criticism. She discusses how self-image is valued and declared via photos on social media websites, and how frequent comparisons of a person’ selfie to another person’s results in a negative perception of one’s own appearance.
Taking a photo of oneself and posting it to a social media website is often done simply to seek and hopefully receive the approval of others through commentary and discussion. Furthermore, many individuals who post selfies arguably do so to achieve virtual “likes” on their picture, a feature that exists on both Instagram and Facebook.
As media progresses, so does its virtual features, such as photo-enhancing options for images. Instagram is recognized for its many “filters” that can be applied to photos that one uploads which are intended to alter the overall appearance of the photo.
Other options for photo-enhancement exist as well. Smartphone applications like Snapseed or Retrica are designed to tune and alter images, offering specific effects like light alteration and blurring options to allow an individual to change a photo until it is deemed postable. Options of this type can completely transform an individual’s image, or selfie, meaning users can transform how they look in order to comply with what they think is appealing and complementary to their body image.
The selfie has and continues to progress at a steady rate. It is important to note that while selfies can provide a person with self-assurance and self-appreciation, too much exposure or affiliation with selfie-taking is harmful to how one perceives their body.
Perhaps the best way to approach the selfie issue is to evaluate why a person is posting it. If it is to seek the approval of others, it is likely that posting the photo is not being done in a positive manner.
Briggs, Helen. “‘Selfie’ Body Image Warning Issued.” 2014. N. Pag. BBC NEWS. Web. 1 March 2015.
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