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#Selfies: Toxic or Empowering?

By Brittany Posey--Selfies on social media have become an ubiquitous image. The motivation surrounding the sharing and posting of selfies from social media users is varied, although there is the belief circulating that selfies are a form of approval-seeking behavior.In an article from Common Sense Media, the author discusses the popularity and possible toxicity of selfie sharing on social media.

According to the author, the cultivation and dissemination of selfies may begin as a neat way to document and share experiences, but can result in the development of obsession about approval that can cause serious self-destruction with an individual’s self-image. The proverbial comparison game is one of exhaustion and cyclic self-loathing and discontentment. As the author argues, social media selfies are used as a tool to receive and offer feedback, which can present troubling outcomes for users and posters alike.

In determining whether or not approval-seeking behavior is present, the author encourages social media users to question their impetus of selfie postings. Gauging one’s self-image (and even self-worth) on the number of followers, likes, and emojis received following a selfie posting can leave an individual feeling desperate for validation and approval.

Selfies are not inherently wrong, in my opinion. However, when we place an appearance-driven phenomenon in the context of the culture we exist in, selfies aren’t just an ephemeral trend or version of self-expression. The question should be asked: Are selfies a reflection of what we have been taught to be our entire lives, an image to be looked at? Is there a level of validation being sought by selfie-posters that is seeking the approval of others regarding their personal appearance? Although social media and selfie feedback can foster relationships and engagement, and even bolster self-esteem, they can also be destructive.

Some might argue that selfies and the posting of them are empowering. Are these individuals confusing empowerment with ‘feeling beautiful’ or ‘feeling like other people think I look good’? The very definition of empowerment must go beyond this notion. Are we seeking out recognition for that which we value in ourselves, or just posting a photo of ourselves as an effort to share our lives?

Bottom line, power can’t be reduced to something that is created and gained through appearance or societally defined beauty. Such an idea is fleeting and can be dissolved at any moment. Our power isn’t in our physical appearance; it’s in who we are and what we do. Harness that power!

Image courtesy of Children's Health

More by Brittany:

Activists Ask H&M to Use Plus-Size Mannequins for Their Plus-Size Line (Makes Sense, Right?)

Bodysnarking in "Compliments": Looking Critically at Media Coverage of Celebrity Weight Loss

I Had No Idea That ED's Voice Wasn't MY Voice

What Eating Disorders Really Look Like

Troian Bellasario on Recovery in the Spotlight: "Sometimes I Feel Like I Don't Belong"


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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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