Do you support the selfie trend? Do you think it promotes self absorption, vanity and narcissism? Is there a way to incorporate selfies into the Church’s teachings of modesty, authentic beauty, humility? Thanks to Hannah! Linking up with Jen and Morgan!
Sweet Mr. Sweet will tell me I’m great, I’m wonderful, I’m so cute; I’m perfect. But I think if we’re both honest about me, I do have a habit that’s not so great some of the time. I can be obsessed with taking pictures. Photos of what we’re doing; snaps of what we’re eating (check out my Instagram in February…Sunday sundaes are our favorite tradition!); pics of us being adorable. I don’t often take pictures of just myself, but when I do feature in pictures, I am obsessive about my appearance: my hair is messed up or greasy, my acne marks are showing; my forehead looks too prominent; I should’ve applied more lipstick. Clearly my problem isn’t that images feed my vanity. But they do feed something just as ugly: negative self-perception. For me personally, the selfie/photograph and share everything trend is part of a larger need to show perfection, be perfect, which based on all the other photos I see, I am not.
But selfies/carefully edited or filtered images are a false perfection. Sure, some photos show the truth: the sky really was that bright a blue that day, or no struggling with aperture needed to capture the love emanating from a happy couple. Yet when the urge to broadcast ourselves, to ask the world to take notice becomes more incessant, the more we want to only show the “perfect side” of ourselves: we’re only ever a happy couple; we’re only ever on dates with perfect sunsets or eating artfully presented dinners; we’re only ever puckering our lips/standing at a right or left angle with chin up or down. It’s a slippery slope to presenting ourselves as just faces and bodies: “smoky eye is sexier than pastel shadow;” “I’m eating a lollipop;” “maybe if I wore that more body-hugging sweater;” or even “it’d be better to jut my chest or butt out.”
We are called to something different.
Oh, we should show perfection–heavenly perfection that is. God doesn’t care about what 21st-century North American popular convention says is perfect; He cares that we are perfect persons. A person is body+soul together. Perfection is not in our physical ability, our physical attributes, or our capacity to enhance our skin, hair, and body parts. True perfection is in our goodness as people; that we are revealing the capital-T Truth about our dignity and God’s love for us. And we can use selfies and photos to image such beauty to the world.
- Modesty: We can pointedly use selfies to joyfully share how it is possible to dress modestly and share a little about our faith (and maybe where we got that super cute skirt). Maybe if the more women posted the appropriate clothes they wear, the more it will seep into public consciousness that that is the style that amplifies the beautiful woman. (And it’s not all frumpy!) I like Fine Linen and Purple’s “What I Wore Sunday” link-up for those very reasons.
- Authentic Beauty: It seems like it can be hard to capture the joy and goodness of our souls in a static image. But simple little edits can take a selfie from seeking attention (especially via sexuality) to radiating beauty to others: smiling instead of pouting, bringing someone else into the frame and focusing your attention on them and not the camera, and changing the reason behind your posting–not to grab approval or show off, but sharing a moment of God’s call to you and enjoying how He created you to be.
- Humility: As a reminder, humility isn’t thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. It might mean not posting multiple selfies a week, or even month. Maybe just posting one without editing or thinking about how we look–all sweaty from a service project or not editing away blemishes or under-eye circles if we’ve caught ourselves on a morning when we couldn’t get makeup on.
Trends, like many things in this world, are neither good nor bad, but left for us to see how we can use it for God’s glory. In the meantime, I’m going to get my hands on this: