Stop, let me take a selfie

The ‘selfie’ generation has been accused of being driven by ego and narcissism, but society demands beauty | Photos by Andreas Patsiaouros

The ‘selfie’ generation has been accused of being driven by ego and narcissism, but society demands beauty | Photos by Andreas Patsiaouros

If you have taken a selfie, you have probably been called a narcissist.

This recent phenomenon for “shallow self-gratification” has prompted countless people to lament endlessly about the modern generation’s growing vanity.

However what many people seem not to realize, is selfies are not a sudden revolution.

People have been taking photos of themselves for over a century.

From the first-ever selfie taken in 1839 to Myspace angle photos of the early 2000s, selfies existed long before the introduction of the front-facing iPhone camera in 2010.

But the popularity of the modern selfie did not gain traction until the last two or three years.

Since the addition of the word “selfie” to the Oxford online dictionary in 2013, selfies have been the topic of much debate over its resonances, substance and purpose.

They have been linked to narcissism and psychopathy.

Selfies have also been slammed for self-objectification and for enabling the “Me Generation.”

When selfies are posted on social media, they are presented as a desire for affirmation rather than an expression of pride.

But to suggest such is to automatically assume girls and women seek to cater to an audience when they are flaunting their appearance.

Their bodies are for the consumption of others, not their own, and any attempts to take control of their own image must be for the benefit of an audience and not themselves.

It is funny psychology experts are criticizing the selfie for enabling a female’s narcissistic needs when, historically speaking, a woman’s most powerful mode of currency has always been her looks.

From magazines to films to television to advertisements, the female body has always been treated as an object to be consumed by the male gaze.

This is what has been taught to generations of women — they must always be conscious of their outward appearance.

The Victoria Secret Fashion Show, an hour-long program of female models strutting around in lingerie, is watched yearly by tens of millions of viewers.

In America alone, cosmetics are a billion-dollar industry. Over centuries, men have groomed girls and women to put their best faces forward.

Only the most beautiful girl gets the prince, only the fairest of the land is worth the envy of the queen.

We get it: you want us to look good.

So here we are, looking our finest in the selfies on our Instagram accounts, yet people don’t seem to like it anymore when the aesthetic gaze is not meant for them.

It is somehow unsettling when a female acknowledges her looks.

She can’t know she looks good and she can’t take pride in it.

It ruins the illusion that female beauty is for men — and only men — to consume. Social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat work as windows for different types of beauty to be viewed and recognized.

Because of this, girls and women are vilified for being the very thing people have groomed them to be.

What a backwards world.

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