C is for Current Event: Is the “Selfie” Empowering?

Dove’s newest campaign for real beauty has people looking at their selfies in a completely different perspective. “Selfie,” directed by Academy-Award winning director, Cynthia Wade, “reveals how we have the power to redefine what is beautiful in all of us”  with the simple snap of your own picture.

In the video, a group of young girls and their mothers are challenged to take a self-portrait photograph, otherwise known as a “selfie.” In those photos, they are encouraged to “incorporate the things they don’t like about themselves.” One girl was hesitant about photographing her curly hair, while another feared showing off her arms.

The girls’ and their mothers’ selfies were later featured in a photography exhibit. After seeing their faces on display, the participants began to become more comfortable with personal insecurities.

One girl shared, “I don’t look like the people in the magazines… but that doesn’t mean I’m not beautiful.” Another exclaimed, “I was looking through my selfies last night, and I realized that I am beautiful.”

Director Wade shares how a simple selfie can encourage women (and everyone for that matter) to feel more beautiful:

“The way women are defining beauty today is changing dramatically, and social media has much to do with the change. Now we have the ability to photograph the beauty we see in our friends and ourselves.  When we share these diverse images on our social networks, we are taking personal ownership and truly redefining beauty.”

However, not everyone is convinced that a selfie can be self-liberating. There has been much debate surrounding this fad.

On one side of the spectrum, Jezebel contributor, Erin Gloria Ryan, says, “Selfies aren’t empowering; they’re a high tech reflection of the fucked up way society teaches women that their most important quality is their physical attractiveness.”

On the other side, some see the selfie as something that teaches girls to appreciate themselves more and more each day. Slate writer Rachel Simmons suggests,

“The selfie is a tiny pulse of girl pride—a shout-out to the self. If you write off the endless stream of posts as image-conscious narcissism, you’ll miss the chance to watch girls practice promoting themselves—a skill that boys are otherwise given more permission to develop, and which serves them later on when they negotiate for raises and promotions.”

Are selfies narcissistic or empowering? What do you think?


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