In praise of selfies

I love selfies. For so many little reasons. I love feeling like I just got a glimpse into someone’s inner world. Sometimes even into someone’s intimate spaces. I love seeing that this is a moment that person felt beautiful or fun or just saw themselves in a way they wanted to show the world.


I understand the thinking that this is completely narcissistic. That this trend is just everyone who does it saying “look at me!” But when you think about all the messages around us everyday meant to tear us down, I personally think a little self-love action is a great antidote. It seems everywhere you look there is another message, usually selling you something, that says “fix yourself! There is something terribly wrong with you, buy this thing to fix it!”

For me, seeing a photo of someone in my timeline doesn’t say “I’m so amazing and full of myself” but rather “this is me today,” or “I felt beautiful just now.” Man, I hope we aren’t asking people not to feel that way or share it. Because I’d love to see more people embracing themselves with love. Today.

I love that it is a way that the person taking it has full control over how they present themselves. How often is that the case? That we can choose all the variables. This is exactly how I want you to see me, this is how I see myself. That can be pretty powerful. And I’m not interested in calling that vanity. I call it autonomy.

And here is what else I know: people who like themselves don’t pick a part other people. Genuinely confident people do not spend their time being overly critical of others. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to live in a world where more people spent time loving themselves than being nasty to others. We don’t need more people tearing each other down, and self-love and compassion is a great path in that direction. In fact, if you find yourself grand standing in judgement against “selfie takers,” I would recommend turning that finger back at yourself. What are you adding to the world by being critical of how another person choses to spend that 5 minutes of their time? Even if you are completely right, what are you actually adding to the world besides judgement? Is that useful or helpful to anyone?

There are enough random ass rules of conduct, especially for women. Don’t be this size, don’t be this strength. Hate yourself into a specific ideal, hate yourself if you get there too. Be confident! But don’t tell anyone about it. Don’t act like it, no one likes that either. I’m not interested in a single one of those ideas. I’ll never be the perfect mix of strong, weak, big, small, confident, self-loathing, humble, proud… I’m not trying to be.

Nothing is without exceptions. Perhaps a timeline full of selfies taken at every meal could feel like too much. I’m not here to determine where the line is and make all the rules. If someone’s online choices bother you, I’m a big fan of hiding them and moving on.

But I won’t call selfies narcissism. I won’t be angry about seeing faces of people I enjoy in my timeline. I won’t make blanket statements about vanity in others to buoy my own self-concept and choices. I love a selfie. But mostly I love giving others lots of space to make their own dang choices. There is enough judgement in the world, this is a space I just won’t offer any.


Erin Brown