The selfie is a much maligned form of self-expression.
For those unaware, a “selfie” consists of any photograph of yourself, taken by yourself, without anyone else in it and for no other real purpose except that of showing your face/clothes/make-up/other. It perhaps only becomes a true selfie when posted on some sort of social media or public forum, but the debate as to whether a selfie that no one sees is a selfie at all is one for another day.
Tumblr is the place you’re likely to see the most selfies. This is for a number of reasons; the people you’re friends with on here are likely not to know you in real life, and as such sharing your face adds another dimension to your relationship. It also allows slightly less interesting posts to become more interesting, perhaps with a picture of you holding up whatever it is you’re posting about etc.
I definitely don’t look like this all the time, but who cares! I can love myself on my terms.
Most pertinently to this post however, it is the quickest and easiest way to receive validation from your peers. You don’t need many followers at all to discover the unique buzz that someone like a picture of you gives. Even better, they might reply to it declaring how excellent you look.
Now, the title of this post is a bit misleading. I’m of the opinion that the concept of vanity is something we probably wouldn’t have if we didn’t live in a patriarchal society. If women weren’t expected to appear constantly perfect, conforming to society’s expectations, then we probably wouldn’t carry hand mirrors or look at our reflection in shop windows and feel a burn of shame that someone might spot us and think we’re admiring ourselves. .
So let’s reclaim vanity. Our appearances are battlegrounds; we’re too fat, too thin, wearing too much make-up too obviously, too little clothing or not enough. Screw that. Let’s carry on the selfie revolution that tumblr has kicked off where we celebrate our appearances whether we’re wearing a face full of make-up or none at all. We have the right to post images from the very best angle that show us in our best light, because confidence is something we’ve been wrongly trained to see negatively. We also have the right not to post anything showing how we look because tumblr can also be a safe space where we can be perceived as we feel we are inside.
So next time you think about criticizing someone for posting too many selfies, or hesitate when posting one of yourself, don’t Tumblr is a safe space where you and I can be seen as we feel we are, we can develop confidence and come to love ourselves not in spite of our so called ‘flaws’ but because of them. Take sites like stretch-love that embrace stretch marks and call them tiger marks instead, and the wonderful sugartits, a safe space to submit nudes without vilification or risk.
Feminism is hugely complex and has many far more important agendas, but let it liberate you into loving yourself, or at least hating yourself on your terms - we can’t erase the marks of our patriarchal society that make looking in the mirror so difficult, but we can celebrate ourselves.
EDIT: I feel I should also point out that I feel very strongly that women should be seen as more than just attractive, or there to look pleasing, so please read this article with that in mind.