Are Selfies Vain?


Are Selfies the Path to Change?

The debate continues: narcissism worth loathing, or self-love worth celebrating?


A girl next to me at the grocery store the other day had on the cutest yellow dress. She’d braided her hair in an intricate crown around her head and her winged eyeliner was on point. In short, she looked awesome. Four seconds into our wait, she smiled at her phone and snapped a selfie. The guy behind her rolled his eyes and may have even muttered something about the growing narcissism of the “selfie generation.” I mean, I didn’t exactly hear him, but he totally looked grumpy enough.

Are Selfies the Path to Change?

It’s an observation I’ve heard and read about a lot lately. Some people equate selfies with being vain and narcissistic. Given the way these articles talk about people snapping pictures of their faces all day, it’s easy to see why selfies are associated with the self-absorbed. But people who frown every time they see someone take a picture of themselves are missing the point.

…cries of narcissism lurk in the comments section…

Taking a selfie and sharing it is, first and foremost, an act of self-love. It’s a moment you wanted to preserve, a day you felt confidence in your appearance. Group selfies capture close friendships—quite literally, with everyone crowding to get in frame.  Solo selfies capture happiness and self-confidence. Call me crazy, but these sound like feelings worth celebrating.

Are Selfies the Path to Change?

Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscars–a moment worth documenting!

Posting a selfie on social media is the traditional next step. Here again, cries of narcissism and vanity lurk in the comments section. By sharing a moment in which you felt confident, you pass on a message of confidence to your friends and followers. And don’t stop at your own selfies. Appreciating the beauty that others feel in themselves is just as important. My best friends are gorgeous and live far away: their selfies never fail to brighten my mood. Let the moments when other women felt good inspire you to see beauty in others. It can only lead to seeing beauty in yourself.

Taking a selfie and sharing it is, first and foremost, an act of self-love.

Sharing selfies does more than just give you a confidence boost, though. By papering the Internet with mostly unedited images of women, the selfie trend is the first step in reversing what Photoshopped advertisements have done.

Are Selfies the Path to Change?

Make sure you’re not self-objectifying…

Instead of preying on women’s insecurities, selfies thrive on our confidence. The influx of women feeling good and sharing the feeling with their friends spreads a positive message across a medium traditionally used for body shaming. It’s the first step towards tossing aside Photoshopped beauty ideals and embracing self-confidence instead.

The best way to contribute to the movement is to take genuine selfies in moments when you feel beautiful or happy. Don’t self-objectify by Photoshopping or hyper-sexualizing your selfies to match magazine models. Don’t use selfies to get likes and combat your insecurity. It is possible to go overboard, so make sure that you’re not flooding your Instagram or letting selfie-snapping take over every moment. Instead, make sure that every selfie you take and share is one that celebrates a feeling of happiness, confidence, and love. Enjoying those moments is the first step to building more happiness, confidence, and love in every aspect of your life.

Make sure that every selfie you take and share is one that celebrates a feeling of happiness, confidence, and love.

Selfies are hardly a new trend: people have been getting in front of cameras for a long time (and, before the camera, commissioning portraits of themselves). But never has it been more important. Those who cry “Narcissist!” when they see someone holding their phone out at arm’s length and smiling don’t understand the importance of the movement. It’s more than just the moment you feel cute, though that is the foundation. It’s about spreading self-love and celebrating the beauty in you. What could be more worthwhile than that?

What prompts you to take a selfie and share it?

Born in France but raised all over the place, Auriane has wanted to write ever since she was old enough to spell her name. In her spare time she loves reading, hanging out with her best friends (even when they're not in the same time zone), and spontaneous singing with her Broadway-bound roommate.

Reader Discussion: 68 Comments

  1. Stephanie Craig

    I post my selfies only when I am in a bright mood. I want to share my happiness with my friends and families, and for them to know that I am doing fine and enjoying life as it is. Come on people! It is not just for vanities’ sake! Don’t we all want to feel connected and appreciated? And looking back to those memories will somehow help us through some hard times.

  2. Samantha Ross

    Selfies might be a little vain, but I think it’s harmless, unless you’re like in love with yourself, then you’re a narcissist and need life long therapy lol

  3. Kelly Obsborne

    That’s toxic behavior in social media. I immediately unfollow those.

  4. Zerin Martin

    Selfies can be vain depending on the caption. I’m sure most of you has seen the attention seeker that captions her selfies with “I’m feeling so ugly rn!” But totally looks the opposite. Waits for comments to flood and people tell her about how she looks beautiful and not ugly.

    • Sonya Crespo

      Nobody takes a selfie when they feel ugly. That’s such a waste of time.🤨

    • Katie Rodgers

      Hahahaha I’ve seen those. I don’t even bother commenting.

  5. Renee Craver

    As a woman with a decently large social media presence, I find that selfies seem to have a more positive reasoning than the study suggests. I see men and women posting selfies daily to attempt to better connect with the world around them. I think some might have underlying issues with narcissism and/or self-objectification. However, I don’t believe that posting pictures on a site will lead to a disorder of that magnitude. Are we to believe that social-media suddenly caused a whole generation to become narcissistic? I think there’s I much more innocent explanation than then this. Increased connectivity in an increasingly technological world. The selfies I look at daily are about empowerment and self-confidence in addition to the basic need for a human’s need for socialization.

  6. Victoria Bergman

    My nephew posts nothing on his facebook but a near daily picture of himself and they are always in his bathroom looking at himself. He is very emo/goth looking, and often dyes his hair different colors and is always styling it in a certain way – I feel he is more of the self-objectifying selfie-taker. He’s only 15. I think it’s sad.

  7. Kaya Bongiorno

    I love photography, love taking pictures and many if not all of my friends know I take a lot of pictures and post a lot of them. Since I have a job that travels, I have been encouraged to take pictures of interesting things, scenery and myself. This is not associated with any disorder besides positive reinforcement of friends-family. I guess if I had the face of a bulldog, and I wanted to justify why I didn’t like selfies I’d come to the conclusion that selfies are neurotic, but this is far from the fact.

  8. Carol Janda

    Maybe I just don’t know enough people who take selfies. But by far the most common thing that I see in a selfie picture is the same situation that you used to have to ask a stranger to take your camera and capture for you. If you meet someone famous, if you’re in a beautiful place, if you’re doing something cute with a friend, you can either seek someone out, give them your camera, instruct them how to use it, and pose, or turn your camera around and take a picture of yourself, now that technology has a screen you can see the shot im. I didn’t see in the slightest what’s supposed to be any more narcissistic/self-objectifying/ about latter than the former.

  9. Pam Larrabee

    Doing anything in access isn’t good, but as long as you lead a balanced life than selfies will simply be another way to have fun in the digital age.

  10. Clary Stern

    Selfies have been also considered as self-objectification, Which is when people view their body as an object based on its sexual value and tend to drive their sense of self-worth from appearance. That’s why I think selfies are not good for some people.

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