A selfie by any other name…

Throughout high school it felt like my camera was permanently attached to my fingertips.  I was constantly taking pictures of my friends and of myself and lived for the moments they dropped down the Gretag One Hour Photo machine at the CVS where I worked.  Occasionally I would find that my friend Allie had stolen my camera to take a picture of herself when I had left the classroom and it always made me smile.  You could say that selfies were part of my life before I even knew the word, and let me tell you, taking a selfie without knowing what the result was going to be was rather difficult.  Would the shot be angled correctly?  Would we look like crap or the gorgeous creatures we were?  It felt like a gamble and my precious 35 mm film were the stakes.

Last night, I posted a flipagram collage of 2013 like many other people in my news feed.  I took the time to select the pictures I felt best represented the year without dwelling on the sucky parts. Within a few hours I had some notifications.  One friend, who has emphatically stated her loathing of selfies in the past, reminded me yet again how much she hates them.  I tried letting it go and only replied with joking answers to keep the tone light, since I personally dislike that people use facebook as a means to engage in petty arguments or tell people their life choices are wrong.  After a few volleys, I ultimately deleted the video and reuploaded because 2013 was negative enough without my review of the year covered in negative comments.  I was content to just leave it at that as I really care about and respect this person, but found myself unable to sleep for hours because the sting of her selfie loathing was still rooted in the back of my mind.

Who cares about selfies?  Sure, I think #funeralselfie is just as distasteful as the next person.  I think shots of people using the bathroom are gratuitous as well.  But who am I to judge?  Perhaps that is the only way they know how to deal with their grief?  I know my friend Elyse has made an artform of using her snapchat account to hilariously document her bowel movements, and while that’s not for me, you do you boo.  I ain’t mad at her.  You never know what is really going on behind the lens of these selfies and why these people felt compelled to share them, so you can’t really judge them.  To that point, I selected a few of the selfies from the offending flipagram to dig a little deeper.  Perhaps people really only want to show off how cute they look that day, but perhaps that was a personal triumph they wanted to share.  Who knows? I sure don’t.

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Where you see a selfie, I see:

  • a fashion blogger proudly bringing her 1920s obsession to the streets.  Or the rink. Whatever.
  • a girl covered in gifts people gave or made her because they care about her.
  • a reminder that even though things ended poorly with Jim that we still had fun and enjoyed one another’s company an awful lot.

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Where you see a selfie, I see:

  • a really great brunch on family vacation.
  • a granddaughter bursting with pride for her grandfather’s lifetime achievement award.
  • a grown woman that has found her place in her step-family and now knows they love her more than she can ever imagine, despite growing up feeling inferior because she wasn’t related by blood.

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Where you see a selfie, I see:

  • an awesome trip to the beach with friends.
  • a fashion blogger proudly displaying her love for her overalls that everyone hated on.
  • a free spirit finally unafraid to wear what she wants because she will never have to endure countless arguments with her boyfriend about who would see her body.

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Where you see a selfie, I see: 

  • a shot that took a lot of time and effort to capture the artistic vision in my head.
  • a fashion blogger finally confident to share her image with the internet after working really hard to lose the 25 lbs of grief weight that kept her from outfit posts.
  • a reminder of the day I went into the city to tell someone how I felt even though I knew it wasn’t reciprocated.  This was the day I learned I was fearless.

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Where you see a selfie, I see:

  • two friends enjoying a great vacation.
  • a friend that made me feel better because not only did my bank close my debit card while we were away in Vermont, but they placed me on hold so long I missed the first group picture (and I think we’ve established how I feel about pictures with my friends).
  • two strong women whose friendship was temporarily derailed for a few years finally reconnecting and having a stronger friendship than the first time around.

All I am saying is there is no need to judge people for the way they chose to use social media if it doesn’t harm anyone.  Not one of these pictures indicate I am a bad person, so why would a friend try to make me feel like one?  I’m not her, so I don’t think I will ever really know why she hates selfies so much, but I know she is not alone.  There are enough haters looking to troll on fashion bloggers (or any blogger, really) that friends should be supportive, even if they don’t always agree. Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky is one of my biggest role models because she routinely gets negative commentary on her posts and she refuses to let it keep her down or stop her from living a bold and fulfilling life.  I’m not asking people to change their mind about selfies, just as I won’t change mine, but pause before changing the blinking cursor in the comments box into something that could hurt someone you care about.  Life is too short.

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