Welcome to 2013 when people are constantly on one of their electronic devices taking pictures and videos of anything and everything they personally find funny, ugly, pretty, gross, and/or entertaining and share it with the world. Overall this has made things pretty entertaining, in fact it is a perfect time for the people who do not have the guts to get paid to be funny, as they can share their hilarity everyday with as large an audience as they can get all without earning a penny. This era of over-sharing has also brought us sleeping adventure babies, a double rainbow, and introduced us to cats both happy and sad; it has also though made popular the controversial “Selfie” …as defined by the Oxford Dictionary:
“A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website…”
Selfies are a unique creature they can be taken for a number of reasons: sometimes to show your friends and family your current cool location, say if you’re on vacation, they allow you to share with your friends far way your fun new haircut or outfit, they can be taken to embarrass the person behind you, or to simply document that you were there with that person for that cool or scary or tragic event, AKA proof.
Unfortunately though not all selfies are created equal, some are filled with insecurity and self-doubt, this almost reads like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Why in the hell would someone take their picture and post it if they were insecure or filled with self-doubt? It’s simple; it’s a reminder.. or… proof. Proof that others see you differently than you see yourself, it is a painful reality many people deal all the time, including myself.
Growing up I was made fun of or “bullied” a lot. I hated school with a passion from grades 3-10- I just could not stand it. To start I really have never understood people my age, I never really appreciated the things they found entertaining or fun to do. If I had a choice between hanging out with people my age or adults I would always pick the adults, and even though they may not have noticed or cared I was around them- I was always more at ease. So this natural reluctance to participate with my peers probably did not help my situation, but to top it off I was fat; and apparently being fat is a crime punishable by mental and emotional torture. The shittiest part was I did not have a problem with my weight, I did not know any different, it’s not like I did it intentionally. It was everyone else who had a problem, everyone else who thought they had a right to make me feel like shit about myself, and no matter how hard I tried not to let those idiots bother me, at the end of the day I am a human so, it hurt.
By late 10th grade I finally felt like I fit in somewhere as a member of the marching band, and arts classes- (BAND GEEK WOOT!) and for the first time I looked at myself in the mirror and realized, DAMN I am fat. So after that I lost weight, 70 pounds because I wanted to, because I could- it was on my terms. I did it through diet and exercise- anyone who says marching band is not a “sport” worthy of the prestigious high school letter jacket has obviously never participated, because it kicked my butt into shape. By the start of 11th grade I finally felt great about myself and although I still did not like school at all, I could most certainly tolerate it much better.
I remember vividly the first class I was in, in 11th grade that I was not the person the idiots made fun of. It was a life skills class and several 11th graders started making fun of a kid in the class who was autistic. Luckily the kid didn’t pick up on the mocking (or he did and it was his defense mechanism), but I did, I knew exactly what they were doing and it pissed me off, and for the first time in my life I realized I had taken away the “power” the idiots had over me, I was not fat anymore. So (after the kid left the class) I looked the group of idiots straight in the eyes and said in the most scary, straight forward, bitchy, threatening voice I could muster (was not that hard, I had years to practice in my head) and said, “Don’t you ever EVER fucking make fun of him again, you will regret it, you will regret it a LOT.” Now they could have made fun of me for saying that, I knew it was possible, but they did not, they knew I was serious and they had no idea what I was capable of. Luckily no one tested my threat because I had no plan, I hated confrontation and do not believe in physical violence. I learned a lot in that class, how to balance a checkbook, that money and math were a neat combination, and how to stand up for others and myself. From there on out things went ok (no worries I did not turn into a bully- that was the only instance of threatening behavior.)
So back to the point- despite the confidence I developed after losing weight I still to this day do not see myself as others see me, my self-image is horrible, when I think of what I look like- I am the fat girl. I even recently lost another 20 pounds while changing my life style a little, so that puts me at a total lifetime weight loss of 90 pounds. I am so excited about it, but I still cannot shake the image I have in my head. Not to sound vain but when I look in the mirror I still feel shocked, wow that’s me? I am not tiny or anything, I am just average size… I want so badly to get over this image issue and I feel I am getting there, 16 years of emotional torture does not go away over night.
So that takes me to selfies and social networks. I am guilty of taking selfies for my profile picture, not because I think I am some hot piece of ass, but because it helps me see myself the way others see me and I also get to see what other people think through their comments or “likes.” It is so stupid, but I guess I learned at a young age that people will give you their opinion whether you ask for it or not, and it’s really nice that this time they have a good opinion. I guess I need that right now.
The next time you look at a selfie and think how narcissistic that person must be stop and consider the alternatives.
PLEASE DO NOT misunderstand- there are some ridiculously narcissistic self-portraits floating around the Internets; by all means tear those apart! But the other ones give them the benefit of the doubt and move along.