I had to read this article for my feminist philosophy class, and it unleashed a contentious debate among the professor and my classmates as to whether “the female selfie” is a visible reflection of patriarchal social norms, or a pushback against the harsh beauty standards set forth by those norms. Here are my thoughts on the matter…
There are a lot of generalizations made about “the female selfie” both positive and negative. I think it would be impossible to make a definitive statement about why all women post selfies because every woman is different. Moreover, I think the desire to dualistically label “the female selfie” as good or bad simply highlights the fundamental misconception about feminism in general which is that all women want the same things or are motivated by the same things. Feminism is about giving women equal opportunity, and then supporting whatever they decide to do with those opportunities. I am sure some women post selfies solely to attract men, some post selfies out of self-love, some are rebelling against harsh beauty standards set forth by gender norms, etc.
I know girls that have posted sexy, albeit filtered selfies on Instagram after a harsh breakup to make an ex-boyfriend jealous. I also have friends that post selfies with no makeup on to show that that is how they feel most beautiful. I also know women that feel most confident with their makeup done, and if they love how their winged eyeliner turns out one day they might post a selfie to show it off to their followers. I have never personally posted a selfie on social media- but I have definitely taken many a selfie (my biggest source of anxiety is someone scrolling through my camera roll). And, who knows- maybe one day I’ll change my mind and decide to post one. I would never judge another woman for posting a selfie, but more importantly I would never form an opinion on “the female selfie” as if it is an ontologically distinct entity rather than an umbrella that describes just one way women can express themselves through social media.
So, I decided to post my first selfie right here. I’m not trying to impress a man, or rebel against the patriarchy. I’m not trying to love myself more, or to seek anyone’s approval. It’s just a picture I took of myself.
JUDGE AWAY! Or don’t. Doesn’t matter to me!