Love Yourselfie

I remember the day I posted my first selfie.

You thought that was petty, didn't you? How sophomoric. A teenage girl writing about the rapture of posting a likely-filtered picture of her own face. Typical.

Well, I do actually remember posting my first selfie, and it’s because I was deathly afraid of reactions like that. Like many of my peers, I subscribed to the idea that there is no separation between confidence and vanity. I thought that celebrating the way I looked meant advertising my insecurity. I feared that the people who saw my photo would accuse me of being narcissistic. I was petrified that I’d be judged as inadequate by the very people I wanted to impress.

But I’d just had my best friend dye my hair pink with a cheap bottle of questionable product, so I was going to go for it.

Scrolling dozens of weeks back on my Instagram, I still think it’s a cute photo. I was sixteen and really excited to have partially pink hair. As it turns out, the most memorable part of posting the selfie wasn’t the likes it garnered or the comments from friends, it was the stress that I put myself through before and especially after hitting “share.”

I spent the entire weekend after the selfie was posted literally obsessing over its reception. I thought about it constantly, even while spending time with my family, doing physics homework, and languishing at marching band practice. I was genuinely worried—preoccupied in the unhealthiest of ways—about how the people who looked at a photo of my sixteen-year-old face would use it to adjust or create their conception of me as a person.

As a slightly-more-mature woman who occasionally likes to take pictures of her eighteen-year-old face, let me impart to you some knowledge: everyone feels this way

The people who think your selfie is vain are themselves insecure. The people who think to themselves or tell others “I can’t believe she posted that” are uncomfortable with your assertion of your beauty. The people who think your choice to post it is a representation of shallow, attention-seeking tendencies have likely never experienced the revelation that is seeing one’s own face taking up the entire screen of your Instagram timeline (and looking fine as hell).

Never have I encountered, in person or through my recommended page, someone who has always been one hundred percent confident in their image. What they tell you in middle school about everyone being too busy being self-conscious to judge you rings true for social media.

I know when I see a selfie of a girl with pristine eyeliner, bright red lipstick, and a well-rehearsed pout, I think, damn, she must really have it all together. But that kind of confidence didn’t happen overnight. She practiced her makeup for hours. She had to boldly reach out to others to make the friends you see inundating her comments with heart-eyes emojis. And, internally, she had to tell herself, perhaps hundreds of times: I look good. And I know it. And no one’s opinion is going to change that.

You look good.

And you know it.

And no one’s opinion is going to change that.

So post the selfie. In the end, you may be surprised by how much better it makes you feel. And, I can guarantee that some of the people who see it are going to assume you’re the perfect, confident one—the one who has it all figured out.

Posting a picture of myself isn’t a cry for attention or a display of vanity. It’s also not automatic narcissism. If you see a picture of myself on my Instagram, it’s because I have come to love the way I look and, yeah, I want to share my flower crown filter or my eyebrows or my smile.

I have a big nose, an awkward hairline, and my skin is far from perfect, but the real liberation comes not from some Disney makeover where I take off my glasses and curl my hair. For me to truly be comfortable with myself, I had to realize that everyone has felt self-conscious at some point, even the people you think are perfect.

Personally, it took years of self-acceptance to reach this point and I don’t love the idea of anyone stopping me from celebrating it. If you and your friend go to Target on a Friday night and buy hair dye for $10 and stain the sink for years to come and you’re excited about how you look, throw insecurity to the wind and post the selfie. (To this day, I refuse to delete that picture because it was “liked” by a British vlogger on Youtube.)

Nowadays, if I want to post a picture of myself, I try not think about the people who cringe at seeing someone embrace their beauty. I ignore the voices, even those in my own mind, that say, “Is that really a good picture?” I just remind myself that I’m proud of how I look, who I’ve come to be, and how I represent myself. I love that feeling.


Image Credit: Acculturated, Amelia Yeager, Alamy via The Sun