Before You Judge Someone For Taking Selfies, Remember This

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 

Selfie. Sometimes that feels like a dirty word. Selfie. Taking a picture of yourself and putting it on social media for the entire world (or just your inner circle) to see has become a fairly everyday thing. Over the last eight years or so, as phone cameras have become better and social media sites like Instagram have risen in popularity, sharing selfies has become a lot easier.

For some reason, there are people who take serious issue with other people taking and sharing selfies. Seeing someone post a flattering photo of themselves really irks some people. To the point where the Judgey McJudgersons will passive aggressively talk shit about people who take and share selfies. This is total bullshit. People who post selfies all have their own reasons for doing so, and none of them are worthy of being judged.

I hate taking pictures of myself. I always have, really. As a result, there aren’t a ton of pictures of me floating around. And after I became a mom, this became even more true. I didn’t want to take pictures of myself looking disheveled and sleep-deprived, and the first few years I didn’t go anywhere that warranted me looking nice enough to just snap a random picture of myself. As I started coming out of that fog, sometimes I wanted to document a day where I was feeling good about myself.

Taking the occasional selfie is a thing that makes me feel good. When I’m feeling good about myself, I like to capture that moment as quickly as I can. Because those moments are few and far between. As a single, work-at-home mom, my interaction with the outside world is minimal. So, most of the time, I look like a frumpy mom. Not feeling like a frumpy mom is reason enough to take a picture of myself.

Selfies are a digital form of expression. You may find it irritating or mundane, but I assure you, selfie-posting people are not sharing just to be frivolous. And even if they are, what gives you the right to judge them for it? Being told that your outfit looks nice or knowing that others think your new haircut looks cute doesn’t make you vain; it makes you human. Everyone wants to be told they look nice — it is human nature to seek outside validation. That doesn’t mean that people who post selfies, no matter how frequently, are narcissistic. It just means they’re human and might be in need of a little emotional boost. If you don’t like it, scroll past it.

In a world where people, especially women, are bombarded with images of “perfection” and unrealistic beauty standards, posting selfies is almost radical. Because those people who are choosing to document themselves are often going against whatever is the mainstream.

“I take selfies because I like to capture a feeling. Sometimes it’s anxiety or happiness or confidence. Sometimes I like how I look and want to remind myself of that because often I don’t feel good about myself. I also know that my look makes people think and take notice because how I present myself transcends what sexuality and gender means to most people. It’s fun to challenge what people think they know,” explains Amber Leventry, a non binary writer and LGBTQ advocate/public speaker.

Taking a selfie is easy. But sharing a selfie is an incredibly vulnerable thing to do. You are opening yourself for the world to see. No matter how cute I may think I look, there are plenty of times where my finger will hover over the “post” button because I’m scared. Scared that someone will say something mean. Worried that maybe someone will think that I’m vain, which I am definitely not.

For the average person, even the best Instagram filter can’t cover every single thing. If you don’t like the way your nose looks, or you think your ears stick out too much, there is only so much cheating you can do in a picture. Presenting yourself in all of your imperfection is extremely brave. Because more often than not, even after you’ve posted the picture, you’re going to find a flaw with it. Even if that flaw isn’t obvious to anyone but you, you’re going to notice it. And having the courage to live in your flaws is harder than it looks. No one is immune to the insecurity that comes with sharing selfies online.

When a person shares a selfie, we don’t know what the motivation behind it is, we only see the final product. It’s easy to say the person is trying to live up to a certain perception of perfection. But what if that person has been feeling really down about themselves? What if they are healing from heartbreak? What if they are working through trauma? That selfie could be the few minutes where they were able to dig out of those dark feelings and actually felt like allowing themselves to been seen by the world.

Believe it or not, it takes a lot to share yourself with the world, even when you’re having a good day. But it’s those times when you’re really doubting yourself and you do it anyway that make the difference. Even if only a few people “like” it, that could be the boost a person needs to get out of bed the next day.

And here’s the thing, selfies aren’t for everyone. If you don’t feel comfortable taking them or posting them, that’s your choice. If you’d rather take them and never post them, that’s okay too. What you share on social media is 100% your choice — that’s what makes social media so great. That being said, judging or condemning people who choose to take and share selfies doesn’t make you some sort of evolved person. Actually, it makes you a little bit of an asshole. Because no one asked your permission to exist the way they see fit.

If someone you follow posts too many selfies for your liking, you have options. You can keep scrolling, you can mute them, or you can even unfollow them. All of these options are very easy to follow through with. You’re not being forced to see anyone’s selfies.

Social media is whatever you want it to be. If you want to, you can cultivate your feeds to be nothing but videos of puppies falling down stairs. You can follow nothing but home improvement pages. When you don’t like something, you have the option to just pretend you never saw it. Try it, it’s actually not that hard. Whether a person snaps a quick picture of themselves in their bathroom while they’re getting ready for the day, or I post a selfie in a dress and makeup because I wear nothing but leggings and t-shirts all day, we can do that.

Sharing a selfie when you’re not in the best place emotionally or physically is hard to do. Opening yourself up to the potential backlash is incredibly brave. And the people who are choosing to do that don’t need assholes to give them shit for it. If they want to spend five minutes or 50 minutes taking pictures of themselves, it’s nobody’s business but theirs.

Maybe next time, reserve your judgment for something that actually deserves it.

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