The Summer Selfie – the epitome of narcissism?

Picture of By Kajsa Rosenblad

By Kajsa Rosenblad

Summer is here! This means traveling, seeing new things, and – naturally – posting snapshots that’ll make your Instagram followers envy you. Capturing experiences and, more specifically, taking pictures of your face in front of something you’ve experienced, is narcissistic and a waste of time according to an article on De Correspondent. The writer discusses the mindless matter in which we take pictures of everything, forgetting the life that lies behind the lens. Though I somewhat agree with this, as a lot of people indeed spend too much time taking pictures of their cappuccinos, when people go against the selfie, they lose me. Here’s why.

First of all, to say that taking a selfie is the peak of narcissism is an exaggeration. Sure, many argue that an epidemic of narcissism is developing among young people, for which a possible explanation is definitely attributable to social media. However, I would like to point out that just a few generations away people were paying artists to paint huge portraits of themselves, of their children, of their dogs, of them conquering places and killing stuff. These paintings were hung around the house, at public display. We’re talking about huge paintings and huge sums of money that go along with them. And don’t even get me started on statues. Having a piece of marble carved out to resemble you must surely be worse than posting a selfie every once in a while.

Secondly, I would like to raise the question of selfies on a structural level. Oh yes she went there. Who are the best selfie takers? Young girls, or women in general. To criticize the selfie, calling it narcissistic and a waste of time, is to criticize women feeling good about themselves and wanting to share this with the world. Let me paint the picture for you. To make women feel bad about their appearance is a billion-dollar industry.

Girls should look pretty
We’re not supposed to have hair anywhere, if we don’t use this or that cream we will surely get cellulitis (just a heads up, almost all women have cellulitis, it’s completely natural and something that accompanies having an ass), and then there’s makeup. Oh, the makeup. We spend time and money to make our eyes and cheekbones pop, paint our lips and cover blemishes. Not going through this daily ritual of self-perfection, makes you ‘look tired’, gets you funny looks or even called out for not shaving your legs. Not being an artificially created ‘perfect’ version of yourself is ‘lazy’ and ‘a shame’, cause imagine how pretty she would be if she just took care of herself more.

So there we go. Girls should look pretty, a lesson as old as society itself. This is where the selfie comes in. This is the first time that girls and women are showing off how pretty they look and feel. And I’m not saying that a selfie has to include a lot of makeup or a mainstream ‘pretty’ face. I’m saying that a precondition to posting a selfie is that you feel damn good about yourself and your looks.

Why is is that we girls can NEVER do ANYTHING right?

You know who is deeply uncomfortable with women feeling empowered? The patriarchy. So the selfie, a skill perfected by young girls, is butchered. It’s narcissistic, it’s a waste of time, it’s embarrassing. And here’s the funny thing. Girls posting pictures of themselves looking and feeling pretty is bad. Girls not complying with what is considered pretty is bad. Why is it that we girls can NEVER do ANYTHING right?

Deal with it
Let it go. Is it really a threat when girls feel good about themselves and want to share it? Is it really that problematic to take pictures of what you experience on holiday, to share with family and friends? Of the top of that, I think more pressing questions regarding the topic are voluntourism, cultural appropriation or rape culture. This is what is problematic with western tourism, the pictures we take just tag along with the real issue. And, by the way, that’s a picture of me and my vacay Aperol. Deal with it.

Cover: Kajsa Rosenblad

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