The Selfie as Art and Therapy
Updated: Nov 3, 2021
In social media I've seen a lot of criticism of the "Selfie". Often I see it characterized as vanity, but I've come to realize that the "Selfie" can be so much more.
I've always hated pictures of myself. I always tried to edge away when someone took out a camera. I focused on being on the fringes of a group or skulking behind someone taller than me.
I spent a lot of time listening to the hurtful voice in the back of my head telling me that I looked awful in every picture ever taken of me, the same hurtful voice that never hesitated to critique every aspect of me and my life.
The idea of purposefully taking a picture of myself and sharing it on social media seemed like complete madness, but I became tired of listening to that hurtful, negative voice in my head.
At the beginning of 2016, I decided that enough was enough. I was done listening to the voice.
Selfie as Modern Self Portrait
The self portrait is a time honored tradition among artists, who, admittedly, often use it to practice technique and new ideas, especially when finding a model is hard to come by, but it's also a confrontation of the self. You're gazing into your own eyes, looking at your own face and figure.
It's hard to avoid truth when it's looking you directly in the eyes.
I decided to try this. I started with a weekly selfie, taking my daughter's expert advice to take at least ten shots to get one that you like. She was right. For every ten pictures, I would find one that I didn't completely hate so I found taking and posting the selfie a lot less traumatic than expected. As an artist, I built on this and included my own face in a few pieces of artwork.
The hurtful voice became more and more quiet. The Selfie Self Portrait project was helping me to dismantle my inner trigger of self criticism.
The Selfie became a useful tool in my journey of self discovery.
Selfie as Creativity
Try it. Pick up your phone. Try a few different poses. Experiment with different angles and different lighting.
Take a lot of pictures. The more of them you take, the more of them you will probably like.
If you try a google search for Self Portraits in photography, you may be surprised at the variety and the quality. It can be a good jumping off point for ideas you may want to explore.
I love creativity. I believe all humans are creative beings and expressing that creativity is an essential part of achieving personal balance. The Self Portrait can be a great way to play with that creativity, without worrying about the expense of a model.
The Self Portrait that I've included with this post is one that I completed a couple of months ago for a a Self Portrait exhibition in Anchorage. I enjoyed the process of self exploration more than I anticipated. You might surprise yourself.
Selfie as a Record of Where You've Been
Whether you like social media or not, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and similar sites gain in use and popularity by the month.
Taking a Selfie of where you are and who you were with is a convenient photographic record of your present. It's an easy way to record your life and your experiences. It would be smart to download those images to your hard drive, back them up, even upload them to your Cloud.
Some of our ancestors kept journals. Our grandparents and parents took hundreds of snapshots. It seems like social media is the modern equivalent of that family record keeping or personal journaling.
I've seen disparaging comments about sexy poses and half naked images, but why should we pretend? Is it so awful if your grandchildren and great-grandchildren meet the real you of your youth? Why should we self-edit and white wash who we are? Be your own truth. Revel in who you are. Don't pretend because 100 years from now someone might discover that you were a flawed, three dimensional person.
Don't underestimate the value of the "Selfie". It's a useful tool for self expression and creativity. It's a potential window into your own soul.
Take a few. You may surprise yourself with the value of what you find inside.