Ah, the beloved “selfie.” How many are currently on your various devices and social media accounts? Upwards of too many I’m sure. So what is it with these culturally acceptable photos of one’s self? Where does this need to plaster our face on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Snap Chat (I’m sure I missed a few) come from?
We live in a world fixated on appearance and a sexualized society that flaunts photo shopped beauty resulting in people striving to obtain unrealistic, unauthentic, flawlessly good looks. We stalk our favorite celebs to get fashion tips. We spend hours on You Tube figuring out how to use makeup to contour our face into someone at times unrecognizable. From trying to be Dwayne Johnson jacked or Victoria Secret model thin, appearance can quickly become how we define ourselves. So, is this why the infamous selfie is so popular among our culture today? Have we allowed the most emphasized part of our identity to become literally skin deep?
As someone who had struggled my whole life with self-esteem issues regarding my weight, I allowed that insecurity to define who I was. And before you assume I was a girl obsessing over counting calories and shedding pounds, I was in fact doing quite the opposite making myself sick on protein shakes and obsessing over making the number on that dreaded scale go up. I just sensed the number of eye rolls I got. What girl thinks they are too skinny? This one. People frequently and harshly spoke that opinion over me, the one that told me I was too skinny and looked sick – anorexic they called it. I allowed that irrelevant opinion people had of me to shape the opinion I had of myself. I allowed other people to alter my sense of self and inadvertently that became what I chose to define myself with.
When we are constantly critiqued on our appearance, the approval of others becomes far too significant. As people living in an appearance driven culture, it is my belief that we have misplaced where we find our sense of acceptance and identity. Case and point: Get a mirror and look at yourself. What is the first thing you see? Do you see a successful student? An accomplished employee? A nurturing mother? A protective father? Or did you see a pimple? A hair out of place? An uneven complexion? I often found looking in the mirror to be very uncomfortable. Until my epiphany.
Sitting in the gym one night, the mirrors were unavoidable. Where I typically tried to evade the reflection of myself, I was faced head on with it. As one who finds the practice of checking myself out in the mirror, specifically in public, extremely awkward, said awkwardness ensued. Insert epiphany. This girl in the mirror whose hair was a hot mess and was literally breaking out like a thirteen year old girl – THIS girl was beautiful. She had defined herself far too long with the opinion of others and in that moment she let that go. She became defined by something far greater than what was in that mirror. In that moment she conquered the fear of hating who she saw looking back at her by loving the not put together messy version of herself realizing she was created to be so much more than a flawlessly filtered picture on social media.
As we ponder this idea of identity and where we get it from, is it possible we have sought it from all the wrong places? Opposed to having uncertainty about who you are and needing the approval of others to satisfy our sense of self-worth perhaps the missing link is finding our identity in the very one who created us. Perhaps it is there that we will find the fulfillment we searched for in hundreds of likes on our Facebook photos. Perhaps it is there we become more than insecure and can beam with confidence. Worth a thought.