With the launch of Kim Kardashian’s new book, Selfish, this month selfies and selfie-culture is on everyone’s mind. Or at least it’s been on my mind. I should confess that I’ve always been fond of self-portraits and let’s face it that’s what selfies are- quick, modern self-portraits. Long before Kim K. was publicly sharing her books for Kanye with the rest of us, I have been known to make a (private) book or 2 for my own husband. While most of my selfies never make it from my phone to the internet and I doubt any will ever be compiled into a book, I am a selfie lover.
I’d venture to say that Mrs. Kardashian-West and I share little in common. From lifestyle to family origins to our professional paths to the size of our bank accounts (and other assets *wink*) – we are pretty far apart. And I know that we’re not alone in this selfie craze. Millions of us are busy snapping pics of our selves all over the place- whether we post them to Instagram or Facebook or not.
So, what is it about selfies that is so attractive to so many of us? Contrary to what many might say, I don’t think it’s an inherent narcissism in the human race or even American’s obsession with celebrity and fame. While there is truth to both these points of view, I’d like to propose that selfies are in fact a form of self-care.
Before you dismiss my idea as just another therapist putting a happy spin on self-indulgence, hear me out.
I’m not alone in my assertion that by stopping to photograph ourselves we are in fact taking time to be mindful and present and acknowledge our own beauty (whether we use a filter or not). In a recent article for PsychCentral.com, associate editor and body image advocate Margarita Tartakovsky, MS says,
“If we’re taking a photo of an object or our natural surroundings, we’re paying attention. We’re listening. We’re absorbing an object’s lines, a park’s multicolored leaves. If we’re taking a photo of ourselves, we’re seeing ourselves. Really seeing. We’re listening, too. We’re acknowledging.”
It is in the acknowledging of ourselves that self-care becomes part of selfies. As women we are encouraged and trained to turn our focus outward. We see the beauty and goodness in others and care for and nurture their best parts. But self-care is about turning that compassionate focus inward and acknowledging the beauty and goodness within. When we take a picture, even a quick snap with our cell phone camera, we are stopping for a moment to honor the beauty, joy, contentment, and awe that our subject brings to life- be it that first cup of Starbucks in the morning or your child’s smiling face.
With self-care selfies, we are focusing on finding those same amazing qualities, however briefly, in ourselves. Sure we can Photoshop and add filters and crop just right to make theses pictures look “flawless” but even with the enhancements, the moment you capture your own image you remind yourself that you matter. Take those books I made my hubby- yes they were gifts for him but the process was almost more rewarding for me. In the process of creating images to show my love, I had to stop and appreciate what I love about myself. From pretty eyes to long legs, to a great smile, or gentle hands- every one of us have beautiful and amazing features. And they deserve our admiration occasionally.
Too often we treat self-care as either indulgence or selfishness, or worst yet, both. Self-care is what allows us to grow and thrive and love the ones around us. It is also what allows us to truly love ourselves. So I invite you all to join me this month in a #SelfCareSelfies challenge. Follow me and TheDCLadies on Instagram and share your #TDCLSelfCareSelfies with us. Show all the parts of who you are that bring joy and beauty into the world. (the PG parts only please! *wink*)
After all, as Marianne Williams said, “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” So step into the light ladies… and then take a selfie to share with the world!