Selfie was crowned an official word in the English dictionary and what's wrong with a photograph of yourself? Selfportraits have been around for donkey's years. But they were taken or drawn on high days and holidays. Now there is a selfie taken every second. Girls' phones are as filled with selfies as are there social networks.
Their right-hand man is their photo camera. They go to bed with it, wake up with it and have it in their most private world and spaces. Snapchat, one of the most popular youth social networks, is based entirely on a 'snap' of yourself or what's around you. Tinder is also a dating network that is purely based on your appearance - and whether someone likes or dislikes it.
There are even rules for Selfies to make you look better - lean forward (better cleavage and also legs look thinner), take picture from above (no double chin), hand on hip (slims waist), bare arm (thinning). Kim Kardashian suggests good lighting and know your best angle. You can even photoshop your own selfie.
A friend's daughter takes tens of selfies a day mainly from her bathroom. She is a sweet sensitive little girl and it is so obvious that she is seeking something from the mirror, from the photo that she is lacking deep down. There has never been so much pressure to be perfectly beautiful and add in the selfie to the mix it is a recipe for low self-confidence. Teens are taking more and more selfies and in the most ridiculous of circumstances, including grandparent's funeral.
It is not the self-portrait that's the problem it's the intention behind it. When we are little we make funny faces in front of the camera and are uninhibited in every way. Hormones hit and we feel the crushing weight of spots, braces, bad hair and glasses, not to mention all the stuff that's going on inside. It is not surprising that they have to fake it to feel pretty enough. Models are impossibly beautiful and there is just to big a gap between their airbrushed world and the harsh reality of being a teen.
I have just published a trilogy all about self-esteem, The Ugly Little Girl about Libby a teen who doesn't like herself very much and discovers a magical school for self-esteem. At Oddbod's (the nightschool) she gets to see herself in the Truth Mirror which reveals how she perceives herself.
She is lucky as she gets to see how her opinion of herself is far removed from the reality. But girls today are made to feel ugly, not pretty enough and are therefore over-perfecting themselves.
There is no quick fix solution but there are some silver linings. We can immediately identify all those suffering from very low self-esteem from their published photos and walls. The issue is how do we help them. Parents, schools, youth groups all need to be part of this as do writers, influences, role models and celebrities. The real challenge though is to redefine the selfie, from a narcissistic expression of self-obsession expression to an outburst of truth, a happy snap.
To reverse the curve we need to evolve the selfie into something positive. The opposite is a carefree photo taken for fun, one without poses and artifice, like the ones of us frolicking around as children. This could be called the self-esteemie, a natural piccie, that authentic celebs like Fearne Cotton might easily adopt.
If you are a parent dig out the snaps of your teens as kids. Talk about how naturally beautiful they are. If you know of a heavy selfie-er talk to them as a godparent auntie or friend of the family, try and find out why they want to look so different. If you are a selfie-er yourself try taking a joke picture and even if you don't like it post it.
2013 was the year of the selfie and 2014 has to be the year of self-esteemies and it starts now.