The media is full of criticism and for some part, celebration of the female. Her achievements, however, seem quite menial in light of the bashing they receive. It seems that journalists and social media alike know excatly how to put a woman down: from the 'before' and 'after' shots, the pressure given on having a pre-pregnancy body a week after giving birth, and the false pretence of what a 'beautiful' woman should look like.
Enter Love Your Selfie: a campaign that came out of a longstanding frustration of seeing women, as individuals, being constantly told how to look and feel. The curator, is a man by the name of Paul Salvatori. Even as a man, he never failed to recognize this pressure, especially from mass media, as wrong. The harassment women receive directly and indirectly is astonishing; a woman has every right to decide for herself how she wishes to portray her identity. A right. The objectification of women is nothing new however: it has a long withstanding history. Women have always been seen as a side kick, or second class citizens. Women are labelled as possessing features of masculinity when they succeed in business for example. Why can't she simply recognised on the basis of her success, rather than being paralleled to a man?
The campaign, Salvatori says, is a response to the general cynicism of selfies (where an individual takes a photo of themselves) as "narcisstic", in turn voyeurs wishing to shame the individual taking the photo. Love Your Selfie is a counter response to this: encouraging young women to be proud of their selfies and appreciate their beauty that is captured in each one.
Female empowerment is something that is slowly coming to the forefront, and it is refreshing to see men and women alike on board with it. Women all over the world are challenged by a number of obstacles that restrict their ability to play significant roles in their communities and the broader society. For a long time they have lagged far behind men in key socio-economic indicators that place them at a huge disadvantage. Empowered women and girls have a truly transformative role to play in their communities. Rarely, however are they given the opportunity. This is of course not just a case of women working on their own: a collaborative effort of men and women will allow for enormous potential to be fulfilled.
"I think it is time for everyone, men and women alike, to start doing something about the unfair pressure that women are constantly made to feel about how to look and feel. Every woman is beautiful and when her own perception of that beauty is overshadowed because of what the culture dictates is beautiful then we are faced with not just a "women's issue"; we are dealing with a serious human problem--a major segment of the human family is made to feel they must first measure up to artificial standards of beauty before they can actually feel good about themselves."
Media outlets, especially women's magazines, often shy away from offering women alternative choices. The celebration of women sometimes falls short of trying to balance the aesthetic with the intelligence.
Salvatori believes that the campaign is not just necessary for a western audience, but also a global audience. He states that "I definitely think it is a global issue, though the ideals at the core of that problem and that are being promoted as unrealistic measures of beauty are western." They are, in his opinion, a result of narrow, Eurocentric understandings of beauty which are manifested in popular advertisements featuring slim, young, Caucasian women. Though these women of course are also beautiful, the problem is that women, worldwide, are being told that they are the only kind of woman that is beautiful. There are countless version of beauty though and we should be celebrating them all.
The campaign aims to let women everywhere know they are beautiful. They do not have to strain themselves to be beautiful and are beautiful because of all the wonderful qualities, including their strengths and potential, that make them who they are. Beauty is part of every woman's essence. It never expires and it is much more than skin deep. In collaboration with philanthropic organizations, they aim also to help underprivileged women. Currently, they are donating one dollar of every t-shirt sale to Plan Because I Am A Girl to provide young women in need with food, healthcare, personal security, and whatever else that will help alleviate the burden of poverty and political oppression. The weight of this burden unfairly prevents someone from fully embracing their beauty and so utilizing their personal strength to be what they want.
Love Your Selfie have designed t-shirts which are available on their website at: http://www.loveyourselfie.com