Selfie Regret
September 8, 2018 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Do selfies convey self-absorption?

I posted a selfie on Facebook as a profile pic and now regret it. It makes me uncomfortable and I notice friends my age (40s) don't post selfies. I have a few friends who I admire and they never posted a selfie.

I think I was having this idea of, go ahead, put yourself out there, don't be afraid to post a pic. And then I posted the pic which was dumb.

I think I got desentitized by looking at Instagram. I follow some midlife fashion and hair people and there are a lot of selfies. My teenagers found my selfie photo and were half-kidding with me and said I was "insane" for posting a selfie. I said people post selfies all of the time and they said, "yeah, to make money". Now I feel like a middle-aged tool for posting a selfie. Since having Facebook for about a decade, I have posted roughly 5-6 selfies over the years, a few are my profile pic.

I am probably overthinking but I regret this selfie and want to take it down. The selfie is a pic where my hair is done and I have lipstick on --ugh.

I am aware of the absurdity of this question. However, I think a lot of people have this sort of anxiety surrounding social media and photos of themselves. Half of the time I want to delete Facebook because of the inanity of it all. I like to follow my friends and kids' school updates and I belong to a couple Facebook groups that I like. I do not have a thing where I get anxiety or jealous about other people's lives. I have anxiety over my face and the fact that I made a decision to post my face, and now I look like a person who is self-involved and fishing for compliments and it can't be undone.

What are your thoughts on selfies and should they ever be done?
posted by loveandhappiness to Human Relations (59 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Tell your kids to stay in their lane.

Excessive selfies are indeed a sign of self absorption to many people. But you’re not posting them every day or even every month.

You are 100% allowed to post a selfie as a profile pic that’s probably the most unassailable reason to ever post one. What’s the alternative, demanding someone else use your camera to take a picture of you so it’s not a selfie? That’s seems weird, you’re fine.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:54 AM on September 8, 2018 [97 favorites]

I think your selfie is totally fine. Like it would be one thing if your entire Facebook feed was tens of them in a row, but one as a profile pic? No one will think twice about it. Seriously, don't spend any more time worrying about it!
posted by KMoney at 7:56 AM on September 8, 2018 [13 favorites]

Comments mocking you are bullshit. Most people post selfies so their friends, who they don't see very often in person, can see them at least on line -- how they're looking, what they're doing. It's communication. Kids mocking you are just being jerky kids, and honestly kids being jerks to their parents need to be shut down a little.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:59 AM on September 8, 2018 [30 favorites]

Teenagers think that their parents' very existence on this earth is unspeakably lame. That doesn't make them right. Plenty of people I know post occasional "oh shit I'm feeling my look today" photos and the only responses are the "hell yeah girl" variety.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:00 AM on September 8, 2018 [112 favorites]

Selfies can also be an act of self love. We are taught that it is shameful somehow to love ourselves, especially our appearance. It's arrogant and cocky. But it's okay to be proud of what you look like--to put youself out there, to think that you are beautiful and to share that with the world.

I largely think that self-absorption as a concept is just another way to put strong women down, and selfies can be a small way of pushing back against that.
posted by Amy93 at 8:01 AM on September 8, 2018 [55 favorites]

Selfies are awesome. I love them. I love seeing them and I love taking them (not that I do it a lot). I like seeing people of all types and ages feeling confident in how they look and wanting to share that.

You're fine. Your selfie is fine.
posted by darksong at 8:01 AM on September 8, 2018 [16 favorites]

As someone living in a new place, I thrill when one of my friends from "back home" posts a selfie. I miss their beautiful faces. I'm middle aged, I would never think twice about posting a selfie (and yeah, sometimes I retake it a couple of times so that my smile lines are less extant). Basically, this is not your kids' or anyone else's business except yours, and you have permission to do what you like with your profile pics around the web.
posted by missmobtown at 8:02 AM on September 8, 2018 [13 favorites]

I'm in my 40s, and I post selfies, as do a lot of my friends who are my peers. I find them fun and playful and a good way of appreciating how I look as I age. ALSO, why should other people always get to be the ones to decide how I look in photos? Screw that.

I friggin' LOVE selfies, and I say rock on with your bad self(ies).
posted by spindrifter at 8:06 AM on September 8, 2018 [16 favorites]

Don't trust the opinions of teenagers. They're at an age when they're looking for social meaning in everything - even in completely innocuous things. Add to that their need to assert a social identity apart from their parents, and you get teenagers who feel negatively about every little thing that their parents do. (My parents are SO embarrassing!!!)

Using a selfie as your profile pic doesn't say anything about you as a person.

No one is going to judge you for this selfie. No one is going to judge you for posting 5-6 selfies over a time period of TEN YEARS.

Frankly, your teenagers are being ridiculous.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:07 AM on September 8, 2018 [27 favorites]

It's pretty self-absorbed for your kids to call you "insane" for posting a photo of yourself. I mean, they are teenagers, a developmental stage not particularly well-known for empathy, and they are probably trying to come to terms with the concept of their parent as an actual person, but still.
posted by basalganglia at 8:07 AM on September 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

Your kids are being ridiculous and are not the expert of how to use social media. I'm in my 40s and practically everyone I know posts selfies of themselves. With friends, with kids, alone, on vacation, out to dinner, celebrating something. That's why it's called FACE BOOK. Sheesh.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:09 AM on September 8, 2018 [15 favorites]

I'm a skoosh younger than you are, but definitely above Instagram-tastemaker age, and frankly I'd tell anyone who judges you to jog on. I post selfies, and you know why? Because I look FABULOUS. Or I'm covered in sweat cos I just got done a bike ride. Or I'm just generally feeling myself.

I'm okay with that level of vanity. I've done violence to my body and hated myself so much in the past, it's time to balance it with a little love. My selfies get a bagillion likes and stuff, because my friends love me and like seeing me, and vice-versa. I love seeing selfies, because they're an act of self-care and having fun, and I love the joy they show, or someone's new make-up, or the bad day they're having so I can send them love, whatever.

It's okay. You're okay. I promise. Selfies are fine.
posted by kalimac at 8:11 AM on September 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

It’s fine. Bona fides: Am 40, occasionally post a selfie, am extremely cool.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:11 AM on September 8, 2018 [31 favorites]

Selfies saved my life. That may sound stupid. But I’m 28 (lady) and chronically ill and disabled and mostly homebound. When I started using Instagram more I found my community - other ill (often young but not always) people and women. And I love fashion and photography. So selfies (or self porortaits really) give me something to do AND a way to connect with people socially. They honestly gave me a purpose.

I think if you’re ignoring people around you or dangerous situations to take a selfie then that’s not okay. But selfies are 100% normal. I know many people that are in older generations that take them including MANY people I connect with on Instagram. My dad (mid 50s) is a photographer and he still does selfies just with his phone camera. I give him a hard time about it - because our love language is sarcasm and he usually is showing off a new pair of glasses from his excessive collection. But we both like to joke and make each other laugh.

Your kids are probably just being teenagers who are picking on their parent doing something new.

Do what you feel is right. Selfies are not inherently wrong.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:13 AM on September 8, 2018 [18 favorites]

It occurs to me that most 40 yr olds on Facebook have been there longer and know more about its norms than most teenagers. Also applies to the Internet as a whole.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:19 AM on September 8, 2018 [16 favorites]

Do all selfies convey self-absorption? No.
Can selfies convey self-absorption? Yes.
I tend to judge this on a case by case basis, and my main measuring tool is intent.
What was your intent with this?
Were you being "thirsty" as my teenage daughter would call it?
Be gentle with yourself, be kind with yourself, and let your natural beauty and radiance shine through, and take a picture of that.
Post it.
Be the light you'd like to see online.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:21 AM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Your kids are saying that because Mom is doing something similar to one of their own activities, just like you or I would have thought it was awful and embarrassing when we were teenagers if our moms wanted to go to POPULARMUSICCONCERT or get really good at CURRENTVIDEOGAME. This is normal and fine.

This is just your anxiety about your face grabbing onto whatever it can to fuck with you. If the best it can do is the opinions of teenagers, who until recently desperately wanted to be fire trucks and probably still harbor a secret dream of becoming a marine biologist who lives on a pony farm with whoever was recently on the cover of Nonthreatening Boys Monthly, then you and your selfies are on pretty solid ground.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:28 AM on September 8, 2018 [26 favorites]

I'm in my 40s. I post selfies, my friends post selfies. I'm in a FB group of intersectional feminists, most of whom are in their 20s, and there's a weekly selfie thread. I love seeing my friends' faces. As everyone else has said, you're fine, and your kids are being judgmental teenagers. Ignore them.
posted by lazuli at 8:35 AM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

I don't think selfies are self-absorbed - it's a matter of social convention.

Anecdotally, I'm in my 20s and have two groups of friends (same age range), and to bucket them broadly:
Very Online
-Mostly on Twitter
-Post selfies, often in the context of self-care or reclaiming beauty standards
IRL people
-Mostly on IG
-Don't post selfies except group selfies or briefly as part of a Snap/IG Story. Instead, they marshall their friends/boyfriends (always boyfriends) to take photos of them in visually-appealing settings

I don't know what teenagers are like now, but if your teens' social circle is more like Bucket 2, that might be where they're coming from.

Neither is better than the other; it's just different sets of norms.

I wouldn't sweat it if you find you're out of the norm for your FB friends, though. Just tell your teenagers they should take a new profile pic for you :)
posted by airmail at 8:36 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am also a person in my 40s and honestly I am kind of confused by the question. You keep saying "Selfie" as a bad thing, but isn't "Selfie" just short for a photo you took of yourself (generally with your phone)?
Like.. is there a stigma associated with being the one to hold the camera, or am I missing an entire context to the terminology?
Serious question.
posted by jozxyqk at 8:36 AM on September 8, 2018 [6 favorites]

Also I would like to mention that i feel very sad that you’re feeling ashamed of having your hair done and some makeup on. There ain’t nothing wrong with feeling badass and getting done up. Many of my photos revolve around makeup I do. There’s a gigantic community of makeup lovers out there. Self confidence is a GOOD thing.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:37 AM on September 8, 2018 [33 favorites]

Counterpoint: If Facebook is giving you anxiety and making you second-guess things you've done online over the last decade, maybe it's not for you? Or maybe there's a way to limit consumption such that you don't feel the obligation to conform to various unwritten norms. Sounds like there's some positive benefit for you, so maybe stick with that stuff.

Or just take down the selfies and move on, since Facebook doesn't really tell anyone you removed them, and The Algorithm decides who sees them and when, and no one really cares that much anyway? I delete stuff all the time on social media, just because I want to. Doesn't mean you have to give up selfies or Facebook for all time. But yeah, if you're a person that likes to edit yourself and your history, these things suck up mental energy that are better spent thinking of witty retorts for teenagers.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:39 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also I would like to mention that i feel very sad that you’re feeling ashamed of having your hair done and some makeup on. There ain’t nothing wrong with feeling badass and getting done up. Many of my photos revolve around makeup I do. There’s a gigantic community of makeup lovers out there. Self confidence is a GOOD thing.

Oh lord, yes, hard co-sign! Hair and makeup are artistry -- whether you did them yourself or paid someone (using your grown-up hard-earned coin) to do them for you. You have made something beautiful -- show it off! Be happy with your face, and your skills, and being only the latest in a looooong line of self-portraitists.

This message brought to you buy the shiny lavender highlighter that will probably be appearing on my IG feed later today because it turns me into a sparkly gay unicorn that must be shared with the world. Yes, I said must.
posted by kalimac at 8:44 AM on September 8, 2018 [18 favorites]

Everyone wants a profile pic that looks good. There are no exceptions to that rule. Please ask yourself why it's not embarrassing to post a flattering photos someone else took of you but is embarrassing to post a flattering photo you took of you.

There is no functional difference. Neither is embarrassing. (Your teenagers think you breathing is mortifying, so that counts for nothing.)

Credentials: was a social media manager.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:53 AM on September 8, 2018 [11 favorites]

I love when my friends of all ages, genders, ethnicities, etc post selfies. I love it in the same way I love looking around at the folks on my bus in the morning. I get to live in a beautiful world full of beautiful, interesting faces, and it makes me feel like all the bullshit problems in the world are a little less important.

Please share your selfies.
posted by phunniemee at 9:17 AM on September 8, 2018 [13 favorites]

You’re the parent - tell them they’re grounded for not liking your selfie!
posted by oceanjesse at 9:26 AM on September 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

Thank you very much AskMe for comments. Appreciate it and I’m (mostly) fine with my selfie and am going to let go thinking about it.

But yeah, if you're a person that likes to edit yourself and your history, these things suck up mental energy that are better spent thinking of witty retorts for teenagers.

True. I have deleted pics and history from Facebook. I take breaks from FB, because I’m distracted with other stuff and it’s on the back burner. I do almost always second-guess my Facebook contributions, so it probably isn’t for me.

This might sound goofy and new-agey:

I accept how I look. I do try to beautify myself sometimes. I don’t mind pictures of myself. I am who I am. I’m conflicted because isn’t it ultimately the ego that takes a selfie? I liked how I physically looked in this photo and posted it, which is ego-driven. I don’t want to have an opinion about myself. I don’t want to love or hate myself. I just want to be. I want to love other people and not care one way or another about myself. When I post a selfie it defies that. I think that’s why I get myself in knots over selfies or any kind of self-promotion.

Thank you again for comments and advice. All very helpful and clarify that I need to chill.
posted by loveandhappiness at 9:44 AM on September 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

Go check out Ijeoma Oluo's Twitter. She posts selfies a couple times a week when she's really feeling her look. It does not detract at all from her important work for racial justice.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:45 AM on September 8, 2018 [10 favorites]

Your selfie is just fine! Your kids are just being teenagers.

I believe the standard parenting offensive maneuver here is to cheerfully demand that your kids take selfies with you at every available opportunity for the next week or so, and post them with something deliberately ludicrous like “everyone reblog this and make us the trending tweet on instagram! #selfie” in the text.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:46 AM on September 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

I'm 35 and post selfies at least a few times a week. A number of my facebook friends aren't local and selfies are one of the ways we get a little glimpse of what we are all up to. Your kids are being rude! You're allowed to do fun things that are just for yourself and shouldn't be made to feel guilt about it!
posted by augustimagination at 10:07 AM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

I never post or take selfies but I like seeing them, actually.

Your selfie as an adult non-instagram-tastemaker actually serves a norming function - it's important to show images of people who are not professional beauties who have been heavily styled and whose appearance is focus-grouped to generate maximum dollars. Your teens, god love them, are completely wrong - sure, people post selfies to make money, but it's precisely because appearance is constantly commodified that it's important to have other images available.

If you want to tell your kids anything, tell them from a mefite who has been a teenager that the surest way to attract embarrassing attention is not existing in the world with parents, it's existing in the world with parents while you act pouty and sigh and say complainy stuff about them. That attracts attention; everyone just ignores the rest.
posted by Frowner at 10:09 AM on September 8, 2018 [10 favorites]

I feel like there's some definition of "selfie" beyond "photo I took of myself" that I'm missing here, because what else are you supposed to post as a Facebook profile photo?
posted by parm at 10:14 AM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

the only people i ever see accusations of self-absorption directed towards wrt selfies are women, women of all ages and sizes and races. this leads to the pretty obvious conclusion that the problem is not the women taking the selfies, it's the misogyny of the people viewing them. honestly just tell your kids to fuck off.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:18 AM on September 8, 2018 [30 favorites]

It isn’t really my place to speak for your kids, but this is the kind of encounter that, if I had it with my own mother when I was consumed with toxic teenage embarrassment, would have made me weep with shame looking back on it as an adult; I’m actually tearing up typing this. There is a place in my heart for the few glamorous pictures I have of my mother and grandmother I have now that they’re gone that is so important it’s hard to explain. There is a phase teenagers go through when anything that reminds them that the women who raised them are their own people with existences beyond their children feels terrifying and mortifying. It is just a phase. Please don’t delete these photos. Your children will think they are beyond price when they’re grown.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 10:21 AM on September 8, 2018 [20 favorites]

I like it when I can see my friends' faces in their profile photos - lots of people seem to post their kids or pics with no humans in them - and there's nothing wrong with that, but it's nice to see who you are interacting with.

My profile pic is a selfie because 1) I want my profile pic to show people who they are interacting with and 2) otherwise I have to ask someone else to take a pic for me.

Digression: Selfies *can* be about needing attention, but as illustrated in The Good Place so can devoting your life to raising money for charity. Which is to say - almost anything humans do can be done in a way that's attention-seeking. And honestly that's not necessarily such a bad thing because we have a legitimate need as humans to be seen and receive attention.
posted by bunderful at 10:23 AM on September 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

I’m conflicted because isn’t it ultimately the ego that takes a selfie?

Yes. So what? You are a person, and you have anego, and it is not wrong to show it in ways like this. You’re allowed to like how you look and show that like to people. Seconding the suggestion to check out Ijeoma’s amazing fb where you can see her demonstrate that posting selfies does not in the least make her a person who is not serious about her work.
posted by rtha at 10:28 AM on September 8, 2018 [22 favorites]

I liked how I physically looked in this photo and posted it, which is ego-driven. I don’t want to have an opinion about myself. I don’t want to love or hate myself. I just want to be.

This is a really interesting journey to be on, and thank you for adding it to the conversation. Two responses popped into my mind:

- I'm guessing you identify (or at least present) as female, and the greater world around you doesn't want to just let you be. It wants to tear you down. This photo is a way to be -- to exist, and announce your existence. I accept I might well be on the wrong track with this, for you or in general, for which I apologize in advance, but sometimes just doing something that makes you smile a little is an act of radical existence.

- It's okay. You can do both. I think this question really struck me, because of how sad and anxious you sound. Be kind to yourself -- whether that means deleting the image or not -- but do it to answer your own heart, not what others may think of you.
posted by kalimac at 10:30 AM on September 8, 2018 [11 favorites]

As a woman in my mid-40s, I want to see more selfies from my peers. People our age have lived online for 20+ years. It's our place too. Ignore your kids because what they said was mean.
posted by kimberussell at 10:31 AM on September 8, 2018 [28 favorites]

Agreeing with all, especially kimberussell. I'd much rather see your pretty face than photos of your kids. YOU'RE my friend; you're the one I want to see a photo of. So yes, please keep posting photos of yourself occasionally. Every day? No. Interspersed among other posts? Yes!

And while I'm on this rant, when you send me your photo Christmas cards, please be sure you're in the photo too. I really don't want a photo of just your kids. I want to see what you look like too!
posted by hydra77 at 10:39 AM on September 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

I don’t want to have an opinion about myself. I don’t want to love or hate myself.

How come? Our opinions of ourselves help us be better people -- if we dislike an action we took, it's an opportunity to re-examine if we're living up to our inner values. Even if you're speaking solely about having opinions about your appearance, I think it's a revolutionary act for women to accept and love ourselves just as we are, whether that's glammed up or in pajamas and unbrushed hair.
posted by lazuli at 10:42 AM on September 8, 2018 [13 favorites]

To add another thought I just had while mulling over this - I lost my mom last summer and she was someone who was very hesitant to have her picture taken, and I do not have many pictures of her, especially more recent ones. I would give so many things to have selfies of her to look back at, to see how she saw herself and not just how the rest of us viewed her.
posted by augustimagination at 10:47 AM on September 8, 2018 [16 favorites]

Rachel Syme on selfies: "Here’s the secret: Nothing destabilizes power more than an individual that knows his or her own worth, and the campaign against selfies is ultimately a crusade against widespread self-esteem."

Leah Reich on selfies and self-portraiture: "After thousands of photographs of myself, I realized a crucial lesson: Image can be manipulated so easily. Anyone’s can. I am attractive and I am unattractive. A photograph, a bad one, does not make me ugly, nor does a good one make me pretty. My self-worth is separate from the image I present to the world."
posted by holgate at 10:54 AM on September 8, 2018 [21 favorites]

I don't buy the hype about selfies being some exercise in subversive empowerment, but taking one selfie as a profile picture on Facebook is 100% ordinary and not worth obsessing over. Also, my 60-something dad takes selfies and nobody cares.
posted by noxperpetua at 11:00 AM on September 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

(I am basing the gender assumptions in my comment on your self-identification in previous questions.)
I don’t want to have an opinion about myself. I don’t want to love or hate myself. I just want to be. I want to love other people and not care one way or another about myself. When I post a selfie it defies that.
Self-abnegation is not healthy. You and I live in a society that wants middle aged/older women (whether mothers or not) to be quiet and not take up space. To not think highly of ourselves and recognize our worth as human beings. To not be seen and not be heard, unless it is to admire those who are younger or more male--to "love other people and not care about [ourselves]."

Caring about yourself does not cancel out any caring you do about others. The healthiest people in relationships--with kids, partners, parents, friends--love and care about themselves as well as others.

Since (from your description) you're not doing it out of narcissism, your act of posting a selfie as a profile picture is not arrogant or vain or any of the negative words society and your kids want to ascribe to it. You liked how you looked and you shared that. That's it. If anything, it's healthy--you are modelling healthy self-appreciation for your kids. This is especially important as a middle aged woman. You're teaching them that it's okay for middle aged/older women to be seen, to be heard, and to value themselves--not just value their looks, but their own presence.

Signed, another woman in her 40s--who has a favourite selfie as a profile picture.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:17 AM on September 8, 2018 [21 favorites]

Thank you all again. This has been very interesting for me to read and I appreciate the comments.

I identify as female, straight. I'm married with kids. I do understand the societal and cultural pressures that women face. I'm currently growing out my natural (graying) hair and this can make a woman feel more "invisible" in society. I am at the point where I don't care. I exist even if parts of society don't see me.

I know I have value, as all humans do. I have spent many of hour having an opinion that I am this or that --a poor mother, a victim, unattractive, unintelligent, lazy, good, bad, whatever. Those are concepts about myself that aren't important and not who I am. When I lose those opinions I don't inflict that conceptualized self onto others. I just want to be-- no opinions about myself.

I do reflect on my behavior. I don't however think it's necessary to love myself. Or hate myself. Just like an animal doesn't need to love themselves. They just are.

I find that posting a self-portrait of myself, is an effort to be seen, when I know I exist. That's what makes me feel uneasy. I'm probably internalizing that selfies are often said to be attention seeking. I can allow the selfie to be what it is -- a photo of myself that I put on social media. No expectations and it's okay that I liked my appearance that day, even if it's not important.

Also, on the day my teenagers said I was insane, I told them I didn't need their approval and it was none of their business what I post. And don't be a meany, it's not a good look. ;-)
posted by loveandhappiness at 12:18 PM on September 8, 2018 [9 favorites]

When I lose those opinions I don't inflict that conceptualized self onto others. I just want to be-- no opinions about myself.

Why is having or presenting and opinion about yourself such a negative to you?
posted by rtha at 12:38 PM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don’t mind presenting opinions when it comes to practical matters. i.e. We should take this route.

I do mind having self-conceptualized ideas about who I am.

These are spiritual ideas and not my own:

If you operate from the ego and have opinions of who and what you are, comparison arises. If a person identifies as smart and capable, their ego might say another is dumb and incapable. Not always and not everyone has strong egos but comparison happens when you have opinions of yourself. When you have more awareness opinions of yourself fall away.
posted by loveandhappiness at 1:40 PM on September 8, 2018

So I get what you’re saying. For example a counter to the “body love” or “body acceptance” movements is called “body neutrality.” It means that we don’t HAVE to love our bodies but we can try to come to terms with it. It’s especialky taken off among disabled people like myself who find it very hard to love a body that causes pain and illness. It’s also taken off among people who don’t like the pressure of “self love” or struggle with body image.

That said - a selfie or photo does not need to change your body/image neutrality. You exist. This is how you look when you exist. It is not ego. It is simply representation in a online space the way you represent in a physical space (your face and or body.)

So I don’t think trying to be neutral and a selfie are at odds in that way.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:40 PM on September 8, 2018 [6 favorites]

So my kid used to call me old all the time. Which I was (and am), compared to the ages of a lot of her friends' parents. Then I just started telling her, "Yup. Better old than dead." Eventually she stopped. :-) Your response to your kids sounds perfect. You sound great. Glad you posted a selfie you liked. Go you!
posted by Bella Donna at 2:23 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

You do you.

As long as there isn't any reversed text in your selfie.

I kid. But seriously, is there reversed text in your selfie?

posted by emelenjr at 2:28 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a 40-something Facebook friend whose photos are about 75% selfies. I've never thought anything of it, except that he's really good at getting his entire face and an interesting background in the frame.
posted by mersen at 5:09 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Datapoint: I am 36 and one of the most self-absorbed people I know, and I almost never take selfies. If there’s any correlation, you’ll never prove it by me.
posted by armeowda at 5:40 PM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

To offer a somwhat gloomy counterpoint to the ‘I hate how I look in pictures’ idea—I was married to someone like this. He passed away very unexpectedly when our son was four months old. As a result of his camera shyness, I have less than a dozen pictures to someday show my son of him and his father together. So yeah, I take the odd selfie, because I want my son to know that I was there. It doesn’t matter if my hair is perfect. His mama loves him and she was there!
posted by ficbot at 7:15 PM on September 8, 2018 [16 favorites]

I worked on a project about what teens think about selfies, so yep, disclosure this is a self(ie) link to my designs / my academic friend's work. The girls had some great thoughts around social media, including selfies and in short "Some selfies are fine. Some people are mean. Don't post nudee rudee pics, even if someone asks you."

I am 51 and recently posted a selfie on FB of clippering my head a la Britney, because why not? (This hairstyle really suits me, and makes me feel fierce).
posted by b33j at 7:48 PM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

I love selfies!! And I also love this thread, because it's full of such positivity and love.

I hear you on that regret: as much as I like selfies by others, I had so much hesitation when it came to posting my own. (It's all about practice and finding angles you like, as you know!) So a few years ago, I made that my annual birthday goal and let my my followers know on Instagram. People were supportive and my confidence grew with time and it's awesome! Even though I've always known that I'm pretty in a way that meets conventional beauty standards -- and that it's a privilege -- I have dealt with self-loathing due to past trauma and got to the point of feeling neutral about my appearance. But that's not enough! I've found that it's better to have days of feeling myself and loving my look along with days of feeling poopy -- when I don't take selfies, of course -- than telling myself "neutral" was OK as it was just a cover for true deeper feelings to work through.

I have a lot of various thoughts: first, I think my mom is beautiful -- I always have -- like literally the most beautiful woman in the world. (Sorry, ladies of the future whom I may date!) A lot of people see their moms this way, which is cool, even if we also have awkward teenage stages when we're super embarrassed by our parents. My mom has dealt with low self-esteem her entire life from a shitty upbringing, so she deflects compliments and has almost NO photos of herself EVER!! I wish she did because I'd like to look at them, especially as I get older: I don't look like her at ALL but, as I get older, I'm starting to look like her a bit and I'm so happy! But I don't really know because she never took selfies -- or even let others take photos of her, and that's probably not going to happen now that she's in her mid-70s.

A few days ago I did a fun poll on Instagram where I posted a silly selfie of myself eating ice cream -- hey, I was totally feeling my eyebrows and Heidi braid -- and asked: "Should I keep posting more awkward selfies?" There were 63 votes for "Yes, I love awkward!!" and 2 votes for "No, please stop!" with many more who viewed but didn't vote. I appreciate the honesty of those who voted "no": both are amazing young women who are beautiful and smart and talented but are struggling with their self-esteem. They almost never post selfies but I wish they did! And, more importantly, I wish they felt as good as they look and as cool as they are.

We set important examples for younger people. When you post a selfie, you're doing it not only for your teens but all teens and your peers and your elders, showing women can be beautiful -- and most importantly, confident! -- at any age. I am in my mid-30s but most love seeing women who are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and up feeling good and posting about it. I think, "Wow, they look great! Maybe I can look that great one day, too, because we can be beautiful at any age, regardless of/because of wrinkles and the like!" As a teacher, I try really hard to edit my self-criticism around teens and, say, not even drink diet sodas or the like around them. For example, I wish I weighed less but loved ones always gently remind me that I look sexy as is, ha. In any case, the other day, a girl who is bigger than I am, complained about herself as looking like a "whale" on two different occasions that afternoon. I was positive back but I wanted to cry: it's so hard being a teen, especially a teen girl, and what young person doesn't feel pretty crappy about their appearance the majority of the time?! It's OK, even important, to talk about these struggles but it should be framed as a societal issue we struggle with on a personal level rather than a barrage of self-critiques.

So, YES, selfies are about self-love and encouraging others to do the same. Our social media feeds should be full of diversity of all sorts and the faces of our friends and family, not just celebrities who have been forced to maintain an unrealistic beauty standard to stay current and, even then, still airbrushed to death (whether they want it or not because that's the industry!) Post one a year or one a week and feel free to talk about that awkwardness! Thank you for starting this conversation here, and good luck with everything.
posted by smorgasbord at 9:58 PM on September 8, 2018 [8 favorites]

I'm a pretty old fashioned user of the Internet. So the "as a profile pic" part makes it seem completely banal. One sets a profile picture so that people can recognize you in searches, lists, etc. Facebook happens to put the photo on your timeline when that happens. So when I've changed it, I think I put some sort of caption to make the post that will happen anyway a little more interesting. Changing your profile pic to fit your mood or because you changed your look, or really any reason at all seems entirely unremarkable.

I realize I'm somewhat missing the point about all of the other social signals related to selfie posts on Facebook. But when I read a post that starts with loveandhappiness changed their Profile Picture I just think "oh, I guess they were tired of the old one and thought this photo looked good". That's the extent of it.
posted by serathen at 1:48 PM on September 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Posting about your life is the whole damn point of Facebook. That includes selfies.

Be in your world and don't let anybody tell you not to be. There is nothing cool about being cool.

I've posted probably 100 selfies of my cat cuddling me on Facebook this year alone.
I've posted 100+ running updates.
I've posted dozens of pictures of restaurant food too.

I'm certain these things bother some people. I'm certain some people find it uncool.

I don't care. It is not for them. It is for me and my family and friends who do like them.

Take up all the space you need in the world.
posted by srboisvert at 8:45 AM on September 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm in my mid-40s. My FB profile photos are mostly selfies. I try to make sure I update my profile photo every few months or so, to keep it current. Sometimes my selfies include my dog or my bike or someone else. All of this is just fine, and it's what my friends do.

I'm actually sad when my friends have FB profile photos that aren't them, that are instead their kids or their pet or a landscape. I want to see my friends' lovely faces! And they have lovely faces because they are my friends!

Our loved ones want to see us. We make them happy when we show them ourselves at our best. Okay, if you were posting one or two a day and saying, "How do I look?" it might get a bit strange. But a selfie as an FB photo is not about ego. It is about sharing yourself with friends and family who love you.

Teenagers are often mean and often wrong. Don't listen to them.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:49 PM on September 10, 2018

I’m conflicted because isn’t it ultimately the ego that takes a selfie? I liked how I physically looked in this photo and posted it, which is ego-driven.

I'm not sure why taking your own picture would be different in that regard than asking someone else to take your picture and posting it.

But so what if it's ego driven? Humans have egos. Balance. Most people pick photos to post because they like how they look. It seems like you aren't comfortable sharing that trait with the majority of people for some reason -- you seem to want to feel special by feeling you can get away from ego, but this isn't so, you actually have ego like most people do.
posted by yohko at 11:04 PM on September 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

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