Welcoming Selfies that Celebrate the Real You

Body positivity has landed on social media!

Jan 23, 2020

(HBRH / Shutterstock.com)

The outlook for selfies is finally looking up, as love for a more natural look is enjoying a moment. Even social media giants are cutting down on the photo filters that can play into people’s insecurities. Body positivity has arrived on social media!

People now want to keep it real, and feel empowered to celebrate the characteristics, physical ones too, that make them who they are. Popular support for expressions of body positivity is also driving a renewed sense of confidence in self-love.

Social media trailblazers
Thumbs up to Instagram’s recent ban on filters that mimic the effects of plastic surgery. By doing this, Instagram is speaking out against filters offering tweaks that aren’t achievable with makeup. Selfie filters like these have even been blamed for pushing some people with low self-esteem to seek out surgery just to look more like their filtered social media photos.

This policy shift is part of the social network’s wellbeing efforts that want using photo effects to be a positive experience. The healthier, underlying idea is that our unique look should be celebrated, not tweaked into a shallow, plastic "ideal". Filters should not dictate your idea of beauty. Don’t worry- floating hearts and cat ears are still fine!

Selfies and “body dysmorphia”
The dangers of excessive selfie-taking, especially among members of Gen Z who are already extra image-conscious by nature, have been well documented. The concern is that the trend seeing "always on" smartphone users snapping and editing photos of themselves on repeat, is raising anxiety about looks. This is sending people on an impossible mission for "perfection".

Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder that sees a person become preoccupied with an imagined physical defect, or a minor flaw that others often can’t see.
Plastic surgeons such as US facial cosmetic surgeon, Daria Hamrah, are worried that social media platforms make people over-focus on their supposed shortcomings.

The rise and rise of ‘the real’
The growing interest in authentic selfies is all part of a rediscovery of the values of uniqueness and self-acceptance. Just look at the interest in makeup-free selfies. It’s refreshing to see glamorous celebs like Gal Gadot, Demi Lovato, Gigi Hadid, and Gabrielle Union, proudly sharing their natural looks on social media. In posting these "au natural" shots, they are showing their fans that they are actually just like them. It’s good news when hashtags like #nofilter and #noretouching are trending too.

Even photo editing apps are taking note. In China, the ubiquity of the “wanghong” (internet celebrity face), the outcome of over-enthusiastic photo editing, inspired the BeautyPlus app to introduce a “personality” filter. This filter aimed to counteract the flat ‘sameness’ that the overuse of editing effects creates.

Light photo editing can be empowering
Of course, for many, the ability to enhance online photos with simple tools that add a smile to their face or a glow to their skin in winter, remains a fun and easy way to escape routine. Let’s not overlook the confidence-boosting power that a little zit control or teeth whitening can bring. Portrait editing also remains a satisfying route to some enjoyable age play. Mom bloggers and silver swans enjoy the chance to turn the clock back a little online.

These snap-happy folks feel they are taking control of their narratives by playing with their online look. This is what millennial Alicia Eler says in her book The Selfie Generation.

Eler believes that selfies are just one facet of how we use digital media to build a personal brand. For edited selfie fans, this is all about being seen the way you want others to see you. Just go easy on the filters!

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DAPHNE KASRIEL ALEXANDER, EDITOR IN CHIEF
Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.