Roundtable: On Selfie Culture



Roundtables are where we basically just sit and chat. Today I talk to Sophia about the ups and downs of selfie culture.

Serena: My first impressions of selfie culture was that it was arrogant and self-centered, when in fact that’s not what it’s about. It’s a revolution in how we depict ourselves in the public sphere. Rather than being fed a narrative by marketing and media, we are taking control and defining ourselves.

When beginning to post selfies, I think everyone follows a similar arc: first you only post conventionally pretty pictures, and work hard to make sure that they are pretty. And as you become more used to your face, you post selfies that might be seen as “ugly”, like when you first wake up or when you’re kind of sweaty after a run. In that way it does a great job of increasing self-acceptance.

Sophia: Of the problematic aspects of selfie culture I think the fact that you’re reducing yourself to essentially your looks is problematic, but I think selfie culture has less of an issue with that – because even if you are reducing yourself to your physical appearance, you’re not saying “I am typically pretty, I am a skinny white girl, I can do this this and this.”, you are being true to yourself and only you know how to rock that.

Serena: In some cases I feel like selfies actually humanize online interactions a lot more, because the majority of online interactions is text-based, it can be very easy to dehumanize that one comment and the person behind it. People posting selfies makes you go “oh wait, this blogger is actually a person!”.

Sophia: And I think that’s really important, particularly as more of our interactions move online. The ability to put a face to a person who you might not have even met, who is an Internet-friend who your parents think is a paedophile from Russia, but seeing their face makes them more of a friend than just an online friend.

One of the things I like about selfie culture is that girls will often do that after they try new makeup. I think that’s really important because a lot of people will say like, props for that. And I think that’s really important because putting things on your face to look good is really difficult. We’ve tried liquid eyeliner.

Serena: “Tried” is the functional word. Oh, my god. I’m still trying!

Sophia: And so, when people succeed, I think people deserve to be credited for that and I want to say hey, you’ve done well at putting things on your face. Congratuwelldone. I’m going to Like that because I think you’ve done quite well. And in that way you can be supportive of – I don’t want to say supportive of makeup, I’m supportive of people’s choice to wear makeup so rather than “I want to look more pretty”, more “I want to put this on my face”.

Serena: If people want to look more pretty they should go for it.

Sophia: I just don’t think they should be pressured into it.

Serena: But how could we not be pressured into it? Surrounded by The Real World and all.

Sophia: America was terrifying like that… everyone is gorgeous in LA, it’s so scary.

Serena: That’s because they’re all movie stars there.

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