The Selfie

Posted on January 22, 2014 | 13 comments

The Dove company released a short film this week about women’s conception of beauty. (see Selfie here) Within the film they asked high school girls to consider the question What is beauty?

They asked these girls and their moms to take pictures of themselves and post them on social media. Many of the reactions were striking.

Log on to Instagram or Facebook (if you are not one of the multitudes fleeing FB) or another social media outlet. We are infatuated with pictures of our self. It is such a frequent occurrence that we have even dubbed taking your own picture a selfie.


Our identity is used to answer three core questions we have about how we relate to the world and what we are worth in it:

What do I do?

What do I have?

What do people think of me?

A selfie gives us feedback for our identity by answering these questions in a couple ways.

1. A selfie gives feedback.

People can like the selfie. Or make comments like “you are beautiful”, “so cute”, “I wish I had your smile”. This provides sustenance for the false self by answering the question What do people think of me? in a positive way. (see The Reflected Sense of Self)

Many of the girls in the Dove movie fretted about their selfie. What their hair looked like (that girl was beautiful!) or how people would judge their facial features.

They were afraid of a negative answer to the what do people think of me? question. Negative affirmation. Potential shame. Validating their fears of being unlovable.

2. A selfie lets others see what you do or have.

Some people flaunt their abs. Or their new yoga position. Or their butt.

A new outfit. Or being on the beach on a tropical island.

Selfies allow us to win the comparison game. And that can be a support for identity. (see What Comparison Does)

Whether it is body image comparisons. Women are particularly subject to body image comparisons. Stand back and take a fresh look at the messages advertising, TV and movies send regarding a woman’s worth and how she looks. (see It’s Tough to Be a Woman)

Or comparisons that say “what I’m doing is better than what you are doing” or “what I have (materially or physically) is better than what you have”.

If a woman’s identity is based on her level of fitness and body shape, then the selfie is going to provide feedback to support that.

If a woman’s identity is founded on being attractive to men, her selfie will convey that to other women.

Not to leave the men out, they do the same thing. Abs and cars and parties and beaches. No one posts a selfie doing laundry on a Saturday night. But when we are, we feel worse when we see how much fun and excitement and passion and beauty others are experiencing on their Saturday night.

Most selfies are about comparison. Building the false self. Receiving affirmation. Feeling loved and valuable.

And that is addictive.

Maybe the best thing I heard in the Dove video was the realization that the very things the girls were trying to hide, the things that were not like what they saw on TV, movies or the internet version of beauty and value, we actually the things that set them apart. (see Loving Your Self)

The differences made them beautiful.

That is an affirmation of God. In his creativity, God made us all unique. Beautiful not because we meet some arbitrary standard of the world, but because we are his creation.

Knit in our mother’s womb by the Creator. Living in that is an acknowledgment of the true self.

And a truly beautiful thing.

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  1. I’m a mom of teenage daughters and I have seen the change in my girls. From free spirited young ladies climbing trees and running through mud to girls talking about thigh gaps and weight loss. From crazy madams who pulled faces at the camera to freaking out at the sight of unedited unchecked photos.

    I have lost my girls to the expectations of society and it breaks my heart. How can I instil in them the love that God has for them when the world tells them different.

    My prayers are full of these wories and right now I am placing them in Gods hands and i pray they hear him call,

    • My prayers go out to you, being a parent is humbling. God bless.

  2. Selfies are all the rage now, aren’t they? I too see the Facebook posts and the need for validation. It is sad as little girls are now growing up with such a fascination with self. I’ve seen the Dove videos and love them. How important for women of all ages to realize that beauty isn’t just youth and what we see on TV, movies and magazines. It has been an awakening for me as I am now in my 60’s and find what I see in the mirror isn’t what I feel inside. Thank the Lord that He sees Jesus when He looks at me.

    Blessings and love,

    • Yes, many of my daughter’s friends are consumed with finding someone to consider them valuable and pretty. Very unfortunate, when there is something so much better. Thanks for your comments!

  3. I love the truths that some of the Dove videos bring out. But I like even better what you wrote at the end: different, unique, beautiful. One of the most difficult things for women of all ages, and I suspect most men, too, is to find one’s identity in Christ alone. It’s still a work in progress for me! Thanks for the lovely reminder and for sharing at Faith-filled Fridays. 🙂

  4. Hi! I found you through That Friday Blog Hop! I look forward to reading your future posts.

    • thanks for reading. I look forward to you coming back!

  5. This is so good. I was actually just talking to a friend about self-confidence and how the world lies to us. The world tells us that true beauty is being skinny, fit, a size 0. But real beauty-true beauty is from within. Very good post 🙂

    • True beauty lies in a life lived out of connection to God. There is an energy and confidence that it tangible.

  6. Great observations here. Our culture is becoming more obsessed with self all the time. And as you have rightly pointed out our motives are often to make us feel better about ourselves and sadly, often better than other people. My husband and I have a had a few conversations recently about the image that some people try to convey about themselves over Facebook and yet when you meet them face to face they are much more real and genuine – and guess which version I prefer!
    Thanks for such a thought-provoking post.
    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

    • Everyone wants to win the comparison game on social media. Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

  7. I may have cried while watching that video. As a mom of two daughters, I am keenly aware of how easy it is for me to pass my insecurities on to them. I love how this video focused on how the differences made them beautiful and I’m thankful for the awareness that those differences are God given.

  8. So true, and such a needed topic for us to consider. Thanks for linking up to last week’s Weekend Wind-Down party!

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