Being in the fitness industry I understand people being proud of their transformations from fat to fit, and wanting to document their body’s changes. I also accept that our society is geared towards admiring (and lusting after) bodies of hot young women. So self-posed body photos on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook shouldn’t be a big deal to me. However, lately the current trend of “selfies” has risen to a level that I find annoying, irritating, and destructive to the overall self-esteem (or lack thereof) of girls and women. I want to ask these self-photographers what are you selling? Usually shot in their bedrooms, bathrooms, or the gym, these shots are cloyingly posed and suggest that the poser is desperately seeking adoration.
For those of you not familiar with the term selfie (noting that it was not in the dictionary five years ago), a selfie is a photograph you have taken of yourself with a cell phone (usually in a mirror to get a full body shot). The internet is littered with them. Pose after pose of scantily clad women displaying their tight young abs, butts, thighs, and almost always with pouty lips and a swayed back for extra sexy emphasis. (I am, of course, not referring to selfies taken with friends where you hold the camera with one arm while everyone crowds around. Those are fun and harmless.)
I am in the business of helping people have healthier bodies and lives, and I always try to keep my approach and advice positive, motivational, and sensible. So every day when I post my ideally helpful pictures and words of wisdom on my social network sites, I am saddened to see so many vapid selfies. I really think these girls do not really get what it is they’re saying to the world, or more importantly, how they seem to be selling themselves (selling themselves short for sure).
At the gym locker room the other day, I caught a stereo typically breast-enhanced, muscle-bound, swollen-lipped woman snapping a selfie in the mirror posing in the exact way describe above. Later I saw her kneeling over the flat bench, angling her phone awkwardly to catch a shot of her butt. I know I live in Las Vegas so I should expect this, but I’ve reached my tolerance limit. (The photo below is NOT her.)
Then last weekend I was at Mandalay Bay Hotel and saw girl after girl parading around dressed so provocatively that they could barely walk. Dresses were cut to the crotch and their heels were 6″ spikes or higher. I saw them lining up individually and posing for solo-selfies, one hand on hip, lips pursed. Then they gathered in a clutch, uploaded their pics to the internet, and told each other how great they looked.
Now I know the way I dressed in the 70’s must have seemed like I was walking around naked compared to my Mother and her generation, so I suppose my perception is now likewise tainted by being in my 50’s and being a mother of a young girl (see a sample of my high school fashion sense below). But at least back then not only were our clothes way less revealing than now, but once the night was over, the proof of any misguided choices was not documented for the rest of the world to see and comment on.
The barrage of selfies on the internet (thanks in part to the empty shells like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian) can only erode the current and future generation of young girls’ perspectives on their bodies. Sex still sells more than health. As long as this holds true, having the perfect sexy body will be more important than having courage, inner strength, compassion, and strong self-esteem.
Once again I feel I must reiterate that the average women in her 20’s or early 30’s has the ability through proper nutrition and diligent physical fitness to be rock hard, flat stomached and “perfect” (society’s label, not mine). The rest of us have to not only work really hard and stay committed to our nutrition and exercise, but in truth must accept that we are beautiful and perfect no matter our flaws. Life is just too short to try and look 20 all the time.
So the next time you want to document the hard work you’ve put in to change your body, ask someone else to take the picture, pose realistically and then think before you share it with the world. Remember what you’re saying to others when you post that picture. Ideally you’re saying you’ve worked hard and are proud of the results. I’m sure that girl at my gym was trying to say that, but unfortunately her selfie was more about what she was selling!