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Mental Notes
Musings on creativity, psychology and living better

Why not take a Selfie?

Monday, August 18 11:37 AM

When I was a photography student in art school, the self was constantly explored through imagery. The idea of a “self portrait” was a rite of passage for most students. And many painters and artists throughout history have used the self-portrait as a way to hone their skills and show themselves to the world, charting their ascent to fame and sometimes even their descent into madness (think Van Gogh’s portraits of himself with his ear cut off).

Now we live in a world where the word “selfie” is part of our dictionary and taking your own portrait is commonplace. You no longer need to be an accomplished artist or even an art student to create self-portraits. The “Selfie” has become a part of our mainstream online culture, where we have been granted the ability to instantly create our self portrait to share with our online communities. We can also use filters, camera angles and have the instant satisfaction of seeing the result. I have also recently learned that special apps exist to touch up any flaws in the image. There have been many different ideas about the use of selfies in the media lately, some good, some negative. I believe any exploration of the self can be positive.

Cindy Sherman, a contemporary photographer, creates all of her images using herself but in costumes, make-up and wigs, to create a character in effort to build conversation surrounding women’s roles in society. Her creative choices are not only intriguing but brave and bold. She holds the viewer's attention by her ever evolving ways of utilizing her own self. We recently posted a short video of her explaining her process. If you missed it, you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiszC33puc0

In Australia, a group of 13 and 14 year old girls are using selfies to explore “building self-confidence, resilience, healthy relationships and dismissing unrealistic standards of beauty” in a program called This is Me: Self Identity Project. http://goo.gl/13hL9s . This project encourages girls to use selfies not just to make themselves appear beautiful, pretty, or sexy, but to show different sides of themselves that may not typically be expressed in a more traditional selfie, which tends to encourage sexualized or conventional beauty ideals.

Why can’t we use the selfie in our everyday life to explore and celebrate the many aspects of ourselves. Feeling playful? Wear a hat or a wig! Wonder what you would look like with shorter hair? Pull it back and take a pic! No make-up? More Make-up? Why not? Let’s take a lesson from the greats and use the selfie for self-expression and to hone our creative skills. Find time to explore and celebrate yourself today! Take a selfie and share it!