Selfies: Can I Ever Measure Up?

by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director

“Selfie” was the word the Oxford Dictionary chose as word of the year in 2013, only three years after Apple introduced the selfie camera on its iPhone 4 in 2010. Since then, millions of selfies have been posted at a current rate of 6.88 billion per year, or about 92 million selfie photos a day, according to 2022 analytics.  

If those numbers seem incredible, they are. Even more astounding is that the average person taking a selfie takes 2-15 photos to get a picture they are willing to post. Additionally, most will spend 7-12 minutes adjusting and filtering the photo to improve its appearance, according to Beauty site FeelUnique, which commissioned a study earlier this year, Refinery29 reported.

So what’s the big deal?

People want to look nice in posted pictures. That seems reasonable, and I agree. But to look nice, people take multiple images of themselves and reject most of them. The photuroial analytics say that upwards of 41% of those who take selfies hate themselves in the picture – even the ones they post. If you take one selfie a day and take four photos to get one good picture, you will reject yourself 21 times a week. Most girls, 27 and under, take many more pictures than that. By rejecting photos taken, you say you hate or don’t like a picture of yourself many more times than you are affirming yourself. That amount of negative self-talk is damaging. 

No wonder youth and young adults struggle with anxiety, self-esteem, and self-worth issues. No wonder young girls are obsessed with their physical appearance, weight, beauty, and portraying the “perfect bodies.”  

Comparisons breed negative outcomes.

“Recent studies also highlight a link to negative outcomes (self-objectification: Feltman & Szymanski, 2018; body image disturbance: de Vries et al., 2016; risk of developing eating disorders: Mabe et al., 2014) which may be due to idealized images driving potentially harmful social comparisons (Marengo et al., 2018).”1

What can we do to stop comparisons?  

1) Parents should monitor all their children’s accounts. You should know what your child is posting and how often. Too many or too explicit selfies should be red flags that other issues are at play and should be addressed immediately.

2) We must value face-to-face interaction and conversation over curated comments, likes, shares, and follows. We are created for in-person community. Though online communities can serve great good, without face-to-face interaction, our souls starve.

3) We must realize many “influencers” share curated narratives that line their pockets and the sponsors who pay them. Influencers carefully craft narratives that draw you in and influence you to purchase the things they have or encourage you to do the things they do. They do not share real-world, real-life experiences with their audiences. 

4) We must embrace the truth that we are uniquely created in the image of God. We are not all the same, nor should we be. Society’s ideals for outward beauty constantly change, but true beauty is derived from an inner sense of peace and congruence birthed from accepting who we are, how God created us, and how we are to live out His plan for our lives.

The next time you want to take a selfie, stop, take a moment to look around and choose to enjoy the moment rather than make the moment about you. Cherish the blessing of God’s creation, friendships, and beauty surrounding you. Deeply experience the moment. Refrain from thinking about likes, comments, and shares. Instead, thank God that He created you, unique as you are, and He sings in delight over you (Zeph. 3:17)! He loves you (Jn. 3:16)!