The selfie as confidence booster? Maybe

Published 10:32am Thursday, July 31, 2014

We have all seen it: it’s a horrible distortion of American youth that is making even the prettiest people look as if their lips were caught in a drain. The dreaded duck face. No one looks good making the duck face, but it has become a natural pose for so many. It’s the go-to for any selfie.

In case you haven’t heard or have chosen to ignore it, a selfie is a self-portrait that is taken with a phone or digital camera. The proper selfie is taken with one hand at arm’s distance or taken from waist-level while facing a mirror. They litter social media.

I have an Ole Miss friend, Kate, who takes more selfies in an hour than I have taken in my entire social media life. At the football game… selfie#hottytoddyfailstate. In a restaurant … selfie#imsotasty. Rolling out of bed with last night’s makeup sliding off … selfie#wokeuplikethis. It is ridiculous, and my entire group of friends joke about it, but it hasn’t stopped her. She is documenting every moment of her life with Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. Who cares that you ate eggs or watched TV? Come on, Kate, seriously?

My first thought when I met this girl was not flattering. All I could think was that she was so vain and people who spend that much time on social media must be ridiculously self-conscious. Then I got to know her and had to rethink the whole selfie issue.

Maybe, just maybe, selfies are not a bad thing. I could go even further to say they could quite possibly be a good thing.

A selfie is a form of personal expression. Every time my friend Kate takes a photo, she is leaving her thumbprint on the day. Her self-confidence is through the roof. She does not just take selfies that look good; she takes them to document her life. It’s not about vanity. Kate is proud of her appearance, friends, moments and everything else for which she pulls out her phone.

Everybody has a phone with a camera and is able to shoot as many pictures of themselves as they want. To my knowledge, no one has ever said to their great-grandchildren that they had too many pictures of themselves when they were young. Thanks to modern technology, we can all leave our thumbprints in places throughout the day. This is who I am, this is what happened to me today and I want to share.

Personally, I don’t take selfies. I feel way too nervous in front of the lens. I analyze every photo of myself; my smile won’t be just right, my cheeks are too puffy, my shoulders look huge. I can always find numerous problems.

For every photo that I put on Facebook, I have rejected 20 others. But Kate puts everything online or in a text message. Looking perfect isn’t the purpose of selfies. I always think about what someone else will think about the photo I took of me making a funny face, but in reality no one other than me cares about my appearance. Kate doesn’t think about other people’s perceptions. She does what she wants.

Maybe everyone should start taking selfies, any age or any gender. Take them when you aren’t wearing make-up or even when you feel blue. Tell the world you were here on this day and this is what happened. Even if you don’t feel like posting it on Facebook for all the world, send it to your family or friends. (If they are anything like my group, they love getting pictures of friends.) This may actually boost your self-confidence.

I will continue to tease Kate, but I really think she is onto something. Maybe someday I’m going to realize that expressing myself is not about taking beauty shots – it’s about showing who I am. I am an actual person, and selfies can be a tool to show that. Although it will make me anxious for a while, I am going to start taking a selfie of myself every few days. I may even make the duck face.


 Katie Williamson is a news reporter for The Daily Leader. Contact her at

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