I will never be able to look at selfies in the same way again.
Personally, I am not too fond of taking selfies on a regular basis. I used to enjoy partaking in “the selfie” but after a while selfies just got old. I found myself feeling a lot of pressure to perform “sexy” or “hot” in my selfies to get likes.
There was a day where I decided enough was enough and I didn’t need to feel pressure or feel like I was being fake. Now, I partake in the selfie every once in a while, but after a gender/sex class I had recently, I feel like I can’t take a selfie without feeling a whole lot of dissonance.
What I learned in that particular class was that women take selfies for “The Male Gaze.” The male gaze is the way women are presented as objects for male pleasure and are depicted from a masculine point of view. As women, young and old, take selfies, they aren’t taking them for themselves.
As she pouts her lips, tilts her head, and shows offs her cleavage, she stares into the camera and doesn’t see herself. She sees the male gaze and what it would think of her. After about 60 pictures snapped, maybe she finds one that she feels the male gaze would praise. Once it’s posted on the net, the verdict of her decisions streams in through likes, hearts, or smiley faces, which give her approval and a sense of self-worth.
Women are playing into the male gaze with every selfie, displaying themselves as objects and seeking rewards. The understanding of what is taking place during the selfie process now forces me to think critically about what I am doing with my body when taking pictures and posting them on the web.
I know if I take a selfie, the selfie is going to show off my best features in the best way possible. My hair will be shiny and volumized. My makeup will be flawlessly done. My teeth clean and white. My clothing sexy and cute. And why do I only feature these attributes? I feature them because I know that it’s what will get the most praise from the male gaze.
Before learning about the male gaze, I didn’t realize I was objectifying myself or sexualizing myself for attention or self-worth. Now, I see this notion clearly and I feel an overwhelming sense of anguish and discomfort when deciding if I want to post a selfie or not. I look at my pose and the way that I look at the lens and I realize I am not looking at the lens at all. I am looking at a theoretical audience that is looking back at me. Judging me. Approving me.
I think to myself, “Do I really want to do this to myself? Do I want to reduce myself to just an object? I am more than just a pretty face. I have a big heart, a beautiful mind, and a personality that shines. I need to find another way.”
This is why I will never see selfies in the same light, EVER again. And I’m okay with it because truth and objectivity are empowering. I’d rather be empowered through my mind than objectified through my body.
Ladies, what about you?