To the sound of wild yet ambient applause, a young woman in a bubblegum-pink sweatsuit emerges in a golden orb amidst twinkling stars -- the kind of old school Internet graphics you'd expect from The Sims. Lipsticks, lollipops, diva cups and other feminine accessories float up and hover amidst shades of pink.
"Hello and welcome to Selfie Stick Aerobics," the tracksuit-clad babe says in a soothing voice. "Today we're going to practice some high energy selfie admiration and some angles for do-it-your-selfie stick. So I hope you brought your selfie sticks!"
Artists Arvida Byström and Maja Malou Lyse are the duo behind "Selfie Stick Aerobics," a five-minute clip packed with radical self-love and so much pink. So much. The video, hovering in an absurd realm between authenticity and irony, leads viewers on a trippy guide through choreographed movements designed to capture all of your good sides. Yes, belfies make an appearance.
The two artists met six years ago in Copenhagen and have reconnected to collaborate on projects in the years since. (Byström currently lives in Los Angeles, Lyse in Copenhagen.) Byström was invited by Self Publish, Be Happy to do a performance at Tate Modern, something interactive related to photography. She invited Lyse to work with her.
"Since we both work a lot with self-portraiture, doing something fun with selfies was an obvious choice!" Lyse told The Huffington Post. "Our intention was to create a fun, simple, and a subtle way of promoting body positivity."
Selfie sticks are so hot right now, and so is making fun of them. In early October, sports broadcasters had a field day mercilessly mocking a group of sorority girls snapping selfies at a Arizona Diamondbacks game. Slate's Amanda Hess pretty much summed up the viral moment: "Men like to look at young women. Young women like to look at themselves. Men don't like it when young women look at themselves. But they don't dislike it enough to stop looking at them when they're looking at themselves."
"Selfie Stick Aerobics" is not about bashing selfie habits or maligning millennial culture; in fact, it's quite the opposite. As Lyse explained to The Huffington Post: "The conversation surrounding selfies is inherently gendered -- critics call out selfies for being vain, superficial and narcissistic -- these are also adjectives often used to describe young girls and terms heavily associated with feminine identities."
Lyse and Byström join an army of young artists and activists using the power of selfies for radical change -- following in the footsteps of women like Carolee Schneemann, Ana Mendieta, Francesca Woodman and Laurie Simmons.
"We view selfies as an effective medium for self-expression and a tool for resisting the male-dominated media culture," Lyse said, "by reclaiming the feminine identity and female body -- taking ownership of our own images instead of subjecting themselves to the male gaze. In this sense, a selfie can be a radical act of political empowerment."
When asked which selfie queens they idolized, the artists cited a slew of handles: @sensitiveblackperson @artits6666, @nickiminaj, @artbabygirl, @trustmedaddy, @dafabdiva, @bloatedandalone4evr1993, @ser_sera, @jaanakrisriina, @mollymatalon, @boogerbrie and @bebeu4ev.
Now that you've been exposed to the endless powers contained within your very own iPhone, you have no excuse but to strike a pose. Allow the ladies of "Selfie Stick Aerobics" to show you how to do it right.
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