People condemn the 'Selfie.'
They look at it like a narcissistic, selfish cry for attention.
But they couldn't be further from the truth...
We live in a society that has ridiculous beauty standards, where every surface we see is splashed with highly retouched images of men and women who fit the 'perfect' aesthetic. They are far too slim, muscular, stunning and perfect. Something that we humans, are not.
Everywhere we turn, we see another image of perfect people who don't actually exist and it is ingrained in us to want to fit that perfect image. We feel that we need to look like that in order to be accepted in our own society. We think, if we don't look like Miss and Mr Universe, that we'll be classified as *gasp* ugly.
We are taught to compare ourselves to others, to admire the perfect pictures of the perfect people, with their flawless skin, tiny waistlines and impeccable fashion.
We covet the images, we point to them and say defiantly, "I want to look like that!"
But now, in the age of the selfie, we are taking it all back.
We are taking pictures of ourselves and sharing them on social media, hanging them in our homes and giving them to friends and family as gifts.
And the reason is this: We aren't perfect. We aren't airbrushed and we are real. And we want to see real people, people who are different and have flaws, who aren't in magazines.
We are creating our own definition of beauty.
We are finally casting off our feelings inferiority and embracing ourselves and our bodies and we are proud of overcoming our hurdles, body image issues and self loathing.
We share our pictures to show people that we are no longer afraid of being photographed, and that people of all shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicity and backgrounds are beautiful, because they are unique and different.
Selfies are this generation's way of coping with years of body policing from the media, our friends, family and strangers.
Selfies are us giving people who bullied us about our looks or weight the proverbial middle finger and saying 'Your words cannot hurt me, for I love myself. I will not hate myself because you cannot accept me.'
We have been forced to fit these unacceptable and unattainable beauty standards set by the media for too long -- a faceless bully who affects millions of people's self-esteem worldwide.
If we had more magazine articles written about encouraging us to love ourselves, teaching us to love and accept others and how to embrace a more positive lifestyle instead of focusing on how to drop 10 kilograms in a week and how to get the 'perfect' Summer physique, there would be less body image issues, less focus on weight and looks, less weight related bullying and less self-hatred.
Selfies are a way to express profound self-love and new found self-esteem. Only a few years ago, if you wore anything over a size six, you were hardly represented by the media whatsoever, and while this is still a part-truth, we are seeing a more diverse range of bodies in the media now.
For years, however, we were doomed to look on these immaculate and stunning people, pouting and smoldering up at us from the glossy pages of the latest magazine, without realizing just how damaging these pictures were.
With so much pressure put on us to look like these unreal people, is it any wonder that we decided to take matters into our own hands? Literally.
People are hitting the gym and documenting their fitness journey with selfies, showing their progress and how proud they are to have become more fit. Fuller-figured people are snapping pictures of themselves to show the world the confidence they have in their bodies and in how they look.
Everyone is posting selfies for one reason or another, and it isn't necessarily a bad thing.
We are finally embracing who we are and how we look. We are taking back our bodies and publishing pictures of them on social media, not for attention (while attention is often received) but to say 'Look at me, I love my body and I love who I am!' Instead of pining after the body and looks of a supermodel, or the muscles and strength of a world-renowned weight lifter.
We are creating our own definition of beautiful, we are embracing our flaws and challenging social norms.
We all want to see realistic forms of beauty, we all want to be represented in the media, so what better way than to represent yourself, with your own beauty, your own style, no Photoshopping, just you the way you look? Beautiful, raw and unique.
Jessica Lovejoy is a Body Positive Advocate and writer.
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