The first time I posted a selfie on Instagram, I didn’t think twice about it. I looked good when I took it (or so I thought), and we all post photos of ourselves when we look good … right? After all, I can’t count the number of times I’ve scrolled through Instagram’s home reel and viewed nothing but photo after photo of friends showing off new haircuts, drinking coffee, or even driving.
Our culture is obsessed with selfies.
Despite their widespread prevalence, however, what real reason do we have for posting them? Are we just seeking validation? Soon after I posted that first selfie, friends began commenting on it, posting their compliments and kind words. As nice as their intentions were, however, it occurred to me that each comment was focused on how I looked in the photo, not on who I am. With this realization, I was filled with self-consciousness. I felt both vain and superficial. Do I even look like that in real life? What if it’s just the tilt of the camera or the filter that make me appear beautiful to others?
Since this experience, I’ve become much more conscious of the image I project on social media. Before posting a picture, for example, I now ask whether I am just seeking approval or whether I have a better reason to share. I want to make sure that what I am presenting is an honest and authentic representation of who I am, not some watered-down, edited, online version. Often, the things we beat ourselves up about — laugh lines, cellulite, etc. — are real, beautiful and lovable. They are marks of our humanity — how we’ve lived, loved and found joy.
Isn’t it time we start embracing our whole selves, flaws and all? What makes us beautiful lies not in our outward appearance, but in our hearts and what comes out of those hearts. Shouldn’t we therefore seek to share more of what fills us up and inspires us?
If I ever post another a selfie, I hope that it will depict a genuine reflection and be colored with love and value. I also hope that being more genuine online will help me become more authentic in person. It doesn’t take much to be kind and encouraging through our posts and comments on social media, but let’s never forget the importance of speaking those same words of love and encouragement in person as well.
As Mother Theresa’s words remind us,
Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.
How can you be more authentic and transparent in your online self? Is this a struggle for you?
Image via Mackenzie Rouse