Making Selfies Making Self Project
The contemporary and rising trend of the “selfie,” or self-portrait shared online through social media, has rarely been studied seriously. If addressed at all, selfies by young women are criticized by mass media as acts of narcissism and self-absorption. Selfies, and the social critique of selfies, however, are the products of both technological innovation and complex power relations. First, the selfie must be viewed as a product of our technological times as it necessitates a specific combination of new technologies: the front-facing camera on a mobile phone, photo-manipulation software and social media on the Internet. Second, selfies and the social critique of selfies, must be analyzed through the historically patriarchic trajectory of self-portraiture and the embeddedness of the male gaze. Third, the capitalist underpinnings of pervasive mass media images of the female body also must figure into this analysis. Rather than narcissism, the process of taking, analyzing, editing and posting selfies is an active negotiation of a girl’s self-image made amidst the stormy forces of technology, patriarchy, capitalism, mass media, peers, and personal agency.