This was a speech I delivered to teen girls at a youth retreat put on by the Savannah United Church in 2017 after winning Miss Cayman. The theme of the retreat and my speech was “Love your selfie”
*Forewarning* There are some Christian views in this article which I will say right now that I am not trying to enforce on you or others. These views are my own and what I shared with the young ladies who are seeking to become Christians as well.
If you are a non-religious or non-Christian, I hope that you will be able to look past that to the underlying issues that I am addressing in this speech and how I hope we can resolve them.
I said to them “Before we start, I need to do something
Then I proceed to do the following: Start by taking my own selfies – make it really dramatic – sound on – have to find the right lighting, the right pose, the right face, can’t look too far this way or that way. Mature but not old, sexy but not too sexy, natural not stiff. Then pic one, apply a flattering filter, blur some edges, fix some spots, and post with a self referential hashtag
“Can anyone tell me what I was doing? What makes that a selfie? Do you all know when the “selfie” started?
The first self portrait was taken in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, an American photographer through what was called the Daguerrian process” where you had to actually stand in front of the camera for a minute and then cap the lens. This was actually time consuming, so that never really caught on. Then there was Myspace and Facebook, but the real mastermind behind the modern selfie boom was Apple and the arrival of the iPhone 4 with a front facing camera in 2010. Now you could see yourself as you took the photo which reduced the chances of all the awkward and not so flattering pictures.
Does everyone here take selfies? Why do we take selfies? People take selfies of anything.
Action: Now I would like everyone to take out their phones and take a selfie too. We’re not going to post these online, we’re just fulfilling the first part of the definition.
Now pick your favorite picture out of your millions of selfies and I want you to tell me why you chose that one and/or why you would post it.
Selfies are a fun way to capture a moment with a friends, or to show our friends what we’re doing. But that’s not really true, is it? If we’re honest, what we’re saying is this is what I look like (after a bit of editing) and this is how I spend my time (obviously I’ll have chosen the coolest thing I’ve done all week).
Dr Terri Apter, psychology lecturer at Cambridge University, said taking selfies is all about people trying to figure out who they are and project this to other people.
The ironic thing about selfies is that while it is a picture of yourself, it’s about being noticed and accepted in society, We might take several selfies to pick the perfect one, but we don’t just leave it there; we post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. The great deal of time we spend posing for and prepping each selfie shows a deeper desire to present an idealized version of ourselves to the world because we like the attention, being noticed, being part of the culture.
Do you think we should be concerned about this? Why or why not?
Now I’d like you to let the person beside you see the selfie you chose and let them tell you what they like about the selfie you choose.
While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with taking a selfie and sharing it with others, selfie culture, is immersed in narcissism. Many people are using selfies to boost their self esteem, with it becoming directly linked to the number of likes or shares you get.
If you get 2000 likes you feel on top of the world, you’re brilliant, everyone loves you, you feel famous. And this can be very addicting. Because every like, share and positive comment you get, it fuels the desire for to take more selfies.
But then the opposite is also true. If you only get 2 likes or negative comments you think that you’re not cool enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’re not thin enough, you’re life isn’t fun enough but never fear, the App store is here! Need yourself to appear thinner before posting? There’s an app for that. Need to have more hair, different colour eyes, exciting background there’s an app for that. So we can manipulate our image to be as perfect as we think it should be and we are obsessed with it!
Within the pageant industry, there is inherent danger of this happening. We get on stage or take photos in the hopes that we will become the winner so we want to choose only the best photos. I myself became obssessed with taking selfies, taking pictures every day of myself, posting them online only to get disheartened when I only got 30 likes.
I knew something had to change.
What would Jesus do? What would He say about me right now?
Do you think the selfie culture fits in with our Biblical values? Do you think that God minds that we take selfies or do you think He’s in Heaven taking selfies too – like #december25th #itsmybirthday #yolo
When we apply Biblical standards to the selfie culture, there is a direct clash of values. Galatians 5:24 reminds us that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Those “passions and desires” are described in 1 John 2:15–16 as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” The “pride of life” certainly defines self-absorption.
I don’t want you to think that I am against selfies because that would make me hypocritical but I want you to recognize that our social media accounts can never contain the full picture of who we are. People only post the “coolest” or most exciting parts of their lives, and as a result we developed what is socially known as FOMO – Fear of missing out.
But what we are seeing on someone’s profile are carefully selected and edited images shaped to receive the affirmation we desire. So what we’re really doing is comparing our full lives to someone else’s “best of” reel, and it’s making us dissatisfied.
We will never find rest and peace if we are constantly searching for human affirmation alone, depending on other people to love us for what we look like with a filter. We need to find our meaning and affirmation elsewhere—and that’s in God. God is forever, and so is His love. We can rest assured that God loves us more than any double-tap could demonstrate, that he sees us without filters and still calls us his beloved.
You must be thinking how can she say that when she wears makeup like everyday, is always dressed up and posts selfies all the time. But I could take all of this off and still love my self because I know my worth does not come from how many likes I get.
My worth is in my intelligence, my opinions, in my family, and what I give back to my community. My worth comes from God who told me I am fearfully and wonderfully made. As a result, I am not ashamed of the fact that my selfie isn’t as perfect as the next person. I love my selfie.
I’d like to leave you with a few pointers.
First, always examine the purpose of your selfie. What are you trying to represent to the world? If you are trying to live a righteous life, what are you telling them about the God?
What is this selfie communicating to the possibly hundreds or thousands of people who will eventually come across this picture? Why do you think that a certain part of your body needs to be seen by others; some that you have never met personally, and others that you will see tomorrow in class?
Second, by all means, take the selfie. But take them to show the world how beautiful we become when we are in Christ. “Look at me. You see my joy in winning Miss Cayman? If you know me you know how deeply I treasure the God who gave me this opportunity.”
Third, take fewer selfies. Period. And for every selfie you do take, I want you to repeat this mantra: God loves me without filters. I am beautiful inside and out.
Fourth, when in doubt about the potential consequences of a selfie in a certain pose or wearing a certain outfit, don’t post it. Keep it as a private reminder of your self-restraint. Taking pictures of ourselves is not sinful. The issue is with the role you place on these things in your life. As we take our selfies and post them for others to see, we must take care to maintain godliness, modesty, and propriety.
Finally, let’s turn a little of our attention from self-portraits to familial portraits. The most beautiful trait in a person to me is a kind and giving heart. Use your camera–a great gift from God, by the way–to honor others. Put pictures of your brother or sister accomplishing something, your friend’s new job. Show the world that your life is not just centered around yourself, but on others also.
So, don’t give up your selfies. Love your selfie. But for every selfie you take, make sure to take three non-selfies. Show the world that the world of me is also about you. I know the theme is love your selfie but I think we should start a new trend and call it the “youfie.”
After all, in the words of a very wise man named Dr. Seuss “why fit in when you were born to stand out?
Let me know what you think in the comments 🙂