How My Daughters Changed My Mind About Selfies

I know. I’m old. It took me a good long while before I realized “selfies” were a thing. Like, “SELFIE” is an actual real word with a real definition.

When I was a kid, if we couldn’t find someone to take a picture of us, we turned our camera around, clicked the shutter, and hoped when the film was developed some parts of our faces would be in the photo.

In the now digital device age, everyone is taking photos of themselves. Well, I’d never fall into that fad. How obnoxious! And my teen daughters? No way would I allow their duck faced, kissy mouthed, bathroom mirror shots on the internet.

Until 3 weeks ago.

Right before we left on our family jaunt to see The Mouse in Florida, Edd bought the girls new phones. (I also said I’d never get our girls iPhones but our contract was changing and it was actually cheaper to do it this way and I know what I said but don’t judge and I will save that discussion for a future blog post. *deep breath*) 

Anyway, these new phones have camera lenses on the front AND back, making selfie taking easier than ever. 

“But, why?” I whined to the girls when after an hour of iPhone possession they already had 25 pics of themselves on their photo stream. “I’m right here to take your picture! I can take it further away so no one has to look up your nose.”

“Ugh, Mom! You just don’t get it!”

I really didn’t. But I made them promise to only post on their private internet accounts, where I have full right to pull anything I deem inappropriate.

I have 32 years worth of photos stacked in boxes in our basement. We didn’t buy a digital camera until our 2nd daughter was born in 2002. I bet if I emptied out those boxes today, I would not find a photo of just my mother and me together. I think Edd’s and my wedding album might have one, but my mother was never in photos. She took the candids. 

Waiting in a gate chair for our plane to board, I grabbed my 14 year old’s phone and scrolled through her pics. I saw this.

Oh, I love this. I would have loved this if someone else took it. Does it really matter that Emma snapped it herself?

As our vacation progressed, I softened on my selfie stance. Not only were Edd and I actually in some of the pictures, now I have tons of memories from my daughters’ points of view. Most times when I want them to pose for me, they balk. (To be fair, I do take a lot of photos.) But when they are in charge of the “what” and “when”, the photos turn out more original than any pose I can conjure. 

Plus, I’m reminded my girls really have fun together.

I’ve had “The Selfie Talk” with my girls. 

1. No pics in the bathroom.
2. Mom hates duck faces.
3. No pics of body parts other than faces.
4. Mom and Dad have All The Passwords and will yank an inappropriate pic down so fast your head will spin.
5. If Mom and Dad yank a photo, you will be grounded from your phone.


Now as young teens, both girls respond with “Mooooommmm. We would never do anything like that! Ewwwwww.”

I’m not naive. I know as they get older, these rules will need to grow in the what-not-to-do department. I’ll get back to you when that happens.

Between you and me, can I tell you my favorite part about my daughters taking selfies? They are not ashamed with how they look. At 14, I hated having my photo taken. At 43, I hate having my photo taken. If my girls can see themselves as beautiful as I see them, I’m okay with this. 

Can you imagine what might happen if my daughters actually grow up with a positive self-image? It’s almost too much to hope for. I don’t want to jinx it.

You won’t find a ton of my own selfies on the internet, but on this vacation I tried to learn from my kids. And you know what? It was kind of fun.

What’s your position on selfies? 

Comments

  1. Jelani Greenidge says

    I really appreciate this post, a lot.

    One of the benefits of being friends with parents is that, on a very basic, surface-level way, I get to grapple with some of the same philosophical and moral issues that they have as they make decisions about how their kids will interact with technology.

    I'm sure that part of you just resents having to make peace with the idea of closing the barn door long after the horses have gone and run off, but at the same time, I applaud your humility. It's true that selfies are an important vehicle for self-expression in this new generation. I would also dare to opine that perhaps one of the big differences between their lives now and our lives when we were their age is that we had to find a way to inject ourselves into the new technology of the day in a way that they don't have to, because now technology is designed to be able to reflect the tastes and whims of the user.

    I guess that's my way of saying that the user relationship has evolved in a way that your kids see themselves in the center of new tech in ways that we never did, or even could have, and with wearable tech being the next frontier, that's probably only going to increase with time.

    Good to know you're setting boundaries, but you're also being willing to adjust. From my distant vantage point, that looks like some good momming you're doing there. 🙂

  2. says

    Thank, Jelani. Your thoughtful feedback means a lot. And you know what? Thank God I didn't have the internet in high school. Who knows what messes I would have gotten myself into?

  3. Steffanie S says

    Great viewpoint! I enjoyed reading this. I see lots of great selfies out there. Some people really seem to have a knack for taking them—I do not! I keep trying though…hoping I will get get better at it and feel comfortable in my self image. It may be the only way I end up in photos, too, as I am usually on the other side of the camera!

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