January 9, 2016
The Importance of the 'We'-fie
The entire premise behind the selfie was to include yourself in photos you were taking of your favourite memories with friends, family, and lovers. But somewhere along the line, the selfie turned into a means for self-representation.
I personally believe the success of the selfie is not simply vanity and insecurity, but also recognition that one exists in this life, and people should be taking advantage of it, but in a deeper way.
I am lucky that my parents were so quick and eager to shoot photos of family occasions, at least until I was about 10. Many of our old family photographs for example are missing my father, who was taking the photo to begin with. And we weren't a normal family at the time, as my dad always had a camera strapped around his neck and had ample opportunity to snap his family while many other families did not have the luxury.
My dad's hobby slowly gave way to work, however, and photography was reserved for special occasions such as trips to the zoo or family get-togethers. It all changed for me when I was given my own SLR camera for Christmas, and I shot photo after photo of my family, separate and together. It is at this point I can come to the crux of my point: none of these photos had me in them. There were only four people in my family at that stage: my parents, my sister, and my gran. Without me anywhere, no one would know I had even existed aside from a vague wondering about who was taking the photograph.
I've never been one for having photos of myself taken. It was only when I wished to appear together with someone in a photograph that I took what today we call the selfie, but it was really a 'we'-fie, meant to capture the essence of the emotions we were going through at the time. And it is only now when I have my own child that I realise how important it is for us to have 'we'-fies together, for her to see me in photographs, just the way I am.
I read an article a while back about the presence of mothers in photos of their children and its importance in allowing our children to see that we are human and imperfect, yet share certain traits of their beauty. With the proliferation of Photoshopped women and Hollywood ideals everywhere she looks, I believe it is important that she sees images of me and more importantly that I appear in the images with her. So while I still dislike my appearance in photographs, my real presence in my daughter's life will filter through to the image, making me a more 'real' reference for her body confidence than any photo of a celebrity will ever do.
My child ... our children ... will not look at photos of us with criticism but with affection, for it is we who brought them into the world. We are their mommies and we carry with us their happy childhood, the smell of cake baking in the oven, the sound of dishes being done, the feeling of being tucked in with all their favourite toys around them, the certainty that if the thunder is too loud, we will be there, and that is what they will look for and remember when they see us in the photo smiling down at them with our rumpled shirt and undone hair and the love only a mother can have.
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