body pol­i­tics

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - HEALTH -

the power of the selfie knows no bounds. As 2013’s word of the year, so­cial net­works are still lit­tered with these in­nu­mer­able self­por­traits, as just about ev­ery smart­phone and tablet are equipped with front-fac­ing cam­eras. But one man’s trash is an­other man’s trea­sure. Well known for its drive to im­prove women’s self-im­age, Dove de­buted its lat­est cam­paign – sim­ply ti­tled Selfie – at the 2014 Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val. The short film sets out to show that not only can the im­ages we see on so­cial net­works im­pact our per­cep­tions of beauty; they can change them for the bet­ter. The video, that has since popped up on a num­ber of news and so­cial-net­work sites, fol­lows a group of teenage girls and their moth­ers, who were asked to take self­ies of them­selves, fo­cus­ing on all the things they can’t look at for too long in the mir­ror, with no fil­ters or ed­its; tar­get­ing their body-im­age and self-es­teem strug­gles with the click of a but­ton. Each selfie was blown up and fea­tured in an ex­hi­bi­tion where people could stick pos­tit com­ments on the pho­to­graphs. Un­like the troll-in­fested com­ments sec­tions on sites like In­sta­gram, each im­age was cov­ered with the things that oth­ers found to be beau­ti­ful, al­low­ing the sub­jects to look at them­selves through oth­ers’ eyes. Per­haps it is not enough to counter the overwhelming num­ber of edited pho­to­graphs of women with per­fect hair, faces and bod­ies on­line, but it is a start. So­cial me­dia is fast be­com­ing a great equal­izer.You can choose what you want to see, share and be ex­posed to. The me­dia flood­ing your life is yours to cu­rate and that choice and re­spon­si­bil­ity is em­pow­er­ing. Hon­our­ing your per­cep­tion of beauty means how you see yourself and oth­ers is no longer be­ing writ­ten for you – the self-worth blame game has been turned on its head. By draw­ing your own beauty pa­ram­e­ters, the me­dia can’t make you feel any­thing – too fat, too short, too dark or too light.The only ex­pec­ta­tions left to con­form to are your own. For me, beauty is the days I look in the mir­ror with­out sigh­ing.And some­times, a hud­dle of duck­faces on a dance floor.

Dove’s Selfie cam­paign.

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