Monday, 5 October 2015

In Defence of a Selfie

I dread seeing headlines that accuse smart phones of robbing us of our present moment. 

Article upon article accusing parents of neglecting their children. Working people losing productivity at the office. Fingers pointed at teenagers for taking selfies, calling them egotistic and self-obsessed. And never mind all those clinical studies showing decline in cognitive function and disruption of the circadian rhythm due to the radio frequency and glare of the screen!

I dread it mostly because I am compelled to read it all, fearful that one of these days I might be found guilty of some or even all of the above. But I dread it more because I waste time reading the stuff that does not really interest me - I am a kick ass parent. I read it solely because of the potential guilt of which I'm afraid I might be currently oblivious. Note to self: please don’t give a damn who says what! 

So it's been on my mind for a while now - life coach that I am - to look for what is good in having my mighty iPhone be my constant companion for the last several years. And although I can often point to a text message or a quick call that made me come alive, feel loved and appreciated in that very present moment we are accused of wasting away while staring at the phone, I still somehow fail to find a strong case in defence of my sleek Disney "Cars" stickers-adorned phone being near me so often.

Just this past week I dared post a selfie on Facebook taken right upon checking into the Trump Tower hotel. It was that moment when I closed the door of the suite on the 22nd floor behind me and leaped to explore the bathroom (don't ask - the bathroom is absolutely the very first place I check out every single time) only then glancing at my king-sized bed. A flirty pink orchid on the desk. A full selection pillow menu. I mean pillow menu! Automatic blinds. A single standing bathtub overlooking Toronto's downtown. Heated floors. Sunflower shower. A built-in TV in the bathroom mirror (I turned on only once just to experience the insanity of that innovation in hotel offerings and question the sanity of the market that bought into it!).
This is home for the next five days? - Hell YES! 

The only thing I had to do was drop my bags and throw myself - with all the might of a yoga aficionado - backwards on the silky white bedding. Snap a selfie and - voilà! This shot garnered a lot of praise and 'Facebook love' but also some comments that made me think:

- "I am not good at taking selfies"
- "I feel awkward taking pictures of myself"
- "Am I becoming some self-obsessed lunatic?" 

As of this writing I am not aware of any articles defending a selfie. All I have ever come across has been negative. So please search for the science of it someplace else - I am no scientist. Instead, I am a storyteller. Here is the story: 

Take as many goddamn selfies as you please, please! No justifying and no apologies. 

Why wouldn't you? Especially if you are a woman

Are we not always the ones who are hidden behind the camera and later missing on all major life event photos?! You make the cake, decorate it and then stand as far as you can from your child blowing the birthday candles? 
Last time someone took photographs of you was at your wedding. An attempt to have a say how you wanted to be captured risked putting you in the bridezilla category. So you pursed your lips. 
Then came pregnancy and although glowing, you felt too big to take too many photos other than the growing belly ones - they are justified. Your face with those dark splotchy spots and the double-chin - not so much. 
For the following several years you used all the kids you have delivered to hide your body at the beach. So - conveniently - you became a family photographer of your own family. 
Then kids entered the phase when they just make silly faces followed by a phase where they want nothing to do with you, let alone take a photo. 
The next time you look - if you did life right - you will have a few deep wrinkles and a myriad of those only visible to you, making you conscious of how to choose the angle, the light, the hair toss... 

You know where I am going with this? 
When you glance at your watch next time, kids will be gone and you will finally have the time to arrange those photo albums - one of life's most taunting mega projects I am intimidated to even think about. And guess what? You will notice, with sadness, that your vibrant and younger self, missed out on too many of those hug and squeeze and "cheese" moments. 

I have met many refugees over the past decade and a half of living as an immigrant in Canada - some have lost everything prior to safely landing here. The very lucky ones have only lost material possessions. When I ask them - what one thing do they miss the most - the answer is always the same. The photographs. The account they were younger once. More innocent. Still dreaming. 
I will happily be labeled egotistic and self-obsessed. But to me, selfie is 'dope'. It is my proof Marina was here, in my beautiful, busy and complicated life, rightiously taking my space under the sun. 
You are welcome to take a look!

That time I was a double divorcee with a child
That time I got my plane ticket for Belgrade
That time I discovered the joys of hot yoga
That time I discovered the sadness of an empty nester
That time I remembered I have two more kids to go ;-)
That time I finally summoned my crew
That time we attempted a family photo
That time we had three generations together
That time I felt the call of the wild
That time the call of the domesticated came a bit too close
That time I witnessed beginning of Shabbat in Jerusalem
That time I witnessed sunrise at Taj Mahal
That time car-crazy replaced car-sick
That time I walked to help End Women's Cancer
That time I drank to celebrate amazing woman's birthday
That time I got photobombed
That time I almost went deaf
That time I surrendered and played along
That time I really loved my outfit
That time I really loved myself

It is all well worth it. You are well worth it. Now - you go do it!
Take as many selfies as you please. Take them even if you don't please. Give it a try. Just like the mirror work it will help you get to know and love the beautiful you inside of you.

Your ten-years-older self will love you for it!


  1. I LOVE this post—and the sight of all your selfies brought a smile to my face. (Sorry I didn't take a selfie to prove it.) Have you nervous that it's always young girls and women who get the most flack for over-selfie-ing. I think part of the reasons for that is because our society is primed to find everything young girls and women do frivolous and ridiculous. But I think they know something the rest of us don't. And so we should take up the selfie in solidarity, as well as for all the other reasons you mention here.

    1. Thank you! Being a mom of three boys it is my mission to pay attention, learn from and celebrate girls! <3