I walked the beach this morning and I’ve concluded there are only 3 types of people that are on the beach at sunrise:
- Exercise Enthusiasts – the runners, bikers, walkers
- Pensive People – those meditating, doing yoga, and generally looking like they are in deep thought
- Sunrise Selfie Shooters – does this one need an explanation?
Now to test you – who did you picture in each category?
We all have shortcuts in our brains that we rely on to categorize people and objects quickly. The result is that our subconscious brain generates images based on its own understanding of the world. There may have been some variation in the shape, size, gender or race of the people you pictured (*important side note, despite actively searching for people of color to put in this gallery, I was unable to find any images free for use that included any people of color on the beach which deserves a followup blog at some point*) but I’m guessing for the “sunrise selfie shooters” category no one pictured this:
Or any set of males doing the selfie shots. Google Image search had a really tough time finding the picture above. A search on “men taking selfies” nearly always involved a heterosexual couple with the woman driving the shot.
Why is that?
Why is it that we only see young women constantly posing, adjusting, comparing, reangling, and filtering to get just the right shot? And often, we see this behavior in groups. Normalized by one another, we women are subjecting ourselves to meet the one value society tells us we are good for – our beauty. We know it’s not good for us. Studies continue to come out showing how selfies and increased social media comparisons drive self-objectification, body dysmorphia, and depression.
As much as my job involves visual media, I recognize my own responsibility in this societal norm and my own bend to meet those expectations. I too feel the pressure to be cleaning up and filtering every shot. I don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. After all, who doesn’t want to look their best to the world? But at some point, we have to ask, at what cost? An entire generation of young women are missing the beauty of seeing a sunrise without worrying about how they look in it and I’m scared for how their own self-worth will ever grow beyond digital approval.
And I’m scared for myself.