This I Believe: Selfies

Feb 17, 2016

Taking a good selfie isn’t the easiest job in the world. I mean, you have to get the perfect lighting, the angle of your camera has to be foolproof to highlight all of your best features, and well the person in front of the lens has to be damn near flawless. 

In 2016, being black isn’t the coolest thing in the world. Watching the news at times can be difficult if you are of African descent. I mean, how many times in the last six months have you heard of something positive come from the black community according to mainstream media. Also, females that don’t have a body frame that resembles that of Jennifer Lopez aren’t exactly looked at twice either. So now, you may see my dilemma when it comes to taking selfies when I tell you that I’m an overweight, highly melanated female.

Growing up, I was really shy. I wasn’t outgoing in the least. By the time I was a freshman in high school, I felt like I was surrounded by people that, at the time, seemed to come out of a People magazine. My self­esteem was nonexistent. I avoided any and everything that involved me showing my face to the public or taking pictures, including social media. I was terrified of being in front of the camera. I guess you could say I wasn’t the coolest person to be around. Despite my several insecurities, however, there was one thing that kept me happy: dance. I danced all the time at home. I was extremely flexible, strong, and I had good rhythm. I was good at it and no one could tell me otherwise.

One day late in my freshman year, I decided I would attempt to break out of my box and try out for the school dance team. I did, and I actually made it. I knew that the journey ahead would not be easy for me. I would have to get used to socializing with others and being seen by an audience. There was one obstacle, however, that didn’t cross my mind at first. I’d have to take pictures, and lots of them. I’d have to get used to taking pictures to be seen in the newspaper, on the school website, and taking ‘selfies’ with my teammates. This alone was one of the hardest things I had to overcome while being apart of the team. How was I ever going to get used to this?

After several photo ops, my dance coach pulled me to the side. She told me that she noticed whenever a camera came around I would shy away to the back of the team or not take part in the picture at all. I broke down in tears and told her about how horrified I was of taking pictures of myself and why. She understood and gave me some of the best advice I could have ever received. She simply told me to take a selfie. She noticed the confused look I had on my face. She elaborated and said: Take a selfie at least once a day. For everything you see that you don’t like, find two or three things about yourself that you do like, rather it be internal or external.

I was willing to do anything at this point so I took her advice. I took a picture of myself everyday and reviewed it. After a few days I noticed a change within myself. The dark skin that I once thought was ‘unworthy’ kind of reminded me of my favorite chocolate, which I liked the idea of. I started to realize that the weight I carried on my face gave me dimples which highlighted my smile. I noticed that my frame wasn’t anything out of a magazine but it was perfect for me and I loved it. I started to love myself more and more each day. My self esteem rose exponentially as well.

It’s now three years later after my coach gave me that advice and I couldn’t be happier with myself. I’m now captain of that dance team that I always shied away to the back row of. Whenever one of my teammates shouts that it’s time to take pictures, I’m in the front row ready and smiling bright. I’m more confident and way more outgoing. I love myself, flaws and all. So if there is anything that I believe in, it’s the power of taking selfies; the importance of loving yourself. Accepting my flaws and finding the the best in them has really changed my life for the better.