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Vol.2 Issue 2

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w w w . y o u t h c e n t r e s c a n a d a . c o m 22 I t started in 2004, when images began appearing on the popular photo-sharing website Flickr tagged "#selfie." Then came the rise of the smartphone, and the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010. The arrival of the iPhone 4 brought with it the very first front- facing camera, which started what many are calling "The Selfie Revolution." In 2013, "selfie" became the Oxford English Dictionary's official word of the year. Selfies, or self-portraits, have since become a worldwide phenomenon. Everyone's doing it: your friends and neighbours, your classmates, celebrities (remember the iconic Oscars 2014 selfie that featured the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and many other pop culture icons?) and even political figures like Barack Obama! Yes, even the President of the United States was seen in February 2015 using a selfie stick. You can watch that hilarity on Buzzfeed. Either way, some call the selfie craze a blessing, some call it a curse. Public opinion of the selfie is, to say the least, of the mixed variety. After the rise of the selfie, it didn't take long for negative opinions to develop. Countless unofficial studies have been done on this phenomenon, and almost everyone has an opinion on the subject. Selfies have been linked to low self-esteem, loneliness, narcissism and even psychopathy. Lately, selfies have gone from the top of the social media trend ladder to the focal point of criticism and, yes, even ridicule. In 2014, The Chainsmokers released a parody song to Youtube called "#Selfie." The parody instantly went viral, and became so popular that it surfaced on popular radio stations. The song pokes fun at young women, who are often accused as being the most notorious for taking selfies. This is not the first viral Youtube video to make fun of young women (we all remember youtuber LiamKyleSullivan's hit "Shoes" that went viral in 2007) and it won't be the last. However, how can we link the act of taking a selfie with low self-esteem and self-worth while ignoring how pop culture's negative portrayal of selfies might affect youth who take them, specifically young women? Recent research has overturned some interesting information that may change the public's mind when it comes to taking selfies. This summer Derek Murray, an interdisciplinary theorist and assistant professor at the University of California, conducted a study on the real reason young women take selfies. He argues that selfies are not a form of narcissism, but instead are a powerful tool of self-expres- sion and a way for young women to express control over how they are perceived. Murray says that selfies are a perfect way for women to engage in some "self-fashioning" in today's society, where they experience a lot of social pressure to look and act a certain way. He explains: "Viewed individually, they appear rather banal, common- place, and benign. Taken en masse, it feels like a revolutionary political movement – like a radical colonization of the visual realm and an aggressive reclaiming of the female body." Those who criticize selfies as nothing more than narcissistic displays of vanity fail to realize the complex reasons these photos are being taken. In his study, Murray cites Vivian Fu, a Taiwanese-American photographer and selfie-enthusiast, who said "Self-portraiture Love Yourself(ie!) Self Esteem & Body Positivity in Today's Youth By Victoria St.Michael

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