By Syreeta McFadden
When others recognize you being present in a world of wonder, you feel the joy of existence. That’s why we take selfies. They are pixelated bits of confection to remind us that we are all interconnected, no matter how we try to tear each other apart.
Our societies celebrate a singular definition of beauty to the exclusion of others. I think of this when I see stray posts of young women of color – black girls, dark skin girls – sharing their carefree moments, perfect and imperfect. Resolution with dark skin in dark light still is a challenge for smartphone cameras, yet I adore how adaptive and inventive we are with that limitation.
We fiddle with Instagram filters, use other photo apps to adjust light curves values that render us magical, mysterious – the center in our own stories – with beauty, drama, and complexity. These photo apps are teaching us to see ourselves anew and across multiple situations. While the mainstream may not yet reflect a wide, true and constructed representation of people of color, we’re creating space for that existence in the cyber world. We’re cultivating a vernacular to understand our images beyond stilted paradigms.
I’d imagine that’s what over a billion posts under the hashtag “selfie” on Instagram show. There’s community in this generation selfies. In the last four years, we’ve witnessed an explosion of shareable images chronicling our highs, lows and sillies alone or standing with others. We’ve seen how communal selfies can be. It’s a misnomer to describe this act with the prefix self – the group self portrait is about so much more than just the individual.