You need to read this teenage girl's piece about why selfies are hurting teenage girls. Olympia Nelson, writing for Australia's Essential Kids website, creates a compelling argument as to how and why the now-ubiquitous social media self portraits are harmful to teenagers' self-esteem, body image, and sexual confidence.
Nelson suggests that social media creates an atmosphere where girls are yearning to be liked. What gets the most likes on Instagram, she writes? Selfies, especially sexual ones. If you don't post half-naked selfies, you're left out; She argues that selfies ultimately create conformity.
In addition, Nelson says selfies create an atmosphere of competition between girls, as well as reinforcing patriarchal values:
It's a neurotic impulse, not a happy one. I'm anxious that girls are higher up on the ladder than I am: boys are looking at her, not me. I have to look like her to be worthy of boys' attention. Boys' tastes are not always sophisticated. The aesthetic yardstick is what they see in pornography. So girls have to conform to what boys see in pornography. And then girls post photos to ''out-hot'' the other girls by porn star criteria. Who do we blame for this moral mess? As feminists, we correctly blame patriarchy because boys are securely at the top of the status game. Boys end up with the authority. They have their cake and eat it.
I'm not sure I agree with all of her points, but I'm also not a teenager in the current social media climate. I came of age in the time of AIM instant messenger and Friendster, so my perspective on the ways that teens today use Instagram and Snapchat and Facebook to garner approval (including sexual approval) is admittedly quite different.
Still, I think her argument is intelligent and critical, if I don't think it's as simple as having some "good taste" in the way we use social media.