To some, selfies will always been self-indulgent and narcissistic, but to others, they are vital tools for political action. This week, a Russian official condoned the marriage of a 16-year-old girl to a politician in his late 40's, arguing that women in Chechnya mature very young, and by the time they are 27 are as wrinkled as 50-year-olds. In response, Russian women are posting wrinkled selfies on Instagram to show their disgust for the oppression of women in Russia overall, and, in particular, the Caucasus region.
Although the most beloved selfies may be from the Kim Kardashian Selfish school, there are more meaningful uses of our most popular form of self-documentation. I enjoy a perfectly painted face and pouty pose as much as the next girl, but there's something thrilling about subverting conventional expressions of female aesthetics for a cause. You can argue that employing your body for political purposes still prioritizes the female form, and thus affirms the patriarchy's view that women are nothing more than tits and ass, but when done correctly, there is powerful subversion in harnessing our bodies for something beyond beauty and male acceptance. Here are 5 times women literally "put a face" on issues that affect them by posting selfies.
The feminist selfie trend cemented the selfie as more than just a pretty face. After a Jezebel writer decried this kind of auto-documentation, many women fired back, arguing that selfies can be empowering — particularly if your appearance doesn't fit the mold of thin, white, cis, straight, and able. Today, the #feministselfie is still a rallying cry online to show the diverse, dedicated faces behind a very misunderstood moniker.
Responding to the deplorable child bride situation in Chechnya, Russian women (and their international allies) posted selfies of their faces scrunched up to show the "horrors" of age. The #wrinkledwomen hashtag comments upon the absurdity behind children’s rights minister Pavel Astakhov statement that 16-year-olds are OK to marry because women of an appropriate age don't appear youthful enough for a man's liking.
Over the past few years, mothers have taken #brelfies AKA breastfeeding selfies, to normalize the most basic act of motherhood. The social stigma surrounding breastfeeding spurred on an entire movement that eventually changed Facebook and Instagram policies to allow of mothers to post images of the act without being banned. The #brelfie is yet another outlet for women to present the female body outside of it's historically acceptable function as sex object.
Body image activist, feminist and all around glamazon Tess Holliday started the #effyourbeautystandards hashtag to empower women of all shapes and sizes. Her movement is gaining even more notoriety as Holliday transitions from indie Instagram star to mainstream superstar, most recently with her victorious cover spot on People magazine.
Thanks to feminist comedy goddess Amy Schumer, the internet was simultaneously laughing and rethinking beauty standards early this year with her "Girl You Don't Need Makeup" music video parody. In response to the uncompromising paradox that women should be comfortable au naturel but at the same time need to cover their faces in eyeliner, lipstick and foundation to be deemd conventionally "attractive," ladies across the interwebs posted selfies of themselves sans makeup as an "eff you" to beauty standards.