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Written by Nikki Cox

Selfies - we've all taken them at one time or another; photographs taken of ourselves, typically with a smartphone or webcam, and shared via social media.

Selfies are essentially self-constructed, idealised images of the 'perfect' way we wish other people to see us in the online world. People take and post selfies for a myriad of reasons, and there is currently a fair amount of research into the purpose behind and effects of selfie taking, which is providing interesting results with regards to women and their selfie habits.

The Impacts of Selfies on Social Media

Selfies that are taken for your own purposes, and not just for others, usually have positive outcomes, such as:

  • Boosts in morale
  • Maintenance of an already-strong identity
  • Self-awareness raising
  • Self-affirmation
  • A practice of freedom

That said, most of these are achieved by women that already have a strong sense of identity and high levels of self-esteem, self-compassion and self-confidence. Selfie taking by these types of women only serves to further boost these qualities with minimal ill-effects.

Once you become a mother, your identity is often challenged and it becomes hard to see yourself as more than just the role of ‘Mum’. In addition, many mums have low self-esteem and self-confidence for a variety of reasons, which likely include experiences of judgment and criticism since becoming a parent. It is therefore more likely that, as a mum, you will either avoid posting selfies altogether, or will take and post selfies on social media for unhelpful reasons, and with some harmful results.

Women that already have low self-esteem and self-compassion, and a low sense of self-worth usually post selfies in the hopes to try and increase these, however this is largely unsuccessful due to their unrealistic expectations of the responses to their posted selfies. These women are usually trying to cover up deeper feelings that are best dealt with outside of social media.

Negative effects experienced by these women can include:

  • Obsession with trying to obtain 'the perfect selfie'
  • Increased insecurities
  • Damaging levels of self-consciousness
  • Self-comparisons just to be better than others
  • Fuels low self-esteem
  • Lowers self-confidence and self-compassion

Finding the Real Me

The first step to building self-esteem, self-compassion and self-confidence is to take yourself out of the social media realm and reconnect with who you truly are. Knowing your identity allows you to move past fears connected with being judged and having to be a ‘perfect parent’. Then, once you return to selfies and social media, you can feel at ease ‘in your own skin’ – warts and all.

Take a look at some of the most popular mum-related videos and blog posts online. The vast majority of these highlight parenting ‘fails’ or imperfections. Mums love seeing or reading about other mum’s failing or struggling; not because we enjoy gloating about not failing, but because it reminds us that other mums struggle as much as we do. Other mums are going through the same fears, worries, and joys as you, every day.

We may all differ in some way; make different decisions, have different interests, have different daily routines, have different priorities, but knowing what your differences are is critical to being able to truly love yourself.

To find who you are, take the time to breakdown and reflect on the parts that make up your identity, especially now that you’re a mum:

  • Personality
  • Interests and Hobbies
  • Values and Beliefs
  • What you bring to your Occupation, and what it brings you
  • Talents and Skills

Loving the Real Me

In order to love who you really are outside social media and the world of selfies comes down to your understanding of your own self-compassion.

A self-compassionate woman is someone who accepts and views themselves as a valuable, enjoyable and capable person with or without acceptance, positive feedback, or praise from others. Hence, if you love and value yourself, responses (or lack thereof) to selfies posted on social media have little to no effect on that self-love and value.

Self-compassion also promotes a sense of community; that is, everyone is equal and worthy. So acceptance of who you are leads to acceptance of others as who they are, reducing judgement of your own selfies and the selfies of others. It's the ability to accept that imperfection is part of being human, which also allows you to connect with others more easily.

Lastly, it is also the absence of self-criticism, especially when comparing yourself to others, and when you are able to accept yourself as who you are.

10 Tips for Self-Compassion

  1. Carve out regular pockets of quality ‘me’ time
  2. Nourish your body and brain
  3. Move your body regularly
  4. Engage in regular stress management and maintenance techniques
  5. Reconnect with nature
  6. Practice heartfelt gratitude daily
  7. Invest in good quality sleep
  8. Define your goals and dreams
  9. Reward yourself regularly, even for small achievements
  10. Talk to yourself like you would your own child or best friend

If you learn to love and accept who you are, as a woman, mother, sister, wife, daughter, work colleague... imperfections and all, selfies and social media take on a whole new meaning in your life.

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