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Selfies: Just Signs of Healthy Teen Confidence?

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Are selfies a healthy expression of youthful female confidence, and therefore a habit that should be supported, praised, and rewarded with re-purposed soccer trophies or gymnastics ribbons? Maybe! So argues Rachel Simmons for Slate. “The selfie is a tiny pulse of girl pride,” she writes. “A shout-out to the self.”

An educator for fifteen years, Simmons has written the rare article that is thoughtfully, intelligently, un-ironically pro-selfie. She admirably tries to understand the selfie-taking compulsion from a teen girl’s perspective. She says:

If you write off the endless stream of posts as image-conscious narcissism, you’ll miss the chance to watch girls practice promoting themselves—a skill that boys are otherwise given more permission to develop, and which serves them later on when they negotiate for raises and promotions.

These young selfie-takers are leaning in! They’re posting the first selfie in the morning, the last selfie in the evening, even posting on weekends, putting in those hours, getting that raise. While Simmons is smart to note that the practice of self-promotion on social media is likely useful for a variety of future careers, the selfie inherently centers on looks. This might not be the most productive sort of self-promotion to master. What about praising some witty or heartfelt captions? What about some attempts at poetry, or maybe puns when Instragramming a pretty pile of leaves?

The first selfie Simmons cites, though, is from earlier this week — it was taken by the first four women to finish the Marine infantry combat training. Certainly this photo captures a proud moment, but it’s specifically documenting a fantastic accomplishment. That’s the sort that deserves a selfie gold star.

Selfies: Just Signs of Healthy Teen Confidence?