Can You Empower a Selfie?


Is a selfie a vanity exercise or a form of beauty empowerment? Seeking to investigate the relationship between beauty and social media, Dove has created a new documentary short, entitled Selfie.

Directed by Academy Award-nominated director Cynthia Wade (Mondays With Racine), Dove debuted the film at Sundance. "You have the power to change and re-define what beauty is. The power is in your hands. Because now, more than ever, it's in your fingertips. You can take selfies," Michael Crook, a professional photographer, tells a group of high-school girls in the film, amid titters. Crook then encourages the girls to take selfies, sharing the physical aspects of themselves that they find most vulnerable.

In a rose-tinted ending (spoiler alert!), the film closes with the girls "liking" each other's selfies, with positive Post-its celebrating many of the same physical aspects the girls found uncomfortable. "Strong arms" and "confident smiles" are praised. With its earnestness, Dove's campaigns exploring beauty are often ripe for some well-meaning parody. But does this latest iteration of the film challenge the idea of "real" beauty, or aid in repositioning selfies as something other than a form of beauty self-portraiture that still yearns for likes and acceptance? A skeptic wonders if these girls would have felt quite so confident and sure of their vulnerable selfies had no one "liked" their photos at all. Watch the film above and see for yourself.