Post image for The Selfie as a Means of Social Change and Female Empowerment

A self-professed observer of selfie culture, Lianna Pisani gave a talk at this year’s Canadian Communication Association in which she argued that the Internet has given the selfie a bad name.

The presentation, entitled “Women and Selfie Culture: the Selfie as a Feminist Communication Tool,” argued that more than only a narcissistic tool to share their likeness online many women have adopted the selfie as a means to promote social change and challenge the boundaries and social and culture norms enforced on them.

In what Pisani has dubbed “the feminist selfie” she has found women across the globe using selfies to challenge boundaries of accepted female appearance and public behavior by culture and/or locale, promote causes they believe in, share knowledge of important female health concerns, fight the stigmatization of the female breast, and monetize the selfie as a means of empowering themselves.

In an interview with the National Post Pisani compared selfie culture to the feminist art movement of the 1970s:

“Not all selfies are feminist, but those that are visually highlight or challenge an issue women face. The fact that so many take selfies represents feminism, in my opinion, because it highlights how women are using this technology to explore a self-representation that is reminiscent of the feminist art movement of the 1970s.”

While we can certainly debate about the percentage of selfies used in such a manner (as opposed to simply showing off a new purchase, diet or exercise routine, vacation spot, hairstyle, time with family and friends, or the number of other ways in which selfies are used), Pisani does make a strong argument that the social media form is good for more than some would like to admit.

images via Instagram, Twitter



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