Some public figures have commented disparagingly about selfies. They simply don’t understand why people might want to take self portrait photos. I have been teased by friends who look at my Instagram profile page and see the range of selfies that I have taken over the last couple of years. They accuse me of being vain. I guess there must be a part of me that is self regarding in the way that they have suggested, but there are other reasons why I take regular photos of myself.
As a child, growing up surrounded by people who looked different to me, I didn’t have a problem with being dark skinned, but there were very few images of other Black people in the media in those days. On television, I remember seeing Diahann Caroll in the TV series – Julia, Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) and occasionally Diana Ross and the Supremes. It seemed as if there was something odd about having a Black skin, because Black folks were rarely in the public eye.
Considering matters from this angle, it makes sense that public figures with some element of African ancestry, such as Michael Jackson, Prince, etc were almost apologetic about their natural looks when they stepped into the limelight in more recent times. I find it difficult to understand the signals coming from a Black woman who constantly bleaches her hair, but currently wants to be perceived as a voice of Black integrity.
So, the times have changed and everyone has the agency to post their images in the public domain. It feels like an affirmation of my presence, to take regular photos of myself and post them on Instagram. I enjoy the fact that I can do that and make no excuses or apologies for my natural attributes, for better or worse.
Maybe future generations will feel less inclined towards taking selfies, but it is significant that many of us want to do so at present.