4 reasons why taking pictures of yourself (even 25,000 of them) isn't as silly as it sounds.

What could you do with 54 hours?

Go ahead. I'll give you a minute to think.



GIF via "New Girl."

OK. Time's up. Here's what I bet you didn't say: Take pictures of yourself.

But a new survey estimates that's how exactly how much time a young adult will spend taking selfies in one year.

The report by Luster Premium White, a tooth whitening brand (because who else?), revealed that its participants took an average of nine selfies a week, investing seven minutes of their time per photo.

If that number doesn't shock you, maybe this one will: It's estimated that these young adults will take more than 25,000 pictures of themselves in their lifetime.

25,700 to be exact.

To be fair, the survey only included responses from 1,000 young adults, so broader assumptions about all millennials should be made cautiously. But stats like that are probably one of the reasons that millennials have such a bad rep when it comes to the iPhone self-portraits.

The truth is, parents — or anyone who doesn't take that many pictures of themselves — just don't understand.

GIF via "Parents Just Don't Understand"

But are selfies really a sign of unprecedented narcissism? Or are they no more than a harmless — or even potentially positive — photography trend?

We actually don't know.


GIF via "The Office."

The truth is that there isn't a lot of research on selfies and narcissism. A few studies hint at a slight correlation, but there are way too many variables and not enough research to be sure.

So, because the verdict is out, I choose to be a selfie optimist. And here's why.

First of all, there's nothing new about us wanting to take pictures of ourselves. Since the first human scratched a self-portrait on a cave wall, we've been infatuated with how we look.

And secondly, there are actually a few positive benefits of the "almighty selfie."

Here are four legitimate things that you can say to yourself the next time you scroll past 20 duck face pics:

1. Selfies can provide self-affirmation and identity.

Selfies can help construct our sense of self, particularly during crucial ages (aka the teen years) or during crucial times in our lives (major life changes, major body changes, etc.). So it makes sense that 65% of the teenage girls surveyed in the TODAY/AOL Ideal to Real Body Image Survey said that seeing their selfies on social media actually boosts their confidence.

Being able to look at yourself and say "This is who I am and this is what I look like and that's OK" is an incredibly helpful part of building an identity that is secure and self-defined.


Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty.

2. Selfies give people a chance to feel in control of the way they present themselves to the world.

Back in the day, your ability to take a "beautiful picture" (as in, a picture in which you, as the subject, feel beautiful) was often in someone else's hands, like that Olan Mills school photographer, who clearly didn't care about finding your best angle.

Today, the stakes are even higher. In a world where anyone can whip out a camera and take a cell phone picture of any one of us without our awareness (let alone our consent) and broadcast it to thousands of people on the Internet, selfies let us decide when, where, and most importantly how we want to be seen.

40% of the teens in the Today/AOL Body Image Survey said social media helps them "present [their] best face to the world." Psychologists call this power self-efficacy — the idea that we have control over our own world. That's incredibly important for any human, but especially for growing teens.

3. Selfies can be an empowering and accessible way to showcase a wide diversity of beauty.

Where once upon a time, we had to rely on what the mainstream media determined to be beautiful or acceptable for thousands of people to see, thanks to selfies and social media, we can now find beautiful images of people in all shapes, ages, colors, and sizes at our fingertips.

Now every single one of us with a smartphone has the power to show the world what makes us feel beautiful and gives us all a chance to be seen that way in a world that has historically reserved that adjective only for people who look a certain way.

Photo via iStock.

4. Selfies can help with human connection. Yes, really.

So much human connection happens digitally nowadays. What better way to share yourself with the people who you usually only communicate with through a keyboard than with a picture of your face?

In fact, people sharing selfies of themselves in real time during major world and cultural events (like what happened recently using Snapchat during Ramadan in Mecca) is changing how we learn about and experience the world around us. For an American teenager sitting in his or her bedroom to be able to see firsthand what teenagers in Mecca are seeing and to see how similar those teenagers are to themselves is a hugely profound connection that we wouldn't have without selfie culture.

Even if those reasons don't encourage you to run outside right now, find the best lighting you can, and stage an impromptu photo shoot, they should at the very least allow you to look at the selfie-trend with a bit of balance and moderation. Selfies became a global phenomenon for a reason: our very human, very normal desire to see ourselves as others might see us. 54 hours of that may not be the end of the world.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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