Family

7 things that'll change your mind if you hate selfies.

The world wants you to feel ashamed. Don't.

7 things that'll change your mind if you hate selfies.

Centuries ago, artists would take weeks, months, or even years to create the perfect self-portrait. Today, it takes just seconds.

What was once a painstaking process is now accessible to anyone with a cellphone.

Yes, I'm talking about the "selfie."


Depending on who you ask, selfies are either the best thing since sliced bread or a pox on society, emblematic of deep narcissism.

Golfer Sierra Brooks takes a selfie with her teammates Amy Lee, Andrea Lee, Kristen Gillman, Bethany Wu, and Hannah O'Sullivan during a practice round at the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup. Photo via Getty Images.

It's odd, really — there are few things as harmless as a photo taken of yourself.

Here are seven reasons to shrug off the haters and love your selfie:

1. Love your selfie to give your self-esteem a little boost.

This one seems kind of obvious, right? Even better, it's backed up by data: A 2014 survey of teenage girls found that 65% of respondents felt that taking selfies and posting them to social media helped boost their confidence and body image. Boom!

What an awesome win for selfie-steem.

Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot horse race meet. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

2. Love your selfie to take control in the way you choose to present yourself to the world.

We all know that feeling, after a night out with friends, when we find ourselves tagged in all sorts of unflattering pictures on Facebook. It's certainly not fun.

Selfies are basically the opposite of that, helping us show our best selves to the world (even if that best self has the help of some filters, creative angles, or lighting tricks).

You've got every right to control your own self image. Own it!

Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o, Angelina Jolie, and Peter Nyong'o Jr. during the 86th Academy Awards in 2014. Photo by Ellen DeGeneres/Twitter via Getty Images.

3. Love your selfie to send a message to the world about your unique life experiences.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you have something important to say, why not say it with a selfie?


Christi Salcedo is a breast cancer survivor who, as the result of a double mastectomy, found herself under increased scrutiny when using public restrooms because people thought she was transgender (she's not).

Her image, "This is breast cancer," earned more than 18,000 Likes and was shared nearly 6,700 times on Facebook.

4. Love your selfie to document an important moment in your life.

Sometimes you just want to tell the world: "Hey, look at this awesome thing I did! I'm really proud of it!" There's nothing wrong with feeling some pride in your accomplishments or experiences, and anyone who tells you different is, well, wrong.

Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and director Alejandro González Iñárritu, all winners for "The Revenant," take a selfie onstage during the 88th Academy Awards in 2016. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst documented an important moment in his life with a selfie during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station in 2014. Photo by Alexander Gerst/ESA via Getty Images.

5. Love your selfie to defy society's expectations.

Society conditions us to feel ashamed of ourselves, to find flaws in our appearances to obsess over. Whether we're looking at the cover of a magazine or watching TV, we're being bombarded with these messages on repeat. But what if we all just stopped caring? What if we found a way to say, "Look at me. I like myself for who I am."

Selfies are a pretty great tool for pushing back on societal standards. When your friends share their selfies, get excited for them! Their selfies mean they're feeling themselves, and in a world that constantly tells us to hate our appearances, those are moments worth celebrating!

Actress Rumer Willis takes a selfie at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in 2015. Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Samsung.

6. Love your selfie to show you can have fun alone or in a group.

Having a good time going solo and want to share that with the world? There's no better way to document it than with a selfie. The same goes for fun times with friends. Creating memories and sharing them with the world is a pretty wonderful thing.

Plus, in a selfie, everyone gets to be in the shot instead of having to trust a stranger to hold your cellphone and take a photo for you, or awkwardly asking your least-favorite friend to take the photo.

Tennis star Andy Murray with more than 350 ball kids before the 2016 Australian Open. Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images.

7. Love your selfie because you can.

This may be the most important reason of all. You should love your selfie (and, by extension, yourself) because you can — because you don't exist to please other people or to play by society's rules.

You don't need anyone's permission to feel good about yourself, and that's reason enough to celebrate.

A woman takes a selfie in front of a multi-colored sheep installation for the 2015 Chinese New Year at a shopping mall in Hong Kong. Photo by Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images.

So go ahead — share that photo you snapped on your way to work today or out last night with friends. Love yourself and your selfie.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
True

In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."