Do Selfies Harm or Enable Young Indian Women? Here’s an Unusual Perspective

Selfies, you might think are the bane of our existence, promoting everything from narcissism to plenty of eye rolls, however, some activists are arguing that selfies encourage young people to take pride in their identity, and gender. Is this a whole new perspective to our world’s selfie culture or just another way to defend toxic social media trends that sell unattainable beauty standards? 

Selfies can be a beautiful mix of struggles and accomplishments

A recent study conducted by Gendering the Smart City, a London-based project, revealed that Indian women especial those living in marginalized areas of the city, also have a right to selfies. Ayona Datta, feminist, and Urban Geographer, along with her team researched the lives of young women living in the city of Delhi. These young women who lived in slum resettlement colonies on the outskirts of the city were asked to send in diary entries of their daily lives to a WhatsApp group; smartphones were given to 11 girls. They could use various forms of entries like texts, photos, videos and even audio, however, it was surprising to see that a majority of the young women were avid self takers and their stories were a beautiful mix of their struggles and accomplishments which were so unlike conventional selfies one sees on popular social media platforms. More importantly, the fact that they were stepping out of their homes in a largely male-dominated city and taking to the streets was wonderful to see.

Smartphones empower women and selfies give an insight into real life too

Selfies until now often connote Instagram influencers with their pouty, filtered and money-making pictures, therefore, who would have thought that selfies could also be a way of bringing to light the lives that are being ignored by conventional media. In India, a majority of women don’t own smartphones, consider those women who don’t live in the city. Moreover, young women are only allowed a cell phone if an older member or a male relative allows them to which is the norm in many areas around the country. Smartphones empower women, they give them the freedom to communicate and express themselves as they please without constant monitoring. It’s a way to celebrate freedom and the fact that they can easily connect with the world is something they find joy in. This research also delved into how many young Indian women don’t have the luxury of privacy and when they d, they treasure it.

Image credit: Gendering the Smart City

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