We’ve all done it — snapped a quick pic of ourselves looking our best, hoping for some positive feedback from our Facebook friends or Instagram followers.
The word “selfie” was just declared “Word of the Year” by Oxford Dictionaries and was added to the online Oxford Dictionary in August.
Some selfie’s are cute and some are funny, while others unabashedly scream, “I’m sure looking gorgeous today, don’t you think?”
Truth be told, I’ve never been comfortable taking pictures of myself — serious ones, that is — alone, and posting them on social media. Whenever I see a selfie, I always imagine the person holding his or her phone out in front of them, trying to get the perfect angle, and then spending an additional five minutes coming up with a clever phrase and cool filter.
Have you ever watched someone in the process of snapping a selfie? That’ll put a smile on your face. In fact, it may suddenly prompt you to take a selfie of yourself watching that person taking a selfie of themselves.
But could selfie’s actually be another way of bullying?
There are lots of women who seem to think so.
Recently, there was a huge online outrage over Norwegian fitness blogger Caroline Berg Eriksen, wife of Premier League player Lars-Kristian Eriksen, after she posted a selfie on Instagram just days after giving birth to her baby girl. The picture is of Eriksen in a bikini, proudly displaying completely flat, toned abs and skinny arms and legs with nary an unwanted pound on her post-pregnancy bod except for her newly blossomed bosom.
Eriksen insists she posted the selfie with good intentions.
“I let out the picture because I'm proud of myself and my body for something as tough as a pregnancy/birth, and I think all mothers, regardless of the body shall be,” she said on her Facebook page.
But thousands of shocked and — dare I say, jealous? — women grabbed their keyboards, fingers flying, and gave this gorgeous woman a piece of their mind. Some have called it “wildly provocative,” wondering if she “even belonged to the same species” as “normal” women who maybe carry a couple of extra pounds for a couple of extra years. (I’m speaking of myself here.)
“Perfect ?” One commenter wrote. “Except for the stretch marks.”
But others have applauded her, saying she did no wrong.
“Fair play to her! If I looked like that 4 days after giving birth I’d walk the streets in my underwear!” one comment read.
Being a fitness blogger, and having a smaller frame and good genes probably all played a role in this woman looking like she never gave birth.
Another health-conscious mom who received negative media attention after posting a picture of her bikini-clad bod is fitness mom Maria Kang.
Kang’s shot was more “attack mode,” I guess you could say. Posing with her three sons, ages 3, 2 and eight months, the caption read, “What’s Your Excuse?”
Kang’s Facebook page was slammed with hateful comments, some even going as far as to say she was a bad mother and that she should spend more time focusing on her kids, instead of her rock-hard abs.
“You are a bully with a super inflated sense of your own self,” one comment read.
But, like Eriksen, Kang insists her post was not meant to bully other women.
I’ve never understood why curvier woman can post pictures of their beautiful bodies and be celebrated, but when skinnier women do, they are suddenly “showing off” or, as one angry woman stated on Kang’s Facebook page, contributing to “the body shaming problem that is going on in North America and other parts of the world.”
Since when is being fit “body-shaming?”
"Demonstrating possibilities in one’s personal health should not be defined as promoting bullying, fat shaming or gloating,” Kang said on TIME online.
“Being called a bad mother and a bad person definitely hurts,” she said in an interview with Yahoo Shine.
Kang even commented on Eriksen's post-baby bod by posting a picture of herself on Facebook one week after giving birth and pasting it side-by-side with Eriksen's.
"That's incredible," she said of Eriksen's slim silhouette, "but for those who are like me, it takes 9 months to build my belly and it took me nearly the same amount of time to get it back to where I wanted it...don't be hard on yourself. Life changes when you have a child making prioritizing your fitness more difficult."
I believe there is a difference between having a healthy body — and healthy body image — and having an unhealthy body or body image. I know some girls who are “bigger” but incredibly healthy, who work out around two hours at the gym every single day. I also know girls who are skinny, but eat incredibly unhealthy food, and never get their heart rate up. Being skinny doesn’t mean you are a prettier, healthier or a more fit human being, just as it doesn’t mean you are bratty, self-obsessive, or vain, either.
I think we should celebrate all women for who they are, and I firmly believe that when you are serving others (moms go to the top of the list here) and working on your spiritual well-being, that you radiate light. That light shines in your face and from your personality and transforms you. It makes you beautiful. Physically. It really, truly does.
But I also truly believe that when you take care of yourself and take time to exercise and eat right so you can be at your best emotionally, mentally and spiritually, then you are doing yourself — your whole self — a lot of good. It’s OK to take care of your body. Crucial even. The problem lies in making your body a point of obsession or source of depression.
Are you up for a challenge? Next time you see a selfie of someone you maybe have envious feelings toward, or compare yourself to, or have a hard time liking, say something nice.
Who knows? Maybe, despite the “fake” or “perfect” looking façade, they need your kindness.
If you want, you can start with mine. (Yes, I’m in my jammie-jams.)
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.
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