The Celebration of The Beautiful

Last year, in my final year in high school, I successfully became a part of our school paper, being a contributor. I wrote much pieces enough for the people in-charge to include or exclude. The next year, I finally had a copy of the paper in my hands, and I found my name on print on the features section. That was already a success to me.

And in this blessed day the Lord gave to me, and to my family in year 1997, let the following piece be my offering to you, dear reader. Compared to the piece on print, this is an updated edition.

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Models aren't only the ones with lots of pictures. Even the youth of today, especially our modern-day Filipinas, have lots of them, even tons and tons of them. They're lucky they don't have to use film after film. Thanks to digital camera—no, wait—to touchscreen cellphones, anyone can picture anything, anytime, and anywhere more efficiently. And what do we get? Multitudes of photos uploaded in social media and liked by much people. These photos even accumulate more than a hundred likes.

Selfies. That's the word. That is our trending topic here. The self-portraits of people taken by themselves, then shared on social media. Some are added with effects, and some are compiled in albums. Selfies are one of the latest use of cameras and one of the fads in today's online generation. It even found it's place in common language as it was included in the Oxford English Dictionary this year, and in Time magazine's "top 10 buzzwords" in 2012.

I have never seen in my life before the large use of cameras—or camera in cellphones—for a collection of self-portraits. We have such self-portraits before, in 1x1 photos and childhood photos from film, and in case of people like Vincent van Gogh, on canvas. But I have sensed only today that personal picture taking has gone very viral on social media.

The trend

Why is it so? Why is it that selfies have become large scale? It starts on people, they who surf the Net every now and then, eat and shop in different places, or simply bored in their homes. We can trace selfie's roots from 1900s, when portable Kodak box cameras existed before digital ones. You need to position yourself in a mirror and stabilize the camera first before we take a picture of ourselves. A Russian Grand Duchess named Anastasia Nikolaevna, just did that when she was 13 years old.

Fast forward to 2000's, self-taken photographs started to become rampant in MySpace, a social networking site. Facebook followed, then Twitter. Photos, especially self-portraits and profile pics (or what you call DP), therefore, appear on our News Feeds, whenever there is an occasion or not.

Now, with picture-centered sites like Instagram and the growth in use of smartphones and touchscreen cellphones, there's no wonder anyone can be his/her own photographer. Only today, in our time of advancement in technology, that selfies become largely popular.

The 'selfie-sh'

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There is nothing wrong about taking pictures by yourself. We all have our right to self-expression. However, I'm just afraid, after hearing the first syllable of selfie, that you might become obsessed of yourself. I hope it won't be that way, because that's what we call vanity. I hope I don't appear to be an emotional terrorist, but "vanity kills, it don't pay bills," says the 80's New Wave band ABC.

Taking a selfie in vain is useless and futile. Too much pride on one's self is selfish. It's dangerous to your health, like huffing a cigarette. Let me tell you, friend: you are not your own. You are God's beautiful creation, yet you were "bought with a price" so that you can still live right now. I hope you'll recognize that further, because He loves you so much.

Another downside of selfies is that it can may lower yourself when you shouldn't. You are prone to degrade yourself in comparison with others when you can appreciate the fact that you are "wonderfully made" by God as you are.

Worse than those is what teenager Olympia Nelson have seen in selfies, something I fear might be the same thing we'll see on our computer screens. I fear that selfies might turn out to be sexualized, unnecessarily showing off skin or more than it, just to gain likes from others. In other words, pornographic.

Nelson, in her column in a newspaper in Australia, has seen that teen girls tend to be vain at the extent of pouting and posing in sexually suggestive manners with their selfies, "showing how much they like themselves and hoping that you'll hit ''like'' to reinforce the claim". It seems to me that a new and destructing form of vanity was just birthed. Please, never ever do that. Don't sacrifice dignity just to get liked. It's disgusting. We may sing "your body is wonderland", but to indecently expose it equates to being robbed out of self-respect.

The good side

Indeed, like the economic systems I've read in my Economics book, selfies have its side effects or killing tendencies. But there is this one thing that I see as the good thing about selfies. And that is what I call the celebration of the beautiful. I have observed that selfies, and even groupies, portray a person's positivity and joy, and can make someone proud of God, that He gave the beauty s/he possesses in him/her which He knows will perfectly fit in him/her.

It is a statement of how amazing God is. It is the portrait telling us and to whom it may concern, "I look good just the way I am, with this simple face made brilliant by God."

The real beauty

I want to tell you, nevertheless, that there is something more important than face value. That is the heart. That's why I told here that vanity is dangerous. Look closely at what the Lord says: "'For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'" (1 Sam. 16:7, New International Version of the Holy Bible)

As much as it depends on you, celebrate the beautiful as you click your camera phone, yet remember that a clean heart and a good character reveals true beauty, and that honors the One who created you. Never forget that in God's eyes, you are already beautiful as you are.

Postscript: Perhaps that's why I didn't get into selfies (just twice). I prefer someone to picture me, for the purpose of being the picture on the "About The Author" of a book.

Picture credit: Seasons of Love and War (Author Page) on Facebook

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