A new social media campaign is trying to reinvent the selfie with a more honest and limitless approach.
My True Selfie seeks to end body image and self-esteem issues, as well as the bullying that is often tied in with what we view as physical shortcomings.
The idea behind the campaign comes from Thomas Knights, who set up a workshop at an Anti-bullying event. The feedback was so great that he and Deputy Head Teacher Simon Brooks went about turning it into its own project.
Thomas told UNILAD how it all started:
I was asked by The Diana Award, a charity I had been supporting for a number of years via my Red Hot campaign, to come up with a photography based workshop for young people, that would make them think about their online image.
I thought about it for a long time and eventually decided to do something constructive with the selfie.
Most people have a camera on their phone so I figured using their phones would require no extra resources and selfie culture would feel relevant to them.
The idea for the workshop was to draw an outline of your head on a piece of paper and write words around it that describe who you truly are on the inside, then stick it up on the wall, and take a selfie in front of it, so those words appear around your head.
It went down really well, so I got my best friend Simon Brooks involved, he is a primary school deputy head teacher and I figured his experience working with children would be invaluable to help develop the idea and take it further.
Simon, who has been an assistant head teacher at an inner city school in Nottingham for two years, said Thomas wanted an ‘educational perspective’ on some of his ideas.
We ran the first MyTrueSelfie workshop at the Emirates Stadium in London at the annual anti-bullying event run by the Diana Award.
The event was a huge success and I immediately recognised the impact this concept could have on the social and emotional wellbeing of young people.
Thomas believes that selfie culture and social media have created an untrue realistic view of other people’s lives. That we all put our best foot forward online, leaving out all the ‘real, messy, personal stuff.’
Personally I started to feel super anxious about myself, about my life, my job, my relationships, my body, my face, my hair – the list was endless. The funny thing was everyone I talked to felt the same.
Young people especially are faced with huge challenges online, at a really difficult age where you are finding out about yourself and the world for the first time.
As social media plays an increasingly prominent role in the lives of young people both inside and outside school, Simon believes this increases the pressure on them to conform to perceived ‘norms’.
I can see that young people are beginning to lose their identity as they are less willing to be themselves.
The impact that I have seen from developing and running the MyTrueSelfie workshops in order to address this has been significant.
It gives young people a platform upon which to celebrate their individuality and uniqueness and it creates a real sense of unity and acceptance of others.
It’s important to remember that the rise of social media is something that society as a whole is still coming to terms with.
It’s those who are most vulnerable – such as young people – who have the most to gain but also the most to lose from increased exposure to a rapidly evolving world, so projects such as Simon’s are only going to become more important.
You can get involved with all things MyTrueSelfie on their website.