No less than a dozen times a day I have to utter these words in my classroom,
"Stop taking selfies and do your work."
or occasionally I'll just photobomb them.  #bestteacherever
or I've even considered bringing in one of those duck billed whistles for the next girl that insists on taking a dozen pictures with her best ducky face.

I love my Instagram, but I can make it through several days with out adding any pictures. And the selfies are rare.  Part of me just doesn't get how these kids can't make it through a 45 minute class period without documenting their face.

I thought maybe it was teenage vanity. Or that sense of just wanting someone to like them. Like literally. They brag about their number of likes and followers and I am oh so glad that all I had to worry about in my day was a silly spiral slam book that might get passed around in secret.  These kids are documenting their every second and getting immediate feedback for it. I am even more thankful that there was no such thing as facebook or Instagram to document my less than stellar moments in college.

There is plenty wrong with this way of documenting every little second. Sometimes kids take it to a terrible level with in appropriate photos or see it as a forum to be unkind from the cowardly standpoint of the internet. They do just like the rest of us and compare themselves to everyone else. But. Then I saw the video below on redefining beauty via the selfie (thank you to Dove with best ad campaigns ever)...and had to pause and think that maybe we could learn a few things from these teens.
That maybe there is something to the selfie. Duckfaces and all.

Watch the video and then read my reaction.

As a teenager, I weighed at least 30 lbs less. My forehead didn't wrinkle. My abs were flat. My arms didn't jiggle. And I'm pretty sure my skin glowed. I spent more time on my hair for one day of school, than I usually do now in an entire week. My clothes consisted of much more than yoga pants and khakis. I look at pictures from high school and college and think...who was that skinny girl and why didn't she wear a bikini Every. Single. Day. I like to say that if I had the body I had at 17 with the confidence I have now I might not have worn clothes. Ever. Which would have saved about my entire allowance that I spent on expensive jeans. Instead. I thought my chest was too small. My teeth too yellow. My hair not straight enough. Or curly enough. My hips too big. I thought I had cellulite. My nose questionable. I thought I had too many freckles and that the mole on on my chin needed to go. I wished I could put on eyeliner all smoky and sultry like in the magazines...but just about every time I tried I ended up looking like a raccoon. And I was a girl without too many body issues. I knew plenty of friends who were eating tictacs for lunch, throwing up in the bathroom or working out like Jessica Spano.  I'm sure they had it way worse.

Comparison is still a terrible thing, but I think it might have been just a tad bit better to be comparing myself to real selfies rather than overedited photoshopped pictures in a magazine or movie.

I grew up and never quite learned to embrace all those faults. (like Anne Lammott who named her hips "the girls").  I still dread bathing suit shopping, or anything involving wearing a bathing suit for that matter.  Instead I buy coverups. And creams. And moisturize. And whiten. And add on more miles or count calories when my pants start to get too tight.

When it comes to pictures of myself....I feel awkward and embarrassed. I try to show my best side or smirk so that my teeth don't show or my forehead doesn't look too big and try to avoid pictures below the shoulder. But. Sometimes I catch myself in the rearview mirror and I think that my eyes look really green that day. Or that maybe I like my freckles after all. Or I am wearing a fun hat. And suddenly I want to take a selfie. In the car. Just like every other 16 year girl on the planet. Occasionally I do. Try to choose a flattering filter. Post. Not looking for likes or comments but just liking that version of myself and wanting to put it out there.

My students might be a little vain. And most certainly are off task....but they know something us grown ups don't.
They put themselves out there a dozen times a day.
And the pictures aren't even always good ones.
They might have the worst motives. They might want to be liked. Or want approval. Or to be noticed. But don't we all? That doesn't magically go away when we turn 30. or 40.  My 5 year old beams when told she is pretty and I'd guess it would make most 50 year old's day to hear that as well.
My students might not like their hair that day, or think their smile is a bit crooked.
But they are posting and smiling anyways.
They are showing people who they are. At least on the outside. And that is at least the tiniest of starts.

Recently I have taken a few risks and tried to show a few people I don't know all that well who I really am. It is hard and scary...and just like selfies...the outcome is not always good. Sometimes it isn't well received. Sometimes it isn't all that pretty. Occasionally it reveals just a bit too much. There may not be an Instagram filter for that. And life, like all things posted on the internet, can't be deleted or taken back even when you are afraid it was too much or that maybe my double chin was showing. But, I am going to try to not be embarrassed about that. My too much or my crooked smile.

At sixteen, I doubt many of them really have any true idea about who they are.
but they are trying to figure it out. One picture at a time.

I'm still going to keep up with my "put away your phone" and photobombing routine. But. I think it wouldn't hurt us to take a few selfies ourselves.
To let ourselves to seen.
To let ourselves feel pretty.
To maybe pick a good filter, attempt to show our best sides...but show a few of our faults too because maybe those are just the things that make us who we are.

I will however, never embrace the duckface.