Our Selfie Culture Needs Fertility Awareness

Our Selfie Culture

What would you think if you found out one of your friends spends five hours a week staring at her face?

If you are a woman between the ages of 16 and 25, that friend is probably you. Thank you, selfie culture.

Collectively, our selfie culture devotes millions of hours to taking pictures of ourselves. We preserve moments, ranging from the mundane to the breathtaking, to remember special times, document intriguing scenes, communicate with friends, and sometimes just because we are bored. Let’s also not forget about how much we Photoshop. Regarding selfies, Photoshopping is often just a fancy way of saying that we spend millions of hours “fixing” what we think is wrong with what we see. Studies report that the average millennial takes six selfies a day.[1] This is actually a misleading statistic because these six pictures represent the dozens (if not hundreds) of versions of those pictures taken and immediately discarded in the pursuit of those perfect six.

I’m thankful for the ability to take pictures with ease. Life is beautiful and it’s powerful to be able to capture both the joy and the pain. Yes, taking selfies can even be a form of art.[2] That said, the selfie phenomenon has a dark side. While stress about beauty is an age-old problem, our focus on what we look like is stronger than ever. Even if you are completely comfortable with yourself, do you think it would be possible to look at yourself for five hours without having any negative thoughts? Could you resist the temptation to compare yourself to someone else? Would you be able to look at your face for that long and not wish you could change something?

It’s hardly surprising, then, that experts call millenials “the anxious generation.” Of course, it would be ridiculous to identify the selfie phenomenon as the sole source of this anxiety. (An article that attempted to address all of the causes of the anxiety in our culture would be a never-ending saga…) Nevertheless, it’s interesting to consider how selfies contribute to the anxiety epidemic. There’s a reason why the selfie-stick, a contraption that allows the user to hold their smart phone further away from themselves to take a picture at a more ideal angle, is popularly referred to as the “narcisstick.”[3] Taking endless photos of ourselves can’t help but lead us towards identifying by our physical appearance.

Although we aren’t going to end the selfie phenomenon anytime soon, there is a way to alleviate some of the anxiety and narcissism that plagues us. It’s time to teach our selfie culture about Fertility Awareness.

Our Selfie Culture Needs Fertility Awareness

What in the world does Fertility Awareness have to do with our selfie culture? Well, first off, what in the world is Fertility Awareness?
Fertility Awareness (also called “Fertility Appreciation” and related to Natural Family Planning) is a movement that encourages people to learn about their bodies and how they work, specifically with regards to their fertility.[4]   It’s shocking when you realize how many misconceptions about fertility health are floating around our society. We deserve to know how our bodies operate and to understand the changes our bodies experience on a daily basis.

Fertility charting is an essential part of the Fertility Awareness movement. Charting refers to recording the daily biological observations of your body. This information can be used to diagnose a disease, improve general health, and avoid or achieve pregnancy.[5] Additionally, this information about our physical health can often serve as a clue to understanding our emotional and mental health. I have witnessed fertility charting help women heal body image issues, manage stress, and mend broken spirits.[6] We should think of our fertility charts as our biological diaries. Biological diaries are a fundamental part of our life stories, and we can’t read them unless we first learn how to write them.

Focusing Our Selfie Culture Inwards
Our selfie culture needs fertility awareness because we need to supplement our endless timeline of photos with our biological diaries. It’s fun to remember the cute dress you wore to brunch, but it’s life-changing to know how that body of yours underneath that dress works. It’s not wrong to think about our physical appearance, but it’s damaging if our thoughts stop there. Physical beauty is not limited to physical appearance.

Learning about how our fertility works empowers us to focus on what our bodies do rather than what they look like. Our selfie culture struggles with narcissism and anxiety because we have no idea just how beautiful we actually are. Fertility Awareness is a movement that tackles some incredibly intimate topics, including sex, infertility, natural bodily fluids, relationship dynamics, body image, babies, and health concerns. At the very heart of Fertility Awareness is perhaps the most intimate topic of all: our identity.

We deserve to know the people in our selfies.

[1] http://www.ibtimes.com/millennials-selfies-young-adults-will-take-more-25000-pictures-themselves-during-2108417
[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/sunday-review/my-selfie-myself.html
[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/sunday-review/my-selfie-myself.html
[4] You might also hear the terms “Fertility Awareness-Based Methods” or “FABMs.”  Sometimes people use these terms to refer to the specific family planning methods that utilize fertility observations.
[5] http://verilymag.com/2016/04/menstrual-cycle-fertility-awareness-ovulation-chart-hormonal-imbalance
[6] https://bodylanguagelife.com/2016/02/09/charting-her-way-to-self-love/

Molly Daley

Molly Daley

Molly exchanged a traditional law career for an adventure in promoting Fertility Awareness. She lives in Maryland with her superman husband Nick and believes in the power of prayer and home-cooked food. Molly is a Client Advocate at Pregnancy Center North, a teacher for Teen STAR USA, a speaker for FACTS, and the founder of Body Language (www.bodylanguagelife.com).
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