Selfies are a relatively new phenomenon in the world of social media culture, and include many varieties. There are at least 15 different types of selfies according to an article called “15 Selfie Trends That Need To Stop.” One such trend that ranks in at number 12 is the divorce selfie.
While Tiidenberg and Cruz (2015) look at NSFW selfies of the female body as empowering, they touch on Senft’s definition of empowerment who believes ‘full’ empowerment occurs when a person has the ability to make meaningful choices, act on those choices, and utilise resources to enforce their actions outwardly (pg. 83).
Are these new divorce selfies some sort of empowerment selfie that both members of the former marriage use to feel in control? I believe that these selfies do act as forms of empowerment that fulfil Senft’s conditions in that:
- The individuals concerned in these selfies have both made a meaningful choice to alter their status through divorce
- The individuals have acted on their choice and divorced each other
- The individuals have utilised social networking services as a resource to enforce their act of divorce
Another element to consider is whether these selfies express authentic feelings. Lobinger and Brantner (2015) look at “expressive authenticity” when they examine various research groups and find that expressive authenticity is achieved when the image captures everyday situations, events, or special moments (pg. 1854). While they looked at authenticity in terms of technical elements, I believe the principle is the same in terms of emotion in that the selfie captures a moment that appears authentic.
But is the moment really empowering and authentic? For some it may well be the case, but for others this might not be the case at all. Nancy Einhart, a divorcee, believes selfies are a visual way of being proud and cannot understand why anyone would be proud of a failed marriage, which is what she believes people who upload divorce selfies appear to be saying about themselves.
Lobinger, K, Brantner, C 2015, In the Eye of the Beholder: Subjective Views on the Authenticity of Selfies, International Journal of Communication, Vol. 9, pp. 1848-1860.
Tiidenberg, K, Cruz, E.G. 2015, Selfies, Image and the Re-making of the Body, Body and Society, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 77-102.