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The subversive selfie: Redefining the mediated subject

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This article approaches the selfie debate through questioning the more simplistic view that the selfie is an effect of narcissism and consumption and instead argues that it can be a shared and transformative practice. Drawing from focus group discussions and using the critical thinking of Levinas, Foucault, Butler and Irigaray, I explore the face and the continuous formation of the subject by basing these arguments on the theoretical dismissal of the domination of a (western) autonomous subject-centred philosophy in favour of the Other, striving towards the expressions of the self as vulnerable, rather than self-absorbed. Furthermore, I discuss the selfie from a feminist viewpoint, where this type of media participation creates a potential space for an alternative female experience to emerge. I argue that the selfie opens up for an ability to mimic and play with social roles, pointing towards potential subversion through awareness and agency, rather than self-objectification. Thus, this article concludes with a recontextualization of the selfie as a sensory, communicative and political practice and experience.
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Keywords: Internet; digital images; feminism; social media; technology; the face; the gaze; the self

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Fashion Studies, Stockholm University

Publication date: 01 December 2014

More about this publication?
  • We all wear clothes. We are all therefore invested at some level in the production and consumption of clothing. This journal intends to embrace issues and themes that are both universal and personal, addressing [and dressing] us all. Increasingly, as we all become accomplished semioticians, clothing becomes the key signifier in determining social interaction and behaviour, and sartorial norms dictate socio-cultural appropriateness. Following the rise of fashion theory, on an everyday level, we all understand that our clothes 'say' something about us, about our times, nation, system of values. Yet clothing is not fashion; clothing is a term derivative from 'cloth', to cover the body, whereas fashion alludes to the glamorous, the ephemeral and the avant garde. We wear clothes, but imagine fashion-an unattainable ideal.
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