My Beautiful Selfie project promotes self-love and self-confidence

Selfies, described as photographical self-portraits, took the world by storm last year and was even named Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year. In a Dove video titled Redefining Beauty, mothers and daughters change the way they view beauty through an unlikely medium, selfies.

A mother herself, Laura Goyer from Vienna, Va., started a project that aims to help teenage girls and their mothers embrace their natural beauty. She calls it the My Beautiful Selfie project and hopes that it projects how selfies can be used as a tool promoting self-love and self-confidence.

Inspired by the Dove video, the My Beautiful Selfie project works with local women -- both mothers and daughters -- to create an exhibit featuring happy and untouched selfies.

The show, scheduled to debut the day before Mother’s Day, will allow visitors to walk around with pen and sticky notes in hand and write compliments, positive affirmations, highlighting the unique characteristics that make each girl and her selfie beautiful.

Dane Charneco, psychologist at James Madison High School, stresses the importance of the exhibit environment.

“It is great to see the girls feeling empowered by their selfies. It is helpful that it is being done in a more controlled setting like an art show where positive feedback is encouraged,” Charneco said.

Goyer said the essence of the project originated from memories of her mother who passed away at age 55 from cancer.

“[My mother] always wanted to look perfect in her pictures, and I only have a handful of photographs of her. So I have her at her best, but I don’t really have anything that portrays her ordinary day-to-day life,” Goyer said. “In light of not being able to converse with her, I want a better sense of what her everyday life was like.”

For Goyer, the perfect selfie encompasses the same natural excitement and spontaneity as a group of friends piling into an old-fashioned photo booth.

“I want people to show that joy to the world and not be self-conscious about how they need mascara on their eyes or think gosh, my hair looks crazy.”

Social media can permanently, and instantly, document people’s everyday moments. Goyer wants younger generations to know that their selfies will remain on the Internet indefinitely.

“When you compare all of these girls and women that are beautiful -- sometimes dressed in their sweats and sometimes looking their best -- they are flooding the media, their friendships, and their social networks with all of these images. They have the capacity to really change what people perceive beauty is because of the volume,” Goyer said.

And what does beauty really mean?

For Goyer, that’s an easy question. “Confidence. Smiling. Bright eyes. Curious. Friendly.”

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