In the age of Instagram and Snapchat, what is a person who escapes from any sign of a camera supposed to do? For those of you who know me well, you know that the second someone wants to snap a picture of me I instantly try to find a way to hide. If there is nowhere to go, my face freezes or turns into something random and awfully silly.
This is me taking a selfie where I purposely cut off half my face.
This is the college yearbook picture from 1997 I chose to use instead of choosing one from a pile of more “normal” close ups. Why I did this? Who knows…
It started early. That’s me hiding behind two of my closest pals.
Using my puppy as camouflage.
If you haven’t already seen photographer Mikael Theimer’s series of images of his girlfriend’s strategic ways to hide from the camera it is definitely worth a look. I can definitely empathize with her.
I don’t know what I would do if I grew up during a time when sharing pictures was as much a part of everyday life as eating. But even more, I worry about how it will affect my daughter.
Instead of diving into the societal pressures and harassment girls are facing in this age of instant sharing and cyber bullying, I want to use this space to be positive and discuss 5 ways in which image sharing platforms can be used to empower women and girls.
Women and girls can harness the medium to send powerful messages and stories. Take a look at what the United Nations and Snapchat did with their “Live Story” feature on International Women’s Day.
Stop harassment. Women are starting to take pictures and videos of their harassers creating a movement. Hollaback is trying to stop harassers in their tracks by allowing users to easily document, map and share instances of harassment.
Empower female entrepreneurs. Social media and image sharing plays a huge role in creating thriving women-owned businesses. Lifestyle blogger and entrepreneur Joy Cho of Oh Joy is a wonderful example how a female blogger and entrepreneur can harness the power of imagery to write a blog and fill up the aisles of Target with her whimsical brand.
There is a movement to share more images of women who are accomplishing big things as well as men taking on roles that are traditionally seen as female. Seeing images of female astronauts, CEOs and engineers as well as male stay-at-home dads, teachers and nurses can only inspire our girls to think big and see the world as a place full of opportunities that are not divided into either a man or woman’s world. Check out 28 badass women you should be following on Instagram. In order for real change to happen, we shouldn’t forget to share these stories and images with boys too!
Women’s rights activists in closed societies are using the platform Movements to share stories and images to connect with those who can help like lawyers and journalists. I worked on the user experience for their upcoming redesign and believe that instantly capturing images and sharing them is a powerful tool within the human rights context especially for those with little to no access to the outside world.
I don’t think I will ever become more comfortable with the camera but I do want to continue supporting technology and image sharing platforms that are being used to empower women and girls.