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But First, Let Me Take a Selfie
By: Jennifer Graber
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Ah, the infamous social media habit — the selfie. It is how we document our lives. It is the quintessential response to “pics or it didn’t happen.” The proliferation of the selfie can often be seen as cringe-worthy. So when someone says they took a selfie every single day for six and a half years, you can just imagine the exasperated sighs. But just wait a minute before you roll your eyes and respond with sarcasm. Rebecca Brown, a young British woman, took a photograph of herself every day from the age of 14 until the age of 21. Brown’s photos became the ultimate collection of selfies, and all for a pretty good reason.
 
Brown suffers from trichotillomania, which is a disorder that causes her to pull out her hair when she experiences anxiety. Brown also has a disorder that causes her to compulsively pick at her skin, known as dermatillomania. And so, the everyday selfies were a means to document her journey through her illnesses in a powerful and visual way.
 
Within recent weeks Brown compiled the selfies, from 2007 to currently, into a moving video that was posted on YouTube. The video shows the collection of selfies that depict a range of life events for Brown. Brown’s video shows happier times like adventures and getting into film school. And she also notes the more gloomy times like family deaths, her diagnosis of depression, and being suicidal. You see smiles and tears, and it was important for Brown to show all of that. For her, life goes far beyond her illnesses, and she wants people to know that “people are more than their conditions.”
 
It seems as if Brown’s goal was to bring awareness and support to trichotillomania, dermatillomania, and similar conditions. And she did just that. Brown’s video went viral in a short amount of time. Her video has been viewed over 4.3 million times on YouTube. That is probably a much larger result than she even imagined.
 
Brown’s video was an inspiring, real look into the life of someone who openly acknowledges the ongoing struggles and happiness. For Brown, and many others, it is a daily battle. And she is incredibly brave for sharing a glimpse into a piece of her journey in a medium where people can be harsh critics. After all, it is no surprise that social media can be cruel, and often the source or trigger for anxiety. More people need to take to social media to share their stories without fear of teasing or criticism. Why can’t social media be a source of support? Why can’t social media be a place for inspiration and changing the way we see the world? There is no reason why social media can’t be and do these things. It can be a medium in which we not only share that we had a burrito for lunch, but also that we suffer from a condition or support a certain cause.
 
For you more information about trichotillomania, and other similar disorders, you can visit trich.org.


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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