HUNTER female students are turning the social media selfie on its head in an exhibition of cutting edge self portraits.
The 13 girls aged between 12 and 15 years old were selected by their schools to participate in the This Is Me course at Jesmond Neighbourhood Centre, where program co-ordinator Fiona Whitton and photomedia artist Simone Darcy delivered eight sessions on building self confidence and esteem, resilience, healthy relationships and combating unrealistic standards of beauty.
‘‘Mission Australia did a survey last year of the top three issues of concern among young people and they were stress, school and body image,’’ Ms Whitton said.
‘‘We thought that as well as talking about feelings, we could help them to build skills in photomedia – sometimes its easier when you’re doing or being creative to think about how you fit into the world.’’
Ms Darcy guided the girls through how to use Photoshop, make animated GIFS and choose outfits, backgrounds and props to take artistic self portraits with different themes including what they wanted to be when they were older.
They were encouraged to think outside the parameters of traditional selfies and push boundaries about how they represented their true selves, including being silly, serious, ugly and subversive.
‘‘It’s about playing with different ways of looking at one’s self and that there’s more than one way to represent themselves and look beautiful – and you don’t even have to look beautiful in front of the camera all the time,’’ Ms Darcy said.
‘‘We wanted to give them confidence that they don’t have to fit a specific mould and do what everyone else is doing on Facebook.’’
Ms Whitton agreed: ‘‘We wanted to show that representing your true self is beautiful, not trying to emulate what is seen as conventionally beautiful,’’ she said.
Bishop Tyrell Anglican College student Tyra Wilkins, 14, said the course had helped her develop her confidence, make friends and deepen her love and understanding of photography.
‘‘I now look at photos from a different perspective and they have so much more meaning – I see myself coming out of my comfort zone and doing things I didn’t think I could do.’’
This Is Me: Self Identity Project opens at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery on Saturday and shows to August 3.