Art Forms

Selfie-feminism, the Sad Girl Theory and the Sad Girls of Instagram

Wojtek Rozdzenski 11 April 2018 min Read

A new wave of female artists started to appear on Instagram. They come from various backgrounds, were born in different decades, their styles are wildly different, but they share a similar characteristic. They’re women, they’re proud of it and want to show the world many aspects of being one. Working independently they created what you could call 'selfie-feminism'.

The Sad Girl Theory

The so-called 'selfie-feminism' can be derived from the 'Sad Girl Theory',  a term coined by Audrey Wollen in 2015, revolving around the power of sadness as an act of resistance and social activism. According to the theory, female sadness should no longer be perceived as a weakness and crying isn’t something anyone should be ashamed of. They all should constitute ways of resisting patriarchal society and showing discontent towards current social standards.

[caption id="attachment_11084" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Audrey Wollen selfie-feminism Audrey Wollen, source: Instagram @audreywollen[/caption] [caption id="attachment_11201" align="aligncenter" width="1250"]Audrey Wollen selfie-feminism Audrey Wollen, source: Instagram @audreywollen[/caption]


Selfie-feminists believe that by rejecting current norms, shyness, shame and exposing themselves, particularly via social media, such as Instagram, they can emancipate from the patriarchal culture and existing stereotypes.

During a recent exhibition „The Girl May Seem Strong but Inside She Barely Holds On” (23.02–14.04.2018) at  Lokal_30 in Warsaw, we could see works of such artists as:  Coco Kate, Alicja Gąsiewska, Monika Kozdroń, Nola Karamazow, Agata Zbylut, Iwona Demko, Karolina Suboczewska, Zuzanna Janin or Zofia Krawiec, who was also the curator of the exhibition.

Zofia Krawiec

Zofia Krawiec, one of the central figures of Polish selfie-feminism argues that an attractive woman is immediately recognized as unintelligent, mostly because she pays attention to her looks.

[caption id="attachment_11085" align="aligncenter" width="1080"]Zofia Krawiec selfie feminism Zofia Krawiec, source: Instagram @zofia.krawiec[/caption] [caption id="attachment_11086" align="aligncenter" width="720"]Zofia Krawiec selfie feminism Zofia Krawiec, Velazquez selfie, source: Instagram @zofia.krawiec[/caption]

She fights that assertion by proving that a woman can be intelligent, well-educated and appealing at the same time. Krawiec is an artist, art critic and a curator herself. She posts selfies which are a blend of glitter, BDSM, nudity and sadness, contradicting the opposition between intelligence and physical attractiveness. Her provocative art sparked substantial controversy among feminists, who criticized it for basing on the beauty of young and attractive bodies, rather than focusing on the goal of emancipation from the patriarchal culture. Krawiec, on the other hand, argued that by using tools and methods which were used to objectify women, she deprives them of their former power.

[caption id="attachment_11087" align="aligncenter" width="1022"]Zofia Krawiec selfie feminism Zofia Krawiec, Ready to go, source: Instagram @zofia.krawiec[/caption]

Will selfie-feminism have a real impact on women’s lives and change the perception of female emotions, lives and social roles? I guess only time will tell, but for now, let’s just take a selfie.

Find out more:

  • If you want to see more strong feminist art, check out our post about Paulina Ołowska
  • Should you want to see the exhibition yourself, check out the gallery's website

Find out more:

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