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How Gen Z has changed the way we look at ourselves

By Caroline Kawabe

Gen Z: The generation of influencers, social media, and self-love. This generation has more confidence than ever seen before.

Gen Zers value the importance of self-care and the effects of self-love. They have learned to prioritize well-being and promote the idea of looking out for ourselves and our health, which has been revolutionary for ourselves and others. The promotion of “self-love” has contributed to our ever-evolving progressive society.

When you were younger, your parents might have expressed the importance of being humble—I know mine did. They emphasized the negativity of arrogance and always kept us in check, in a good way! However, as we continued to grow up in the age of social media, we were introduced to new perspectives on pride. People began to value unbridled confidence and praise the idea of “self-love.”

The rise of social media has led to more selfies being shared, analyzed, being looked at by more people, including ourselves. We constantly analyze ourselves, whether it is via reflection, photos, or social media. It seems as though we cannot escape the internet… or ourselves. So, Gen Z took it upon themselves to turn this into a positive. Posting a selfie with a somewhat arrogant-yet-witty caption became trendy. Calling yourself “hot,” “brilliant,” or a “boss” became not only socially acceptable, but praised. Instagram highlights entitled “self-love” or “me” became increasingly popular. Being loud and proud became a strength rather than a weakness.

It is truly amazing to see how these trends have allowed us to be more kind to ourselves and one another. We have become more open, progressive, and accepting as a society.

However, like almost everything in this age, there are multiple sides to this idea of “self-love.” Though the idea may not be controversial, some argue that the execution is. When does this outspoken confidence border on narcissism?

In my opinion, these are two completely different things.

According to Psychology Today, “[n]arcissism is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, a need for excessive admiration, and the belief that one is unique and deserving of special treatment.”

Self-love, on the other hand, comes with good intentions. The concept does not revolve around comparing yourself to others or putting others down; it is merely loving ourselves. This trend is a positive thing; the idea of self-love promotes not just self-confidence, but self-care. When we mix up the concepts of narcissism and self-love is when we can find ourselves in trouble. We have to be wary not to confuse the wholesome intentions of self-love with the more malicious ones of arrogance and narcissism.

Though I first questioned whether these trends would contradict the values that were instilled in me as a child, I soon realized that these ideas do not conflict at all. One can be humble AND have self-love. Taking care of, being proud of, and staying optimistic with ourselves are all necessary aspects for our overall well-being. The more we practice these ideas, the more refreshed and confident we may feel.

I think it is safe to say Gen Z is a very outspoken generation. And, they came at a time when we needed them most. Gen Z has pushed society to reevaluate our priorities, redefine what is socially acceptable, and reshape the norm. Gen Z has helped us realize that there is nothing wrong with acknowledging our beauty or being proud of an accomplishment.

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