Jill Layton
July 22, 2014 4:53 pm

In Australia, a group of 13 and 14-year-old girls have introduced a new meaning to the word “selfie.” The girls were selected by their schools to participate in a program that focuses on building self-confidence, resilience, healthy relationships and dismissing unrealistic standards of beauty.

The coordinator of the program, Fiona Whitton, told The Herald, “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.” That’s when she and photo media artist, Simone Darcy decided to create a program that “could help them to build skills in photo media. Sometimes it’s easier when you’re doing or being creative to think about how you fit into the world.” And that’s exactly what the girls did.

The program is called This is Me: Self Identity Project, and the girls were encouraged to think outside of the selfie box, and figure out how they wanted their true selves portrayed — whether it was in a serious, silly, dark or bizarre way. Some used Photoshop, others used costumes and makeup. They were taught that there is more than one way to view and represent themselves, and it wasn’t always by emulating conventional beauty or by attempting to fit into a mold. Darcy said, “It’s about playing with different ways of looking at one’s self. . . and you don’t even have to look beautiful in front of the camera all the time.”

Tyra Wilkins, a 14-year-old student, admitted that the project helped her make friends and develop her confidence. “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.”

Here are some of the amazingly cool photos to come out of the This is Me: Self Identity Project, which will be on display at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery from Saturday through August 3.

Featured images via The Herald and Simone Darcy

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