Teen Olympia Nelson takes stand against sexualised selfie photos

Australian Story

Updated Mon 23 Sep 2013, 2:50pm AEST

Video: Student attacks ‘anxious competition’ of hunt for social media approval (ABC News)

Map: Melbourne 3000
When Melbourne schoolgirl Olympia Nelson made headlines earlier this year with her critique of explicit selfies, it was not the first time she had been at the centre of a media storm.

As Australian Story reveals, Olympia first found herself on national front pages in 2008 when she was 11.

At issue, was a picture taken by her internationally renowned photographer mother, Polixeni Papapetrou, and reproduced on the front cover of Art Monthly magazine.

The stylised photograph showed an unclothed Olympia, aged five at the time, against a painted background in the style of a famous picture from the English Victorian era.

It was published in the wake of the furore over artist Bill Henson’s works featuring pubescent teenagers, and then prime minister Kevin Rudd denounced the picture, saying he “couldn’t stand this stuff”.

Now 16, Olympia has been critiquing another development in photography – selfies, or self-portraits, posted on social media.

The phenomenon has exploded over the past few years, but Olympia felt compelled to make a stand against the increasingly competitive trend towards sexualised pictures aimed at garnering ‘likes’, or votes, from an individual’s followers.

Analysis: The selfie generation

Selfies, sexting and twerking are part of a teen continuum outraging older generations, writes Vanessa Gorman.

Encouraged by her parents, she sent an essay on the subject to The Age newspaper in Melbourne.

The newspaper published her thoughts in a column, sparking renewed debate about selfies and exhibitionism on the net.

Age editor Andrew Holden said the column instantly generated a reaction from readers.