Recently, my friend Lucy wrote a blog post entitled I Don’t Like Selfies, in which she shared some of her self-taken photos of the past and discussed getting ‘defensive and strange’ about the common justification of selfie posting as body confidence boosting and great.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about since, because I share in Lucy’s conflicted opinions.
This is what I look like right this second:
And this is what I look like at an angle that no one has ever or will ever see my face from, with the addition of a filter, some ‘auto enhancing’ and a bit of cropping. OH and a smile because I always smile when I’m perusing the internet alone.
The second photo is a ‘nicer’ photo. But the thought of sharing a photo like this with the world, and even looking at it myself right now, makes me REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. ‘Cause even though that’s my face and it’s really not that altered, to me it’s fake. That’s really not how I look and sharing that with anyone would not give me any sort of confidence boost. I much prefer the first photo because there is a greater element of self to that particular selfie.
I am old enough to remember the days before digital cameras, before reviewing and deleting was commonplace after taking a photo. You had to wait weeks for photos to be developed, and if you found a NICE photo of yourself after doing so, woaaah it was so spontaneous and uplifting, even among all the awful ones where you’re covered in yoghurt (I had a weird childhood).
And then I grew up through webcams and fliphones and Bebo and Dailybooth and I witnessed a lot of selfies. I’ve taken my fair few. They did not manage to quell the years of body hating insecurity that comes with adolescence. Even with Youtube, I used to get freaked out meeting people in person who’d only ever seen me in video form because even video making is a pretty false representation with lighting and make up and colour-correction and no side profiles. Never side profile, please.
My recent internet selfie game is home to double chins and cross eyes and I don’t even know. I actually find the ‘Ugly Selfie’ phenomenon a lot more reassuring, because it reminds me that we’re humans and we can look really silly and our features are just as ridiculous as every other animal’s.
I am more confident than I used to be in my early teenage years, but I do not owe an ounce of this confidence to selfies. But most mornings, I like to stand in front of my bathroom mirror, pull a few stupid faces and then smile at myself. Massive, cheesy grin. And I like to mentally tell myself ‘HEY you look OKAY and you’re a good person go KICK THE WORLD’S ASS.’ I don’t share these moments with anyone, least of all strangers on the internet, but they are the moments in which I feel best about myself. And that in itself is more than enough, and I prefer to keep that feeling as a private thing.
I hope this goes someway in explaining why my Twitter profile picture is a 6 month old headshot taken by a friend, and why my Tumblr picture is a FOUR YEAR old photo in which you can’t even see my face. Selfies don’t make me feel good about myself, they make me feel weird and dishonest and like I’m forcing my face upon people who have much better things to be doing with their time. That’s not to say I judge anyone who does get a happy buzz out of uploading selfies, or that I don’t believe them when they say it’s self-esteem boosting and fun. I believe you, but I shan’t be joining you just yet.
Yours, self confident but not selfieing. (Selfieing??)