“Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.” — Cindy Crawford
This is the face that concealer, foundation, bronzer, highlighter, two types of eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, a Pixiwoo YouTube tutorial, natural sunlight and 4 types of filters built (plus Stephen and Gillian B).
I do not look like this in real life.
In less than 12 hours this picture got 59 likes on Instagram, which is the 2nd most popular picture I have ever posted. My Instagram is private, the majority of followers on my Instagram know what my actual face looks like. They like this picture because they are my friends and they champion my beauty, they build me up – and because my caption had a frog emoji in it.
I simultaneously think that I am beautiful and a total minger, I just happen to edit out the ming.
I have been blessed with a very photogenic face, although I am convinced I have one eye slightly bigger than the other, more often than not the camera captures me in a way that is flattering to my features. I am also aware that this very photogenic face sits within a larger-than average head, which sits on a short, thick neck, which sits on enormous, boulder shoulders. I have the body shape of an upside-down triangle.
I’m basically a blonde pizza slice walking around London.
In the last couple of years I have become increasingly fascinated by the role of social media in our lives, and how we project ourselves within it. This is a topic that I talk about with my friends, quite a lot, especially as my best friend is training to become a mental health nurse – and there are strong links between social media and mental illness.
But, concentrating specifically on the selfie, I do wonder if actually the filter is more foe than friend? We have become editors of our own image, whilst this is empowering it is also disturbingly inaccurate. For example I cannot take my Filters with me on a tinder date, which may account for my very low 1st to 2nd date conversion rate. I’m actually on an app hiatus right now, but a couple months back I was specially targeting guys 6” plus so their view would be constant selfie angle (*joke*, I’ll go out with anyone that asks).
In an article with the Telegraph, Dr Terri Apter, psychology lecturer at Cambridge University believes the motivations behind the selfie are about controlling one’s brand.
“It’s a kind of self-definition,” says Dr Apter. “We all like the idea of being sort of in control of our image and getting attention, being noticed, being part of the culture.” But I can’t help thinking it is a bit delusional, because we don’t actually look like the content we are posting. So I need to ask myself why do I do it?
I take selfies when I have experimented with makeup, when I want to capture my very best. I take them to feel confident before a night out, but it’s calculated. I don’t want to come across as vain so I don’t post 2 in a row unless I am with people, and then for some reason it is totally acceptable. This is me, managing my brand to a T.
I asked my friends in our Whatsapp chat why they take selfies. This was probably a mistake, as we tend to argue like cats and dogs. It’s a subject for very strong opinions. Some think it is horrendously vain and screaming for attention, others do it for validation, to showcase new makeup and new clothes.
My main concern is how this impacts young girls. Beauty standards in the media have always been high, but now they are just plain false. The truth is every time I post a selfie I know it is a bit embarrassing, vanity is embarrassing, I know I have some followers who will judge me for it, but at the same time they are the images that receive the most likes.
I suspect I’ll be looking back at some of my selfies in a few years time with the same embarrassment I do now at early Facebook posts, where I am talking in third person and being really sweary and obnoxious. I don’t know how the selfie phenomena is going to evolve but I’d bet my bonus on it being a trend. We’ll be talking about it with the same cringe-worthy nostalgia we have for adidas popper bottoms. God, they we’re great airy fun weren’t they?