Lately, the rise of uploading and posting blatant selfies has become a seemingly big trend on Instragram, which, by my own estimation, is the most visual of all the social networks to date. Among girls and young women especially, this ‘selfish selfie’ trend is painfully apparent.
Selfies no longer serve (if ever they truly did) to aid us in capturing special moments or setting a new profile picture on Whatsapp or Facebook and as such, they have been labelled by many as rather extreme and frivolous ‘exercises in vanity’… and for many, perhaps they are precisely that.
However, I personally don’t feel that selfies are simply the by-product of lonely, single girls desperate for a little appreciation or guys with low self-esteem (or alternatively, bubble-bursting egos).
Instead, more than ever now, the opposite feels true. Those filling their Instagram feeds with selfies of themselves (and yes, only themselves – with perhaps the occasional pet or friend thrown in. Just to, you know, soften the edges…) are, more often than not, people with no small measure of confidence and self-assurance. Of their beauty, talents and lifestyles.
The rest of us look on in mild disgust or envy, wishing our lives were as effortlessly simple or our faces and hair as perfectly manicured, that we, too, could enjoy such idyllic lives as these selfie supremoes.
Yet the simple fact of the matter is that the girl whose Instagram you secretly and shamefully enviously stalk had to take about fifty photos before she, in her own opinion, ended up with a half-decent photo of herself, easily cuddling up to a pet or beau or showing off her newest beauty routine.
She doesn’t set out to make you jealous and yes, to all intents and purposes her life seems perfect when you look at it, what with that perfect job or course she loves, the ideal balance of leisure activities, her seemingly easy-come, easy-go riches and the steady boyfriend who makes cameo appearances, dutifully allowing her to kiss his cheek or boast about her #handsomeman.
The truth, however, is stranger than it seems. She may indeed love her job and her boyfriend but they are far from perfect and if money isn’t a problem for her, then you can be sure other things are. Things that you got right or are fortunate enough to enjoy.
In fact, she would probably look at photos of you online or on Instagram and think, “This person looks amazing… why can’t I look more like them?”
Just as the guy who poses shirtless – muscles flexed to the max – has more insecurities than you and your circle of friends combined but still, he’s out there posing and posting, generating 60-100 likes within a handful of hours.
The hardest truth we will ever have to face (excuse the pun) when it comes to selfies is that they are indeed about finding validation – though not from others necessarily but rather, from ourselves.
Photo credit: Facebook
It is about taking an everyday moment (you eating your favourite snack or lying down to watch a popular show in your pjs just like the next person out there) and making it something ‘shiny’… something that
other people will look at and think, “Ah, man, I wish I had that,” or “Why can’t I do things like that guy/girl?”
It is about reminding yourself that, with the right lighting, beauty app and filters, you actually look good.
Well, here’s the thing… you look as good as ever without the smouldering eyeliner + mascara combo. that, when you take it off, makes you look like some kind of naked, squinty mole. You think that, without the perfectly shaped eyebrows and neatly lined lips, there goes your so-called ‘hotness’… there goes your something.
Or does it? Does our natural beauty diminish or increase by adding make-up or snazzy filters to it – or do we simply trick our minds into thinking, “Well, okay, I actually am not so ugly after all. I mean, hell, 50 likes and three comments saying, ‘Wow, lookin’ good!’ can’t be wrong, can they?”
No, perhaps not – but the way you see yourself when you are dolled up or looking toned, your physique and muscle density ‘on point’, when you feel amazing and believe, however fleetingly, that you look fine, that is how so many people see you the rest of the time when you feel ordinary or plain.
That girl you ‘Insta-stalk’? She is pretty average looking in real life when you take away the expert makeup job and the elaborate hairstyles she pulls off so regally… and by average, I mean she is no more or less beautiful than you are. When her hair is messy and her make-up is smudged from sleep (or worse, crying), she looks just as fragile, ‘basic’ and helpless as the next chick out there.
As for that guy with the classy suits and tie or the body to die for, he doesn’t ever truly see what you see. Instead, he sees the overworked professional or harassed celebrity figure behind all that allure, he sees the guy who wants to look like Captain America on steroids but instead, has the slim, yet fit looking body of your average twenty-year-old professional athlete – and not an ounce of muscle more.
So before you imagine that those endless selfies, filled by flawless hair and makeup, perfect, full pouts or clothes pulled tight in all the right places are our clichéd modern-day take on exercises in vanity (though, admittedly, there are always some that are posted simply because the user ‘can’), you might try to remember the fact that, more often than not, they are whispers of loneliness, evidences of flagging self-esteem or the need to receive validation, from oneself as much, if not more, than from others.
This, for me, is the saddest reality when I scroll through Instagram feeds and all I see are thing worth having, being or showing off… yet, there you sit, wishing you could be more like someone else (or maybe just even a better version of yourself), as I, and so many others besides, look at your photos and think: “Well, don’t some people just have all the luck?”
Photo credit: Pinterest