Living in this prevalent “Selfie-Era”, I must say my views on the subject are conflicted. If I were to count how many pictures I’ve taken of myself in the last 10 years I’d probably be able to plaster my walls with them.
According to the BBC (not that I vouch for their reliability on statistics or anything) – 23,000,000 photos were found with the hashtag #Selfie and #ME in 2013. Thousands of social-media users either consciously or unconsciously used their platforms to project a specific image of themselves. I must stress the word image here; as that’s all our lives in pictures will ever be: a depiction of a lifestyle or persona which we’ve intentionally shared with an audience.
This is a culture of self-invention: where we expose ourselves to the judgements of others and in turn judge them equally. We tread shallow waters as we covet, compete and compare ourselves to falsified representations. I have a friend who’d spend hours admiring various women, sifting through Instagram profiles; obsessing over humans who held no place in her life.
This fascination is no different to how we approach celebrity culture, only we appreciate celebrities based on their talent over image, right?!
It’s clear that young women feel an amounting pressure to look a certain way, enhancing their appearance through the mediums of filters and beauty apps. It can’t be healthy for anyone to feel immense gratification based how many ‘likes’ their pictures get, especially when the advertising is false.
Over the years I’ve been told that I’m pretty photogenic however, I know the truth behind the lies. Comparing my before and after selfies having edited them makes me feel a deep sense of shame toward the girl behind the lens. The gratification received from Instagram ‘likes’ boosted my self-esteem for a mere three seconds and evaporated into further dimensions. Is an attention which is superficial and shallow nourishing for the mind of a young girl like myself? Or does it add to an already mounting pressure that women should look a certain way to be of value?
Picture-taking is addictive. I remember my first ever ‘Myspace’ page and the strong anxiety I felt around making sure my next post would be better than the last. I would pose under lightbulbs, tilt my head in an unnatural way and wear layers and layers of makeup. It wasn’t even fun anymore.
In later years, toxic beauty apps, Instagram filters and “knowing the right angles” forced me to scrutinise and pick myself apart. I manipulated my face and body to the point that I became unrecognisable. In the end, I’ve just felt hollow from within.
My obsession with selfies became so intense that I started to see all the things “wrong” with me. I fell into the Media’s trap of de-racialization and cloning; contemplating a nose job when my nose is already quite small.
Here is me in the before picture, completely untouched. In the second, as I’m sure you can see, I have morphed in to Kylie Jenner. The bags have been removed from my eyes, my nose and jaw refined, lips enlarged; eyes brightened with an added filter. I’m not sure in what universe I thought this was going from a 7 to a 10, but I’ll opt for being real before a number, thanks.
Sometimes when I look at my face I see glimpses of my loved ones: my dad, grandfather, aunts; mum. Why on earth would I want to “fix” that? If the lines around my eyes or the shape of my nose maps the history of my roots then maybe the media can go and fuck itself. If being a physical “10” means conforming to one particular type of image, you can keep it. I’ll take what’s been passed down by my ancestors, an evolution far greater than the mere surface of skin.