I do not consider myself particularly vain. And let me be clear about what I am considering as “vanity.” True to the dictionary definition, overly concerned with one’s whatever (looks, accomplishments, etc) can look like many things. And we can talk about what “overly” means as well, as one man’s “overly” is another’s “mandatory.” For example, I don’t leave my house to go anywhere I intend to remove my sunglasses without eyeliner. Is this vain? Some might think so. But I don’t. Which brings me to this whole “selfie” deal.
I don’t take selfies often. Of my 835 pictures on Instagram (taken over 3 ½ years, averaging about 2 pictures a day) 5.8% (about 50) of them are selfies and/or “usies”, which are defined as the pictures when either I or the person in the picture uses our cell phone’s camera function to take a picture of ourselves for whatever reason. That number goes up to 70 pictures (8 %) if you add pictures of various parts of my body, whose status as a “selfie” is debatable as there is no actual face to look at. In comparison, about 20% (160 something) of my IG photos feature one or more of my kids without me in the picture (I counted combo kid/me selfies in the “me” selfie category).
To be honest, I don’t care for selfies – mine or anyone else’s. Not because I am a staunch opponent of vanity – I like to look cute as much as the next person. I belong in a sorority whose identity is based largely on what people perceive as vanity. I think selfies are awful because they are usually the same boring ass photo of your good side taken at a jaunty angle that looks exactly the same as the last 43 pictures you have taken of yourself and of nothing else. Nothing else. NOTHING ELSE.
I don’t know this guy but apparently he wants me to…
As a people watcher with degrees in psychology, I love a good narrative. I like to see what’s going on as much as you like to share, and selfies say to me, “You know what’s going on? ME…Me in red lipstick, me in tight clothes, me sweating from running, me, me, me.” In fact, Psychology Today says indulging in selfies is an indication of narcissism, low self-esteem, attention seeking behavior, and self-indulgence. And while I know Psychology Today is full of shit and have been on my list of no cred since they wrote that article about Negro women not being attractive (look it up), I’m going to lend this opinion some credence. In fact, in 2014, some sad teenager became so obsessed with taking the perfect picture of himself, he spent 10 hours a day perfecting his craft, and finally attempted suicide after failing to produce that perfect selfie. WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO DO THIS?
So, I tried it. For 7 days, I tried to delve into the mind of people who have made taking pictures of themselves on a constant and regular basis their new favorite past time. So here are 5 things I learned about selfies…
#1 This shit it time consuming
Maybe I am impatient. Maybe I am self-conscious. Maybe I just have too many damn kids and not enough time to sit around staring in my front facing camera to get that perfect shot. I swore I would take at least three pictures a day and post one… but I really took like two and posted the better of the two. These are the selfies that didn’t make the cut:
AND its emotionally consuming. See that one with the short hair (wig)? I didn’t post it because I thought too hard about it and thought, dammit, I look just like this guy:
No one was about to wait on me at the do’ in my comments so it didn’t make the cut. Plus, I have this really cute baby, and was low on phone storage space, so if someone’s photo isn’t going to happen, it wasn’t going to be hers.
#2 Its Hard
I know what makes for good pictures – I have “an eye” for aesthetics. I know what colors I look good in. I know what shapes and sizes of clothes I should wear, and all that. But finding the right lighting, angle, and horcrux to take a good selfie is like rocket science. And while I may be many, many things, a rocket scientist I am not.
#3 You can’t take yourself too seriously
This is where the selfie kings and queens lose me. The people of the world who “woke up like this” when they know they didn’t, or those who deny the fact that their shirtless picture or flirty pout is thirst trapping, kill me. And this is where I start blocking and hiding people from my timeline, because whether you realize it or not, you have set yourself up to be clowned, and the internet is no place for the sensitive, especially when there are people like me who can’t read facial expressions in real life, let alone “sincerity” over the internet. I’ve hurt quite a few feelings so I tend to keep my opinion to myself (mostly because I’ve been blocked anyway) but I will admit, putting yourself out there, over and over again, takes balls I might not have.
#4 People do this for fans
My selfie consultant (yes, I have one of those, who is also where i got the title from. You can check out her selfies on IG @lawanticious. She takes a phenomenal selfie) called it “self-appreciation.” But does “self-appreciation” entail screaming,” I look damn good today, but not so damn good yesterday but I took a picture of myself to show everyone that I still feel good about myself even when I know I don’t look as good as I did the day before that?” Because to me, that doesn’t feel genuine. I know people say, “I’m feeling myself today, boo!” but does that mean I have to feel you, too? Because that sometimes feels intrusive and sometimes, every once in a while, I feel like I have been visually assaulted.
I mean, I love a good, “You look pretty today,” as much as the next guy, but I also have a family who says that to me often, so maybe I don’t understand the need to seek that adoration from the peoples on the internets. I like to think of my friends as my friends, and not some army of sycophants who should shower me with compliments… My babies ARE really cute, though…
#5 My vanity lies elsewhere
While I may not be clamoring for the attention of others with regard to my looks, my insecurities lay elsewhere. And yes, I am saying that a constant stream of selfies may indicate that you are masking a deep unhappiness or suffering from low self-esteem. Why do I make that assumption? Because doth protest too much. When you have to tell the world you feel good about yourself all the time… I’ll let you finish that thought… I have come to terms with the fact that I am a very small, moderately attractive, dark skinned woman with skinny legs and supremely nappy hair. I don’t need anyone else to tell me that they approve of these things.
But, if you notice, I don’t write much. I also don’t draw much either, however, I am very good at both. Why? Because I don’t receive criticism well, and the comments section of anything ever produced is where all hope for humanity goes to die… except for the Humans of New York Facebook page… That page is awesome. But back to ME… I still seek approval, but I would rather have people appreciate me for my intellect, my wit, my humor, or candor than for my fleeky eyebrows. I love to create things, whether it be a blog or a painting or a really cute baby, and that’s what I want people to leave little smileys with hearts in their eyes in my comments about – not my funny looking face.
That Psychology Today article I mentioned also concedes that the desire to take selfies is normal and natural, but because the selfie is a relatively new phenomenon, society has yet to be able to conceptualize their place in our world just yet. As a result, they have a negative connotation, and maybe that’s it for me. I just don’t see the purpose, and as someone who is admittedly a fairly judgy person, it’s a hard sell… I guess I could acknowledge that the selfie’s place in society is to help us reach confidence, to remind us all that we’re all here, and we all matter…or show us, with little to no words, that we’re all a bunch of self-obsessed assholes.
Either way, you guys keep doing you. Remember, you is kind, you is smart, and you is important. And I’ll just keep muting you from my timeline.
Here’s my final #Selfie…
Me, writing this blog… Oh yea, I big chopped again… Man I look like my mom…