The #NoMakeup selfie has swept social media by storm countless times over the years. In some cases these selfies are used as a tool to promote something positive such as natural beauty or breast cancer awareness, in other cases they’re used as some weird source of humble bragging (“look how hot I am without makeup”), and in many situations they’re used as both a social activism platform and let’s be honest and outlet for our own need for reassurance.
To start off I want to say I am by no means “anti-selfie”. I take selfies of myself all day long many of which never grace the pages of the internet simply because I’m aware you guys can only see me sitting in my car so many times. I get it, my face isn’t infinitely exciting. I snapchat silly faces to friends, I instagram pictures in new places or you know, on the days where my hair looks exceptionally great. I practically use selfies as a mirror to answer my daily questions of vanity. Does my hair look super frizzy? Does my makeup look crazy? I am PRO selfie by all accounts.
Like many others I’ve found myself sort of obsessed with my own image (don’t lie, you are too). My nose is too wide, my eyelashes are too short, I hate the mole above my lip. I’ve noticed the exact way my head looks best (the left side of my face, always), how to minimize my wide nose, which expressions suit me and which just don’t (those cute pouty faces so do NOT look attractive on me). In many ways I love the power selfies have given women to control their own image, to feel good about their own identity and the fun little self esteem boost they so easily beckon. Yet,with every perk social media allows…there’s always a caveat.
As we scroll through instagram and notice everyone else’s practically poreless skin, long thick eyelashes, frizz free hair, and Scarjo lips we feel inadequate. We see these normal people looking like they walked straight off of the runway and just happened to snap a picture of themselves. We see the thousands of instagram likes, we don’t see the thirty-five selfies they took in the process of finding that one worthy of the infamous “#selfie” “#NoMakeup” and we feel more like trolls than the empowered self-confident women we hope to embody. The Beauty industry recognized that women’s insecurities guaranteed and easy profit years ago. In the age of selfies it wasn’t long before the digital world would begin offering iphone apps to brighten your eyes, slim your nose, and virtually apply lipgloss to every grainy car selfie you’re willing to spend the time photoshopping.
The idea that suddenly my skin can be smooth and perfected, my eyes can look as wide and bright as a Disney Princess’ and my cheekbones can be enhanced with the swipe of the screen…wow, isn’t it tempting? With over photoshopped magazine images setting the standard for beauty so high doesn’t it only seem fair (and thus justified) to improve our own images to compete in the market we call “beauty”? It isn’t cheating if we all have the same advantage right? Even Jessica Alba has creases when she smiles, even Taylor Swift must have a clogged pore now and then?
I don’t think the problem with the glorified selfie epidemic is deception. We all know professional photos are enhanced, family photos, senior portraits and engagement announcements are edited to minimize your imperfections and present the best version of the subjects. I don’t see a problem with this sort of editing. However, I’ve become fed up with the iphone photoshop epidemic that gives each individual the opportunity to “perfect” themselves, not because they’re fooling the viewer (let’s be honest we can all tell fake lashes and airbrushed skin when we see it) but because they’re fooling themselves.
I’m upset because we’ve given up our self worth to the “selfie game”. We’ve admitted defeat by allowing something as trivial as instagram likes to affirm our beauty and we’ve recognized perfectly natural human traits like PORES and LAUGH LINES and FRECKLES as fundamental flaws. I’m certainly not perfect guys, I’ve spent way too much time fixing my face before plastering my image over instagram, but I decided to give up the cheesy habit. How can I say I am confident in who I am while simultaneously pretending I don’t have a gigantic scar across the middle of my forehead on the most “real time” version of social media that’s out there? How can I tell the children I work with that their inner beauty is the most important while obsessing over how big my nose looks in my most recent snapchat?
Vanity is a fascinating topic, I’m not ready to completely ban it to my list of vices, as I don’t believe vanity is all bad. Spending time on one’s appearance isn’t a sin. There is value in looking your best, in highlighting your best features, in minimizing your flaws. In an age that makes eliminating your imperfections easier than ever before, I think it is important to question how far is too far? I don’t have the right answer (nor do I think there is a perfect solution), but I’ve determined the sort of presentation I feel comfortable with. Just as I don’t feel comfortable wearing foundation, lipstick, fake eyelashes and hair extensions on a daily basis, I don’t feel comfortable perfecting my selfies via editing software. Per contra there are occasions I embrace the excuse to paste on fake eyelashes, sparkly eye shadow and Jenny Humphrey-esque eyeliner, and likewise I find it acceptable to allow my boyfriend to edit out a pimple or blemish after a studio shoot. What makes it more acceptable for me to cake on makeup for a party or rave but unacceptable for typical school day? Well, I really don’t know. Whatever the logic I argue it’s the same vain sense of consciousness that urges me not to photoshop my instagram photos (beyond the provided filters) but tells me it’s okay to edit a bit more when using the DSLR.
What are your thoughts on iphone self editing? Do you think it “levels” the playing field for average women and celebrities a bit or do you think it aides self esteem issues?