This post was written for Fashion Journal.
Is there anything more synonymous with the ‘young people’ of today than the explosion of the selfie? If you haven’t mastered the duck face pout or strategic mirror shots, can you even call yourself a millennial? What was initially seeded in the Myspace era (RIP), has since blossomed to a fully-fledged empire thanks to Instagram. Selfies have taken over.
I use the term ‘selfie’ quite broadly; basically to include any image whereby a face (my face) is present. It took me years to feel comfortable popping my mug on Instagram – for reasons unclear to me now. But the more I do it, the more ‘likes’ I seem to draw. I’m yet to think it’s because my face is overpoweringly beautiful, so it got me thinking: Why do we all like selfies? The phenomenon cannot be limited to me.
Apparently, Science (with a capital S) agrees with me. A study conducted in 2014 found that Instagram posts featuring faces, on average, were 38 per cent more likely to receive likes than any sunset, beach, pup, or #foodstagram. The jury’s out on whether plain old narcissism is the cause, but we seem to have this unexplainable *thing* with the human face.
I decided to see how my selfies stack up. Looking over my account – and doing a few mind-boggling calculations I left behind in school – my infrequent selfies score approx. 81 per cent more likes. Either my selfies are really great (I can be a glass-half-full gal), or my other posts are appalling. Regardless, the selfies winneth every time. A quick glance at the posts I’ve liked, and it’s evident I fall into that trap too; I am a chronic human-body-image liker.
I’ve developed my own selfie theory; I call it the ‘Real Life Revolution’. With reports of social disconnect and exposure to #blessed lives that will never match our own, we’ve taken the selfie to new territory. Maybe the reason my selfies perform better (in influencer terms) is their honesty. TBH, most of my pics are taking the piss out of myself. I’m wearing an oversized ’80s pastel ski jacket, unwittingly flaunting a horrendous Resting Bitch Face while deep in discussion, or vigorously chomping on a jam-and-cream-laden scone. For me, selfies don’t prove my prowess or beauty but admit my faults to the world. I’m forced to own my overly-expressive face, embrace it, and then get over it by inviting others to laugh alongside me.
Jazzelle Zanaughtti (@uglyworldwide) seems to have a similar take. The traditionally unconventional model is rapidly gaining Insta-popularity for her ∼oh so real∼ take on life. The US-based babe pulls likes by the tens of thousands with her unique style, addressing of insecurities (like dealing with psoriasis) and motivational thoughts. Quotes such as, “Quit w the compare and contrast shit n focus on Y-O-U!!!!!” are riddled throughout her feed. It’s medicine for the image-obsessed of today.
This emerging change is reassuring: Instagram might finally move beyond the perfect life and open a window to reality. Instead of being a platform built to shame, torment and ridicule, we’re collectively taking it to a more meaningful level. Instagram can become the platform for realness, praise and acceptance that it should be. Own that shit. So go on: post the occasional unpolished selfie, and display yourself to the world, minus the filtered veneer. Chrissy Teigen would agree. Breast-pumping, mum-bod and smushed faces are all but a day’s work, even for a top model.
(Image via @uglyworldwide)