Selfies: My Guilty Pleasure

Everyone has a guilty pleasure that no one knows about. Mine is watching reality TV shows, the most annoying and snobby ones (and of course this isn’t real since a guilty pleasure by default isn’t meant to be shared, but point illustrated). Then there are the guilty pleasures that some people know about, just our closest friends, like the fact that we can eat a whole Nutella jar in half an hour or that we actually like eating caviar with tomato flavored chips (in our dreams, because we can’t afford caviar, but still). Then there is the guilty pleasure everyone knows about because we post it on social networks.


Now, selfies are not always a guilty pleasure, but to many – they are. Me included. Why guilty? Um, because it feels very weird to pose for myself and then proceed to ten different photographs of myself from five different angles, after which I edit and “filter” the chosen one, and then post it on a page that is devoted to myself so others can see it. (Also, because even my grandmother now knows what a selfie is, and that makes me feel guiltier than anything else). It is, however, a pleasure. Now, not everyone agrees with the guilty part, and even less people don’t agree with the pleasure part. But to the guilty-pleasure-takers out there: maybe selfies shouldn’t make us so guilty anymore. Unless, like me, you used to mercilessly make fun of all your friends who took selfies until you started doing it yourself, that is.

Now, all that follows is a discussion of selfies in a moderate amount. A moderate amount means that you are not even close, not by a hundred horrible un-posted selfies, to having your motto be “BUT FIRST, LEMME TAKE A SELFIE”, because as entertaining as that song is you got to admit that (nearly) nobody would appreciate that sentence being used in an actual serious, non-mocking, conversation.

Anyhow, are selfies that bad? I mean, we live in a generation where we are surrounded by images of people, everywhere, blown up and shrunken down, enhanced and edited and with people overanalyzing every crinkle, wrinkle and bulge. Selfies are, to an extent, a way to take back the role of presenting yourself to the public – if people are going to be displayed out there for everyone to see and judge, each person might as well be in control of what others see.

Selfies for women are a tricky concept. If a woman posts a selfie of herself fully dolled up, she would get snide comments and judgments along the line of, “your self-worth isn’t dependent on your selfie filter, by the way.” If she posts a selfie of herself without make up, au natural, #nofilter, she would find herself faced with either hateful comments about how she should never put herself in such a position again, “this is what make up is for”, etc or she would face skepticism, “how many filters equal non-filter exactly.” (Now, disclaimer: the quotations are all out of my imagination, but they’re close enough). It is another female dilemma, just like the working vs. stay-at-home mom, and the conservative vs. non-conservative dresser, etc. No matter what she decides to do, someone, and very likely another woman, will attack her – and that is exactly why women should take back the control of the images of themselves that are out there – I mean, one can only live down a couple of horrifying open-mouth mid-speech Facebook tags.

Men, however, face a dilemma that I find just as serious – especially since the judgment component is not even trying to masquerade as being downplayed. When a guy takes a selfie, he is judged for his pose, if he looks like he cares, he’s posing and that’s not good. And if he looks like he doesn’t care, he’s acting and that’s not good. If he takes a selfie in the gym he’s not actually working out, he’s just showing off and that’s not good. If he takes a selfie before going out, he’s trying to make someone jealous and that’s not good. Not for a second could someone imagine that anyone other than himself or herself just takes a selfie because they want to, because they look good today or because they’re in a really awkward social situation and need to hide inside (literally, if possible) their phones.

It is amazing how people (myself included) automatically pass judgments and make assumptions about other people in situations that are nearly exactly the same as ones we are put in daily, and wouldn’t appreciate anyone’s interference (even if it is inside their own head). Guilty pleasures are a must, we all have them, and the sharing of a guilty pleasure makes it easier on everyone. So let’s each take control of our own images and try to understand others’ images as they would wants us to (not as we tell ourselves they want us to, but how they actually do).

Okay, I’m off to watch a reality show and finish a jar of Nutella.

Picture Credit: We Heart It