I want to talk about something disgusting. No, nothing physically graphic or childishly funny. This post is entirely G rated.
I want to talk about the self-destructing enigma that is selfie culture. The other day, JJ Olivier posted this searing piece about how selfies are often a narcissistic compulsion. I couldn’t stop thinking about this bizarre selfie culture that has inundated our world.
Then, today — randomly? — a sponsored ad on my Facebook feed caused my jaw to drop. There I was, scrolling casually, looking at photos of my friends’ cute babies and puppies. Then there it was, an ad for something called the You Cam App.
(Side note: It is entirely possible that in my social media naivete I am late to the party, and this is already a popular app. Someone please tell me I’m not the only one who has never heard of this?)
The company that makes the app is called Perfect Corp. No joke. You really have to view the website for yourself because honestly I don’t think my words of revulsion can do it justice.
Be sure to scroll through each of their three products and watch the video for each.
There is You Cam Perfect, which allegedly gives you perfect selfies. You hear that? The perfect selfie! Which, in case you’re wondering, according to their video means slimming your jaw, removing eye bags, color correcting skin tone, brightening eyes, etc.
Then there’s also You Cam Makeup, which adds virtual makeup to your face in photos you take. The idea is literally is that you stay in your house and go clean-faced — don’t even bother with all that messy makeup goop! — and let the app do your makeup for you.
Then finally there is the You Cam Nails apps, which, just like its makeup counterpart, overlays a virtual image on your plain, unpolished nails just for a photo. Below is my satirical impersonation of what this app does.
So what’s the message?
All that matters is the virtual image. All that matters is what the internet sees.
And that, that right there is what sickens me about selfie culture. The quest for physical perfection is nothing new. But what I think has changed drastically in very recent years is the heavy emphasis placed on virtual imagery rather than imagery in real life.
My vitriol against this company’s apps and selfie culture may seem rather hypocritical, given that I am a self proclaimed girly girl who does occasionally blog about fashion, shoes, and quite often nails. But I would argue that the motive makes all the difference in the world.
I like fashion because, well, it makes me internally happy — not because the world tells me I’m supposed to like it. (The world also tells me I shouldn’t be that good of a gamer, since I’m a girl, and I sure as heck don’t listen to that either.) Same with nail polish. I love the therapeutic nature of getting a manicure, and I really love showing off my quirky personality with a variety of colors. I don’t engage in girly things simply because I’m “supposed to.” For example, I don’t wax my eyebrows or use lip liner or wear stilettos. Allegedly as a female who values beauty I am supposed to do those things, but you know what? I’ve tried all of those, I didn’t enjoy them, so I don’t do them. Crazy concept, huh?
The selfie culture, on the other hand, is based entirely on being motivated externally by the rest of the world. And especially, the rest of the virtual world. These apps hammer that point home, because when you use them you are literally not changing a thing about yourself, only the picture the online world sees. I took this selfie just for you, Internet!
To me, selfie culture is inherently enigmatic. Like JJ writes in his post, selfie culture smacks of narcissism. But I’d argue that, ironically perhaps, it also smacks of painfully low self esteem.
Does this rant mean that I think every single selfie ever taken is part of the selfie culture? Definitely not. As I was commenting over on JJ’s post the other day, I think realistic (no beauty filters) selfies in small quantities can be pretty cool. To me there’s a huge difference between a single shot of you and your best friend making a funny face over lattes, and secluding oneself taking hundreds of filter-enhanced shots in a variety of poses, all for the perfect image to garner the most likes on social media.
So no, I definitely don’t think that all selfies are inherently narcissistic or indicative of low self esteem. But I’d wager that the people who download the You Cam App virtually all fall into that latter category of low self esteem coupled with attention-seeking narcissism.
I guess I’ll trade in my soapbox for a warm bed now. Good night, Blog Land!