There’s an app for that

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.

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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!

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21 comments

  1. Let me be the first to reassure you that you are not the only to never have heard of Perfect Corps. However, being rather long in the tooth, hopefully I am not the only other person. My two cents on selfies: don’t blame the technology. Narcissism has always been there, it’s only satisfying a very human urge. Like cosmetic surgery, gambling and other indulgences, it is all about dose. I enjoy the control it gives you over your own image, but clearly there are other priorities in life. Or should be.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who hadn’t heard of that app! And I definitely agree that narcissism is as old as time. I think what makes the current technology unusual though is how it enables virtual narcissism.

      Like

  2. As the last person on earth without any sort of portable computing device (phone, tablet, etc), I’ve never taken a selfie. I don’t like looking at pictures of myself anymore. My lips are tinning, my hairs has thinned, my eyeballs point in different directions. And pictures don’t match the image I see of myself in the mirror which seems to have the ability to delude me possibly better than the Perfect Corps App. Clearly there are esteem issues at play here. And I see this as part of the continuum that will send those same people to botox, facial peels, and tummy tucks in the future. I try to set an example by looking my worst at all times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally know what you mean — I’d say that at least half of the photos taken of myself look very little like the person I stare back at in the mirror. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, or neither. And you aren’t the last person on earth — my father refuses to get a cell phone as well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t heard of this app. It doesn’t surprise me that it exists, though; our culture is so obsessed with perfection that the ideal of female beauty has morphed into looking like a Barbie doll.
    I wonder how many women (like me) hardly ever leave their house without makeup on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Preach! I’m sickened by the constant need to selfie (yes, I made it a verb). It’s driven by the constant need for others’ approval. It also perpetuates this notion that perfection and self-esteem lies solely in appearance. We are breeding a very selfish, self-centered society. One of my first posts on WP was called, “Me’s” and on this very topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hate the word selfie. Play through “Life is Strange” to get a whole different view on the selfie, it’s a good game and that particular form of photography plays a central role. I think a selfie, like any other staged photograph has the potential to be narcissistic but it can also allow for a person to include themselves in their photos. The app you describe does sound targeted at the more self centered out there though. It seems people feel the constant need to validate themselves through the approval of those on the outside.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never heard of “Life is Strange” — thanks for the recommendation, I’ll have to check it out! And you make a very good point. I’d imagine most things have at least the potential to fuel narcissism. Like a lot of things in life, I think moderation is key.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. On the up side there was a news story that head lice infestations are up on high school aged kids do the the life jumping from head to head durring selfie shots. Might be a market for head lice cam

    Liked by 1 person

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