Strange as it may seem to anyone under the age of about thirty but it's only in the last few years that the word, 'selfie,' has come into being.
Before that, people used to set up a camera on self-timer and then run like the clappers to be in the correct place before the shutter clicked. I have several unintentional photographs of my backside to prove that the ten seconds delay wasn't really long enough. In fact, I have a whole series of pictures of me from the back, desperately scrambling over rocks to join the husband who was posing happily in the waves on some beach holiday. I think I gave up in the end and just took one of him on his own.
As he's never been the practical type (see previous blog post, 'Masonry' which details precisely how he failed in the DIY stakes) I've never trusted him to set the timer whilst I draped myself elegantly over a rock, and smiled like I'd all the time in the world. As his usual method of photography (under extreme sufferance) is to vaguely point the camera in the right direction and click (disregarding the fact that the resulting picture might just be a headless, legless torso) I think giving him the responsibility of the self timer could be a step too far.
And now, the ubiquitous selfie is to be seen everywhere you go. Facebook is full of them: groups of girls in nightclubs, couples on romantic strolls, individuals smiling at their reflections in smartphones.....there's no escape. I must admit, I did have a hankering for a selfie stick when they first appeared. It looked like the answer to all our problems (mine being short arms and the inability to hold the phone steady and press the button at the same time).
Thankfully, although tempted, I never actually bought one, and now they seem to be a bit of an embarrassment. Recently, down on the prom, I watched a couple produce a selfie stick from a rucksack and glance furtively around before attaching a phone, posing, snapping and shoving the gadget back in the bag. It was all done with the air of somebody dealing in drugs - and quite frankly, I could see why.
My four year old granddaughter recently got hold of her mum's phone and not only expertly took about a dozen 'peace, pose and pout' (that's pouting whilst making the two finger peace sign) selfies, but also made a short video of herself miming to some pop record. I mention all this, not as a proud grandma but as someone amazed at (a) how these poses come naturally (or have been learnt) even to four year olds (b) how quickly technology has moved on and (c) how tech savvy these young kids are.
Recently, I worked with my fellow Whipper Snappers practitioner, Claire, to run a workshop for ten and eleven years olds, around the subject of self image. It was interesting to see their initial reactions when a camera was pointed in their direction. They went into automatic pose mode - usually with a pout, and it seemed quite difficult for them to look natural. Discussions around apps that altered their look were enlightening - they had all added animal ears and noses to their self portraits, but some had also used more advanced apps to smooth out wrinkles (on an eleven year old??) and make skin totally blemish free.
I do worry that these ideas of 'perfection' are becoming the norm, and the reason so many young people (women, in particular) are turning to Botox and other methods of 'improving' their looks. I understand that we all want to look our best but I fear for the future if facelifts and other 'enhancements' are set as a baseline at a younger and younger age.
For the time being, I'm happy to let nature take its course and revel in the wrinkles, double chin and age spots. After all, they've been earned, they are the result of a life lived. I do have to admit, however, that maybe my backside, so frequently captured by the self timing camera, wasn't actually so bad in comparison to that sixty four year old face that now stares out at me from my phone....
The Anti-Selfie - showing it like it is...
Peace, Pout, Pose by Jill Reidy
Peace, pout, pose
Head up, chin down
Lights on, lights off
Turn to the right
To the left
Look over your shoulder
Now where's that app
That makes us all look
Practically the same?
Thanks for reading Jill
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