Ok let me start off by saying that this is not a rant against selfies. I myself am a selfie fiend. It takes me two frikkin hours to straighten my hair, and A LOT of anti-frizz/shine spray, and it still poofs up after a few minutes. So on those sporadic days when it decides to work with me, you can be sure I'll do my modern-day tribal thank you dance to the hair Gods and post an Instagram luvo shot.
I also am guilty of posting selfies as part of my photographic record of events: concerts, parties, holidays- there will indefinitely be one photo where the only way you'll know where my friends and I were is by reading the caption. But whatever, self love; give everyone some rope for narcissism every now and then.
What I can't stand are the people in denial of their self indulgence. Trying to cover up their selfie with some profound meaning. You thought you looked good that day, just admit it. Don’t go around strutting your self-righteousness all over my news feed.
I'm talking about the people that post inspirational quotes like
"everything in life happens with reason, reasons which we may never know. Have the strength to accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change what you can, and be wise enough to know the difference #trustingod"*
under their selfie. Oh I'm sorry, how was I meant to gather that from your duck-face pout and vacant stare? My bad, maybe I'm not deep enough to process that your hollow expression was meant to symbolise faith.
Or those "Happy birthday, love this girl! <3" photos where said birthday girl has half her face cropped out (thanks, Instagram square photo limitation) with whatever's left of it being extremely unflattering. But, predictably, the poster of the photograph looks amazing. Wow, what an awesome friend she is for dedicating a post to her friend. And she's so pretty too. What an awesome pretty friend to have!
And that doesn't even include the people trying to hide their selfie by playing the comedian. "I'm such a dag" the post reads, meanwhile poster has got their cheeks sucked in to highlight their cheekbones, and their eyes open in a bambi expression. Yeah gurl, you're a dag.
Or the guy posting an ironic "am I a struggling artist yet?" caption to a picture with his hand running through his tousled hair, brows furrowed and jaw clenched. We all know you weren't being ironic.
All this time though, I stayed silent. I could handle those posts. All they elicited from me was a little snicker here and there but they were tolerable. Then came the #nomakeup selfie for "cancer awareness". Thanks. So. Much. My faith in humanity has been restored.
For those who aren't familiar, basically girls post a picture of their bare face without makeup, revealing their blemishes with confidence for the world of social media to see, so that people who are going through cancer (understandably not at their physical prime) can feel some consolation, and get the push to be confident and a bit more comfortable in their skin. Fair enough. In theory.
Because I know what I look like without makeup at my worst- like during my therapeutics final exam last year. My skin breaks out, leaving it in this creepy translucent white/red limbo zone; my eyes are bloodshot, I have massive bags under them; my eyebrows are outgrown; and my hair is in a messy top knot bun.
And I also know what I look like without makeup at my best- relaxed, on holiday, with beach hair and tanned skin. The former is something that could be a little consoling to someone who's seen better days. The latter could just make someone even more self conscious, because "that’s them at their worst, and its better than me at my current best". Basically, that’s what these selfies are. Just self-indulgent pictures shouting out "look at me, even at my worst I'm still hot- and I'm philanthropic too".
Case example: Scrolling down my newsfeed last week, I noticed someone I knew had gotten blonde highlights. They looked really good. And she had gotten a perfect blow-out (I know good hair when I see it). Daym girl.
Then I read the caption: "IN YO FACE CANCER!!" My eyes darted back to the photo- She had some over-exposed, blemish-hiding instagram filter on, had taken the photo at the good old myspace angle, and -wait for it- was wearing blue coloured contacts. The caption read "No make up is no challenge compared to the real battle itself… never never never give up!".
Why? Why? How does that even help someone with cancer? Its simply narcissistic, and just plain lip service- is the person donating or even helping the cause? Most of the time, no.
If you actually care, go out there and do something. Someone I knew was diagnosed with cancer and had to go through chemotherapy- she was feeling so self conscious about losing her hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. I didn’t invite her to my house looking like a total glamour-puss sans the eyeliner. I just told her 'hey, when I go out with my friends we wear fake eyelashes, hair extensions, and pencil in our eyebrows- you'll just be acting like a beauty queen all the time now'. Then we went wig shopping together at Paddy's markets. That's something more constructive than taking a "no makeup selfie" for cancer even just from the base level. There are charity groups that take women undergoing chemotherapy shopping, or teach them how to wear makeup. Support or volunteer with them if you really care.
Now some people will say "but the selfies help raise money". Like those 'for every like I get on my no make up selfie I'll donate $1'. In the words of my colleague Rishmie, "Do something gutsy. Make a statement if you really want to show that you are putting your everything into a charity and its cause". She should know. This beautiful girl with striking dark features, a smile that you can feel just from looking at her eyes alone, and gorgeous shiny hair, decided to shave off all her locks this year for the Leukaemia Foundation. That was a sacrifice- and one relatable to cancer at that. She had the same image-related doubts and insecurities that someone knowing they will have to go through chemotherapy will have- the 'vanity factor' as she called it. Like wondering whether her "head would be a weird alien shape", or feeling everyone look at her differently wherever she walks. For some reason I feel this is a tad more relevant and relatable to someone going through cancer than "what angle should I hold my camera for my selfie?"
Rishmie and her shiny hair saying no to #nomakeup selfies
So far, Rishmie has raised over $2650 on her own, and "could not be happier to walk around almost bald to show that [she's] played even the smallest part in helping the leukaemia foundation". This is her contribution, compared to her aforementioned counterpart whose selfie reached fruition with these comments:
Just as a final disclaimer, in no way am I against selfies. In fact, this is a selfie I'm proud to repost. Yes it has a filter, and yes she is wearing makeup, but I think she looks damn beautiful both inside and out.