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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Why I Selfied

For Jill, because she was interested.

"And I'm a million different people from one day to the next" - The Verve, Bittersweet Symphony
Between the ages of 17 and 22, I took a lot of selfies. Hundreds. Probably thousands, although a mere few hundred ended up online. How very restrained I was. (Of course, they weren't called selfies then, and all this was fields.)

Why was I so obsessed with my own image, and with other people's reactions to me? I've given a lot of thought to this, because that is the kind of person I am. I do very normal things, then give a lot of thought to them, as if that somehow makes them worthy and important.

Many would say that it was vanity; the more perspicacious might say it was insecurity. I think it was both and more. I think that those years, late teenage and early twenties, mark the baffling, peculiar, and mercurial stage in which one looks like a different person every day.

This is undoubtedly true of one's childhood, too, but now the world is treating you like an adult. Suddenly you're considered ready for responsibility, for attention, for catcalls and compliments. When two different strangers can, within the same week, shout that you're ugly and beautiful respectively, we should not be surprised that people want to know what's happening that could provoke these responses.

So, we document. We try new hairstyles, new outfits, new angles; but instead of waiting for the opinion of a random on the street, we put them online and mentally chart the likes.

My peak of selfie-taking was probably age 19. My life got suddenly fuller, days packed with new experiences, and I never felt the same from one week to another. This was reflected, it seemed, in my reflection itself. Every time I got the camera out, I found that I looked less or more grown up than I expected, sometimes slimmer, sometimes lonelier, sometimes happier. I was in a long-distance relationship, which provided the perfect incentive (alibi?) to send photographs, and every one was a surprise to me as much as my intended. I was an adult now, who knew?

And why was it that I never saw what I expected? What is the strange dance we do with our self-esteem that prevents us from getting a reliable read on how attractive we are? (That's a whole 'nother blog post, I suspect.)

I still look like a different woman every day, but as the woman in question is merely getting older and fatter, I forgo the photos. That era has passed, for me. I'm done taking selfies. I don't see that changing, as I don't want to see myself changing any more. Maybe one day I'll be glad to have these to look back on, but they're not exactly things to show the hypothetical grandkids, are they?

Who knows. Maybe by then I'll be too old and too wise to be embarrassed of my fascination with my own changing self.

1 comment:

  1. Hah! You're still young. Save the 'older and fatter' for the middle-aged spread, and enjoy health and beauty. xxx


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