Selfie Stigma: Who loses when we condemn vanity


The camera's scroll on my phone follows a pretty predictable pattern. There are whole gritty pieces of almost identical portraits of my face and body from all discernible angles, followed by a hodgepodge of random screenshots and different objects and landscapes and then another powerful network of almost identical souls, etc. .

The average number of shots for a self-made shoe hangs over the top centuries or seventies under optimal conditions (good lighting, good attitude, good makeup / hair, etc). That number crawls over 100 when any of these things are compromised. This is not something that annoys me, but if someone rolled through the camera's roll on my phone, I would instinctively hit my iPhone X out of their hand if they were to see the grid populated with upwards of 100 selfies in a row. I'd rather find no nudes than witness "my process".

Sable Yong

Taking yourself does not hurt anyone, is not offensive to nature and is pretty much insignificant. In some way, selfies have come to define the self-absorption of smartphone generation. Some are taken seriously, some are outraged in irony, and some take a stand against selfies altogether. Selfie is a general reflection – kind of looking at a mirror and controlling yourself, but outward. It is a technological harvest of natural human vanity in all its forms and iterations.

It's not exactly a secret that people have been fascinated by our beauties and beauty concepts since the beginning of time. Most of the stories that I received as children involved evil mothers who were homicidal obsessed with their appearance, finally defeated by their way younger and naturally beautiful step killers ("the lesson" was that the most beautiful of them all win due to some false ethical implications that beautiful people are morally good and in vain people are evil).

Go to any art museum and there are many paintings and sculptures of our centuries old study of human form. Psychological studies have perceived time and again the benefits of looking attractive – beautiful people come forward easier in life and appearance is important, no matter how you feel about them.

What makes it difficult is that vanity, old as it is, has generally been regarded as vacuum, vague and despicable – a little ironic when considering how it has only been until recently (as after the millennium) that beauty conventions have changed from prescribing to expressive. Nobody appreciated being told how to look beautiful before and nobody seems to appreciate how people send their own beauty now. (A resolution: Thinking about your own business either makes a non-problem.)

Social media is the easiest goal because it is the most fruitful petri dish for vanity. Photo filters and these "Instagram Aesthetics" have swapped the beauty standards in quantifiable validation with likes, comments, and followers. Perhaps it's the unwavering thirst for validation (and disappointment in its absence) or abandonment of self-esteem that makes tongues tickle, but since then did you seem to be so despicable? We encourage people to be convinced and to respect themselves, but to remain humble by some obscure standards. Nobody takes advantage of the conditions of others and vanity is above all an extremely personal thing – and one that is not necessarily always appreciated by what you see in your own reflection either.

Certainly, our digital feeds are exceedingly oversaturated, and your eyes can shine over the blue with blue lights, but the cool thing about the democratic platform of handheld vanity is that there's no longer a government that acts as a gatekeeper for what you'll see as beauty. My teenager crested just when the Internet became a home staple in my society. I had no cell phone until college (and it was a flip phone). My only visual signals for beauty came from newspapers, which I eclipsed eagerly. And I did not see anyone who looked like me in the famous context.