Gemma Styles: 'Beware The Selfie Monster'
The Debrief: Oxford English Dictionary: 'selfie: A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.'
Photograph by Matilda Hill-Jenkins
Selfies have clawed their way from the vacuous past time of the internet’s youth to being an actual proper ‘thing’, like, in the dictionary and everything. You go selfies – you’ve officially made it. As of iOS 9 they even get their own folder on your IPhone. This is the world we live in.
If you tell me you’ve never taken a selfie I probably wouldn’t believe you. You might not post your immaculate eyeliner to Instagram three times a day but at some point you’ve probably sent your friend a snap of your new hair cut. Or something else. You know what I mean – it’s a rare breed of person these days who hasn’t made friends with the front camera.
But for some people, selfies seem to have completely taken over their life… Some of you may remember the shocking case of Danny Bowman that hit the news last year; he eventually attempted suicide after dropping out of school, spending six months housebound and becoming clinically obsessed with the perfect selfie – and ‘failing’ to achieve it.
What really piqued my interest in the topic this week particularly is the Selfie World Championships taking place in London this month. Hosted by the slightly infamous Karen Danzcuk, self-proclaimed ‘Queen of Selfies’. Karen has made a bit of a name for herself in the media thanks to her love of a pretty cleavage-y selfie. So what, right? Well she made it into the papers mainly due to her marriage to now ex-husband, Labour MP for Rochdale, Simon Danzcuk – once her boobtastic selfies hit the press, she came under attack from the Loose Women crew as well as plenty of others, who thought her actions were inappropriate as the wife of an MP and undermined women in politics.
The ticketed event offers entrants the chance to win £1000 and the title of ‘Selfie Champion’ as well as the Golden Selfie Stick trophy. Karen and her elected panel of “selfie critics” will be judging finalists in six different ‘disciplines’ – including the ‘mirror and pout selfie’, which they call 'the go-to stable shot for any self-respected selfie-taker.' Contestants will be judged on the ‘creativity and originality’ of their pose in each category. I literally can’t read the words without making a sort of eye bulging, sighing, head-shaking motion. Which I’m sure wouldn’t make a good selfie... #incredulous
For a start – in the 'mirror and pout selfie' category – please explain to me where the creativity and originality will come in? What are people going to be judged on here? Will one of the selfie critics be there with a protractor to check precise chin tilt angle? Do they get extra points if the brand of the hand soap in the corner of the shot isn’t tested on animals? HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD?
The thing that really riles me about this is the futility of the whole thing. To be clear – this isn’t supposed to be a modeling competition. It’s about the pictures that you take. I honestly just don’t understand the point of it, at all – is it any wonder people with mental health conditions, like Danny Bowman, are being sucked into believing that the perfect selfie is the be all and end all with absolute tripe like this being sold to us? And all for a golden selfie stick?!
I’ve got nothing against selfies in general – when I think my hair looks alright I’ll probably take one, A) because I can do what I want thanks very much and B) to break up the never ending stream of cat photos on my Instagram. But there’s got to be somewhere that a line gets drawn. If you have taken a picture of your face today then that is a selfie and you are a selfie taking GOD in my eyes. I don’t like this idea that normal people, not models, taking pictures of their faces are being pitted against each other like it’s the most important thing in the world. If you like a picture of you whether you’ve got no make up on, dinner cooking in the background or you’ve spent 3 hours setting up the lighting – you do you. And if you want a golden selfie stick you can probably get one on eBay.
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Follow Gemma on Twitter: @GemmaAnneStyles
Photographed by Matilda Hill-Jenkins
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