I was going to call this post My Selfie, My Self, and pat myself on the back for my cleverness, but then I realized that’s the title of that New York Times article going around, and I don’t want this to be like that time that kid in my Intro to Poetry class wrote a poem about having ocean water in his veins and everybody called him out for unintentionally co-opting Modest Mouse lyrics.
But this post is about selfies. Whenever I read a defense of the medium I groan at the lengths people go to to explain away narcissism. Just own it already. I don’t think I look particularly good in this elevator photo, but I do like that I look kind of mysterious, and thin. Also, let’s not pretend that posting a hot picture your husband or friend took on the internet is any less vain than posting a picture you took yourself, because you’re making the same judgment call (I want people to see how good I look) either way.
I’m hyper-conscious of being perceived as vain, so I rarely make pictures of myself public, even though I’d like to. I’m also wary of presenting a dishonest picture of myself, so I tend toward posting unflattering pictures–you know, no makeup, messy hair, pulling a stupid face. Flattering photos feel like a lie. Or, maybe, I’m worried that even the good pictures aren’t pretty so I post bad pictures to preempt criticism. “Look how quirky she is,” people will think, instead of, “Look how blotchy her skin is.”
While we’re making confessions, I’ll say that I never really liked my face. I have big pores, and small eyes, and shapeless brows, and creases on my forehead and around my mouth. When I was 19, a boyfriend told me I looked old, and that stuck with me. Robert tells me he was wrong, and I don’t believe him. But, what do you know, my daughter has the same creases I do around her mouth when she smiles, and the same small eyes, and the same rounded nose, and she’s beautiful, so maybe Robert is on to something. Also, I’m increasingly starting to wonder, what’s so bad about looking old?