Sunday 22 April 2018

Angela Scanlon: Kim Kardashian and the cult of the selfie conscious

Angela Scanlon
Angela Scanlon
Shoe crush: Camilla Elphick shoes

Angela Scanlon

Selfie was the most hashtagged word on Twitter last year, used a whopping 40 million times. It made it into the Oxford dictionary, defined as follows: "A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn't necessary".

Good to know. Of course, even though it's a relatively new phenomenon, it's hard to remember a time when the selfie wasn't a thing.

Your granny does it, Ellen DeGeneres does it, your six-month-old niece does it… We share them on Whatsapp and Facebook, on Twitter and Instagram. They are everywhere. They document our most brilliant moments, our greatest feats and our biggest 'fails'.

But even though they're everywhere, every minute of every day, there's still something a little alien about it.

Don't get me wrong I do it, I take a few like everyone else, sometimes voluntarily pursing my face to look uncharacteristically sulky (I was going for sultry but it never quite works for me). I move to the closest window, turn just a touch to the side, shoot from above - all the things that should be industry secrets are second nature.

But generally I do this in the privacy of my own home. If I've got to, for whatever reason do it in public, my default is a ridiculous mask-like contortion that feels more LOL that Lolita. There is a limit to how far I'll go, how many I'll take. If it's not happening I have the good grace to give up, but this is something that seems to elude some other people. Kim Kardashian, who has recently published a book of her selfies and arguably built a career on those and her bum, takes, on average, 300 shots before settling on the final image that's perfect enough for public consumption. Three hundred.

Of course, getting the right angle, the right pose and all that is only the first step… once you choose the shot you add a filter and pull up the light, nip and tuck if you feel the urge, blur out the bits you don't love, highlight the stuff you do. Multiple apps arm you with the tools of a professional photographer and photoshopper to create an image that is worthy of a thumbs-up or a love heart.

Last week I watched a girl take no less than 20 minutes in a coffee shop shooting herself. Taking picture after picture of herself from every imaginable angle with every conceivable expression.

There was the 'duck' - which is so done - the pout; the peace sign; a casual wink; a giant grotesque smile; a seductive lip nibble; a completely faked belly laugh… She gave me such an amazing range I was in awe. No inhibitions, no self-consciousness, just her eye on the prizes.

I was half disgusted by what felt like extreme vanity but also kind of envious of her absolute lack of awareness of how this might have looked to others.

She was kind of free. In the moment, even if that moment was weirdly theatrical. She didn't even see us around her, wasn't conscious of our eyes on her as she did this merry little selfie dance in the corner.

But then I guess she seeks approval in the virtual world rather than the real world. That is where she's judged, not in that quiet little cafe by a stranger.

Shoe crush

There is something utterly magical about a pair of metallic shoes, make them ankle boots and

the magic doubles. These beauties by Camilla Elphick have been keeping me awake at night....


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