Are you the kind who combs your hair before a selfie or do you just go for it?
Image, looks, and the selfie have never been bigger. From the "hot mugshot guy" Jeremy Meeks to the woman who has tongues wagging after spending $30,000 to look like Kim Kardashian to the selfie revolution that now racks up over 1 million self-snaps a day; the old adage that image is everything has never been more true. But while many have said that this growing phenomenon has caused us to become even more concerned about our looks than in previous times, there may actually be something a bit deeper going on beneath the surface.
Sure, on the one hand, beauty and sex appeal will never go out of style. We've all seen the pouting would-be model splattered across Instagram with just the right hair and make-up during #wcw (that's woman crush Wednesdays, for those who might not know). But there seems to be an interesting cultural tug-of-war going that's brewing between the crafted image camp and the natural image camp. In fact, a recent study by Techinfographics, indicates that only 13 percent of females admit to actually retouching their selfies (34 percent of men say they retouch), and just put whatever is natural out there. Look at your own timeline, and I'm sure you'll see many a pudgy face or unflattering outfit getting likes upon likes upon likes, validating the image that's been captured. Celebrated designer Marc Jacobs (though under fire for financial reasons associated with the situation) is even using Instagram to cast genuine people as part of his upcoming campaign to add "fresh faces."
So, is real the new hot?
Could be, but it seems to come with a bit of a caveat. The realness has to be that which the image owner controls and sanctions. Case in point? Just last week "Confused Face Meme Girl" launched a suit against Instagram because its users were posting images from what she felt was an unflattering still lifted from a news report in which she appeared. Similarly, the "Sleeping Baseball Fan Guy" is now suing ESPN, Major League Baseball and others for capturing his image in an unflattering light while dozing in a stadium.
What we have going on here is the rise of the personal brand, that may not only soon have even more legalities around using "likeness" and "image" than a Hollywood star's contract; but more importantly demonstrates that the images have to be authentic -- not necessarily beautiful -- to whatever you want to project your as your personal brand.
And right now the personal brand as projected across selfies seem to be demonstrated in 3 main ways:
1) the repeat offender (i.e. always lying down, always smirking the side smile. They've found what works for them, and they stick with it in monotonous fashion)
2) the selfie-shy (i.e. never caught without a friend or two in the photo, this person is just not yet comfortable with the self on its own, just yet)
3) the perpetrator (i.e. rarely actually in the scene but offering carefully placed props and scenes to represent the aspiring or actual self. )
If you're a Millennial and reading this you are probably more of the star of your own show. If you are a Gen Xer, you may rely more heavily on #2 and #3. But, of course, any mix is possible.
Watch for even more variations to come as the phenomenon continues, but they will be utilized differently depending on the situation. Animated avatars, voice overs, and more are on the horizon. Bitstrips is only the beginning.
This is all part the larger shift to the rise of the individual voice and decline of traditional norms and authority.
So, get ready for your close up as you decide, just what kind of selfie are you?
Follow Lauren DeLisa on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ultra_lauren