SELFIE CONSCIOUS Taking matters into our own hands
Our smart phones have created an instantly gratified selfie culture. So what are the effects on fashion and the way we preceive trends and beauty? Aisling O'Loughlin gives us her take...
Such an audacious act, the selfie. The bit that makes it so brazen is pressing the button and posting your mug for all to see and rate. The rest is understandable. Of course we’re curious about ourselves. What are we even doing here?
Examining our faces, whether in admiration, disapproval or just plain interest, is to be expected considering we’re generally looking outwards. Smartphones have changed everything. We’re not waiting on anyone to take the shot. We’re giving ourselves the starring role, with the angle and light that best suits our features. It’s easy peasy. Flip the lens and off you go. We’re all it. From monkeys to presidents, we’re like kids with a new toy.
Does it make us a bunch of vainers? Who cares. We don’t have to defend ourselves. The Kardashians, God bless them, have given us the green light. We are free to backstroke in self indulgence and once you ditch any sneeriness about such unseemly behaviour, it’s actually quite liberating.
From a fashion perspective, the ubiquitous #OOTD otherwise known as Outfit of the Day has freed up who dictates what’s fashionable and what’s not. It couldn’t be more democratic. There’s a tribe for everyone, you just have to find yours.
As street style images become more highfalutin, the humble #OOTD shot will always slow that ever moving index finger for a longer gaze.
The best bit is you don’t have to look like Gigi Hadid to be part of this fashion club. It’s open to everyone, no matter your age, shape or ethnicity. The message is powerful. Beauty comes in many forms and so does style. The #inspo or inspiration is global. It’s an all in. Connection with real human beings and their everyday details, however humdrum, make for a winning online formula.
This high speed shift has diluted the power and influence of fashion bibles like British Vogue and their delicate advertising arrangements. Incoming editor Edward Enninful will have to adapt fast to stay relevant in the digital age.
Those barbed comments by outgoing fashion director Lucinda Chambers in Vestoj magazine revealed the frustrations of working in such a constrained environment.
“The June cover with Alexa Chung in a stupid Michael Kors T-shirt is crap,” Chambers remarked of a Vogue shoot she’d done under commercial constraints. “He’s a big advertiser so I knew why I had to do it. Truth be told, I haven’t read Vogue in years …The clothes are just irrelevant for most people – so ridiculously expensive.” Meow!
Considering the word ‘selfie’ only entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, it’s impact has been monumental. Even the lofty world of art is beginning to take note.
London’s Saatchi gallery has extended its exhibition From Selfie to Self Expression examining our preoccupation with selfies and how they are influencing our perception of art.
Award winning journalist and novelist Will Stor told a jam packed symposium presented by Huawei last week, ‘Humans have and are always seeking validation. The selfie world dates back 2,500 years. In Ancient Greece you had to be a hustler and an individual to make your mark, with this evolving into the adoration of the self. The selfie is the modern adaption of this. In this way, Van Gogh and Kim Kardashian aren’t so different’.
So what of the future of the selfie? Apparently it’s about to up a gear, to something more meaningful. A more attuned viewership will demand a higher quality, that represents something bigger with a message. In the meantime, it’s back to belfies (that bum is looking good Jessica Simpson, thanks for sharing) and more tips on how to contour a la Kim K, a painterly master in her own right.
And you can find Aisling O’Loughlin’s fashion column and double page style spread every week in The Irish Mail on Sunday’s Magazine.