Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why Selfies are Weird

I had to change one of my head shots tonight. I thought about taking a new one but I hate cell phone selfies. I don't know why but I can't bring myself to use a cell phone selfie on my blogs and other pages. I have used them but they're usually just terrible. Selfies are just...well, weird and there's no way I can say it any nicer.

They're everywhere, the people who take selfies. On street corners in Washington D.C. or Bangkok, China you will see them. They're easy to recognize. They're the ones standing at an odd angle, arms extended over their heads, making faces at the cell phone, which is held at an impossible angle and their heads canted awkwardly to get just the right look. Only it isn't.

I'm vain. I admit it. It is my biggest fault, aside from my tendency to tell the truth to unwilling victims listeners. No, my vanity is truly bad. I heard a joke once, long ago. A little girl asked her mother if it was vain of her to stand in front of the mirror and think about how pretty she was. The mother replied, "No, that's a delusion." No, I don't do that. I'm making a point. I'm vain.
Image courtesy of  stockimages

It is my vanity that won't allow me to stand in public and contort my body and face just to take a photo that will look horrible. I mean it. It's just too tacky. But apparently, most people don't think so. I can only say, you should have someone else take a photo of you taking a selfie. It could change your life.

You may say that not all selfies are weird but I say name one. There are only a handful of types of selfies. They're very repetitive. The only thing that changes are the subjects and their various protuberances and apparel, which is another blog post entirely. Let's review.

1.  Duck lips: Really, does this need an explanation? I mean there have been videos, expose', slideshows, and blog post about how awful these look. But they keep making them! Did you really even look at those things before you put that up? Your mouth looks deformed and it isn't cute. No one, at least no one I ever knew, made that expression in real life. Seriously. When have you ever looked at your Mama and did that? Had you done so, she'd have slapped you silly. Rightfully so. Really, I don't think anyone but television hookers do that. Are you sure that's the image you're going for?

2. Close-up, really, really, really close up: Do you know how large your pores are? They look like a Florida sinkholes.--- What's those brown blotches on your face? Freckles? Really? --- Wow, I never realized how big your nose is. --- Gee, I never realized how many wrinkles you had! --- had broccoli for lunch.

3. Downward angled shot: I took photography in college so I know that you can shave off age a bit by taking a photo from slightly above level. Overweight folks can slim their features a bit by looking up and using gravity. Older women can reduce the saggy neck in this manner and it does make a better photo. But good grief, you're 20. And a photo taken at an 130 degree angle makes it appear as if you're being attack by a vulture wearing a camera. He's probably after the duck.

4. Mirror,  Mirror: This has to be the golden fleece of all selfies. It often accompanies one or all of the above maneuvers. But think about this. Your head shot is an image of an image of you taking an image of yourself. Really. See, you had to think about that a second, didn't you. And that's weird. Then you add the duck lips.... down right freaky.

5. Location: Bathrooms seem to be the best (in someone's mind) location to take these cell phone selfies. Why? You should think about this. First, no one is looking at you. Take my word for it. They're looking at the room and comparing it to their own bath and thinking:  So, when did you clean that mirror last? Who is your decorator? You should fire them. Uh.... that outfit.... you've gained weight, right? Who's that peaking around the door?

I know there'll be some who think I'm wrong and that's o.k. You just keep doing what you're doing. It provides fodder for writers and comedians everywhere. I probably won't use it again but hey, it got me one post.

Now, I'm not an expert but here's some free advice for anyone planning on creating a new cell phone selfie head shot. First don't. They're horrible. Really horrible. Cell phone cameras are usually bad, I don't care how many mega pixels it has, they take terrible close ups and even worse if you have a flash. Unless you're going for the washed-out, demonic look.

Get a good camera, even computer webcams usually take better photos. Sit back from the camera. You can crop a photo if you want a lot of face in the shot but you can't reduce the same in a close up. If you must use a cell phone, do it outdoors, in good lighting.

Next, fix your hair, brush your teeth, put on something classy if clothes factor into the photo, and for heaven sake, don't poke your lips out. Try a smile. If that doesn't work for you, you can scowl. If you're really in a nasty mood you can snarl. If you want to look cool you can put the sunglasses on and keep your expression blank. Please try not to see if you can look at your own lips.

Use angles with restraint. Tilting the head too far over, looking too far up, looking too far down all do weird things to your face and probably don't help your spine. Experiment with slight angles. The beauty of digital is you can try multiple poses and examine multiple shots, then choose the best one. You can touch up the imperfections with photo software.

Oh, and one last thing. Get a real person to take your photo or get a tripod. Ditch the mirror. Really.


  1. And now there is the must have selfie accessory - the stick to hold it far enough away yo get your friends in the picture too!