Scroll through your Facebook newsfeed and all of your ‘friends’ will have you believing that they moonlight as part-time models. Striking poses. Smizing. Be it the classic ‘conveniently-and-perfectly-catch-the-light’ beauty shot, or the ‘I’m-so-geeky-that-I’m-actually-cool’ goofy face. In the trendiest get-up. Looking as though they rock around with a hair brush / barber always primed to step up.
And that’s great. All of that is good, clean fun. It feels great to show the world an image of yourself at your best. Look good – feel good: a perfectly justifiable aphorism. But something occurred to me, then that idea nestled in and really got me thinking.
And there was a very particular prompt.
I got home from work, after the 1hr and 20minute journey. I helped my mum tend to my baby niece and nephew, getting them ready for their dad to come and pick them up. I prepared and ate some dinner. I made myself a cup of tea. And then I finally sat down on the edge of my bed, kicked off my winter boots and tied up my hair. Then I glanced in my full length mirror and caught sight of the image of me.
What I saw was... well, me. Unpreened. No touch ups. Not even a quick swipe of Carmex. Just me, after a long day. Me, mentally mapping out how I was going to spend the rest of the evening. Me, quietly living, in a way that’s only truly possible when you are completely unobserved. The young woman that exists beneath the daily beauty routine and wardrobe raid and seemingly sunny disposition. And as I caught sight of that image, one phrase landed in my mind with a gentle thump. ‘Self Portrait’.
Go to the National Portrait Gallery, and the self portraits will fail miserably on a Facebook Profile Pic checklist. It’s all straight faces and no make-up. Missing ears and mere hints of a smile. I think there is a good reason for this. I think these images present an acute honesty. An upfront portrayal. A true portrait.
So I can’t help but think that Instagram filtering, a perfectly coiffured Brazilian weave and expertly applied red lipstick don’t have quite the same end result. Not even close. So who is it that your Facebook avatar says that you are? And how far is the disparity between that, and the You sat in the edge of your bed?
Food for thought I suppose, in true pensivebuddha style.