16 June, 2021

Making You, In Your Own Image

Narcissism is everywhere. Leave the selfie alone.

Making You, In Your Own Image

I have sworn to myself that if one more op-ed writer goes for the strapline ‘are selfies a dangerous narcissistic fad’, I will find them and throw a print of Egon Schiele’s filthy, beautiful Nude Self-Portrait in Gray with Open Mouth at them. So it’s really funny that I am now addressing exactly that question in this essay. I do still reserve my right to throw other things at you (maybe Amrita Sher-Gil’s Blood-Lipped Smiles?) if you make a sanctimonious point of it.

So let’s start with the material conditions: selfies assume wealth. You need a camera or a smartphone to be able to take them. You need internet to upload them on Facebook or Instagram. For all these things, you need a fair amount of money. If you are planning to circulate these selfies, you also need to live in a place with access to internet. In other words, selfies, like most other things to do with visibility, req­uire a lot of privilege. Selfies are also often about being in expensive clothes at expensive places, doing expensive things. They are...

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