What’s the worst thing you can think of to say about selfies? That they encourage our young people to spend too much time making duck face and not enough working to bring about world peace? How about the fact that they’re providing heaps upon heaps of jerk-off material to pedophiles the world over, and also that they legitimize teen sexting?
That’s the opinion of the people behind a Twitter and Instagram campaign started in response to a fairly harmless seeming (if slightly annoying) selfie contest launched by Australia’s Next Top Model. To enter, fans were asked to take a digital self-portrait and tag it “#ANTMselfie.” The winner of the contest—no doubt chosen for her generosity of spirit—would, and will, get a “VIP experience” of the show’s finale, being flown to the live taping and having her magnificent work of selfie art published in Cosmopolitan. It’s the Australian way!
Unfortunately for ANTM and the gods of vanity, not everyone sees it that way, and a group called Collective Shout decided this would be the perfect time to engage in a bit of “culture jamming.” They took over the tag with some selfies of their own, only these selfies involved not faces, but angry words about why it’s bad to show faces:
“When girls are judged primarily on the basis of their appearance and sex appeal, the implication is that their worth lies in their physical attractiveness, and in conforming to increasingly narrow standards of beauty,” writes collective member Melinda Tankard Reist. “This message limits women and girls and we must be vocal in rejecting it.” She also writes that the snapshots (which, like I said, are mainly of faces) “legitimize” the “risky behavior” of teen sexting and may very well end up on pornography sites. Well then.
While I agree that it’s what’s inside that counts, we live in a shallow, looks obsessed culture, and this hardly seems like the most egregious manifestation of that. Plus, the photos people entered into the contest—which range from your average boring face shots to some fairly creative, or at least expressive images—are pictures you’d have to use quite a bit of imagination to masturbate to. But even if they do end up on porn sites, wouldn’t it make more sense to go after the people responsible for generating kiddie porn in the first place than to try to ban all teenagers from posting any and all pictures of themselves on social media? Why are we holding teens responsible for keeping people from creeping on them? Isn’t that a little bit like saying “she was asking for it”?
As much as I enjoy a good online shit storm, this seems too frivolous to even pretend to get worked up over. Or, as my buddy Jenna Sauers writes at Racked, it’s “a pretty silly misapplication of finite feminist resources.”