Ugly Selfies: Rejecting Validation Through Irony

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004_Rodarte-NinaW-11_NinaWesterveltPhotographed by Nina Westervelt.
Word on the street is ugly selfies are the new black. The more chins, the more cross-eyed, and the more Miley-tongue, the better. If you have a Snapchat account, you've probably encountered fleeting seconds of your SC contacts' mugs squished up in "unattractive" expressions. (This author is known to send Snaps while his face hardens under a face mask because #prettyhurts.) The days of duck face and sorority girl arm — that hand on the popped hip pose — are over. The days of self-deprecation and ironic selfies are, to use a term the kids are throwing around, thriving.

The New York Times just discovered the movement and launched an investigation into the tongue-in-cheek world of the selfie's latest trend. Pamela Grossman, Getty's director of visual trends, believes we're entering an era of "perfection fatigue" where people — specifically girls — are becoming bored with succumbing to the near-constant societal pressure to look flawless. "I think girls are tired of it," filmmaker Cynthia Wade told the Times. "They’re suddenly much more willing to embrace the ugly or ironic." (Wade's short film, "Selfie," documented 18 teenage girls taking exploring their imperfections through the selfie.)

Comparing yourself to what the world deems pretty is a daily — heck, hourly — occurrence. Selfies are typically used for some sort of validation, and wind up on Hot or Not-like sites that drive the nail deeper into the perfection coffin. The rise of the ugly selfie shows a rejection of that; a means of flipping the bird at beauty conventions. Stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Miley Cyrus, and even Christian Bale have all done this in one way or another.

"The ugly selfie, then, is a kind of playful slice of authenticity in an age where everything seems airbrushed to perfection," NYT's Jessica Bennett writes. The movement has picked up steam on the Internet with Tumblrs like Pretty Girls Making Ugly Faces garnering loads of notes and reblogs faster than an ugly selfie disappears on Snapchat. The squished faces might not ever grace the cover of, say, Vogue, but the attention they draw and our ability to poke a little fun at ourselves is refreshing. Achieving the perfect selfie requires a lot of work, a lot of retakes, and a lot of time choosing which filter looks best. The ugly selfie, however, takes seconds: squinch, cross the eyes, and snap. After all, word on the street is the uglier the selfie, the closer the friendship. Happy snapping. (The New York Times)