I’ve written before about how the selfie sadly appears to be so monumentally important within the lives of both celebrities and the rest of us mere mortals.
Apparently we all love showing photos of ourselves across social media to an ever increasing degree. I’m a happy and regular user of Facebook and I do post photos when I think I have something amusing, interesting or particularly unusual to show to my friends. However, I am also aware of the constant stream of selfies uploaded by some people in my network, with ever changing profile pictures and selfies taken at all times of the day and night. I’m afraid that to me, this does rather smack of self-indulgence and conceit.
But the thing that really concerns me is the huge increase in celebrity selfies which are all about showing off their bodies. Apparently there is an exponential rise in these narcissistic images, with people parading their newly named ‘body badges’ which include thigh gaps, eight packs and bikini bridges (I had to look that one up – it’s the photo of their bikini bottoms being stretched above hip bones, creating a bridge over the inverted stomach). And it’s these images which are now being blamed for the ever increasing issues with regard to body image and self esteem suffered by both men and women.
The problem is of course that seeing these images daily on Facebook, Instragram, Twitter and Pinterest makes a lot of people believe that these body fads are the only sign of a good healthy body. And the desire to therefore attain the often unattainable can be enormously damaging. The thigh gap and the bikini bridge can of course be achieved with a healthy eating and fitness regime, but it is much easier and quicker to attain by starvation and crash diets. And these in turn can often dramatically increase the chances of the dieter developing eating disorders.
And it’s not just women, apparently 75% of men admit to wanting to achieve an eight pack, a Fight Club torso or even more exaggerated alpha male type bodies. More and more men of all ages are trying to emulate these over the top body images that are almost impossible to accomplish and the effects of failure can be devastating on their sense of worth.
I know there can be some rewards from selfies. Getting compliments about a new photo that has been posted is of course great for confidence but it’s the proliferation of unhealthy and unrealistic body images in these photographs that is dramatically affecting British people’s physical and mental attitude towards their own body image. Apparently over 50% of men and woman have tried or know someone who has tried to get one of these ‘body badge’ looks, with a third of people thinking about these looks often, and - disturbingly - 11% saying they think about it all the time.
Now I’m not saying that celebrities should take all the blame but I do think they should take some responsibility if they choose to show constant streams of photographs of their supposedly idealistic bodies and their ‘body badges’. Their own self gratification is no excuse for the harm this can do to many of their fans. What celebrities should be doing is telling people that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that it’s not bridges, bulges or biceps that are important, but how the body is working on the inside which really counts. The inside is the only real proof of how healthy a body is and at the moment there’s no selfie in the world that can show that.
NOTE TO SELF: The only body badge anyone should want to attain is a healthy one.