Taking selfies is one of those trappings of contemporary life that frequently draws great ire from commentators, experts and punters alike.
Selfies are arrogant; they’re in poor taste. They’re even, as many studies will attest, bad for your health. Associated with the vapidity and self-obsession of teenage girls, Kardashian sisters and their ilk (read: women) selfies have long been the much-derided media product of the iGeneration.
In fact, I love selfies, and take them almost every day. My social media is full of them: taken from various angles and locations, in different states of dress and to express myriad different things. I know exactly what people (my sisters, my mother for example) think of my snap-happy hobby. Nevertheless, I persist.
But I haven’t always been a fearless selfie sharer, and my love for the medium has, in the past, collided with my fondness for the most unfortunate, “thickest” Kardashian, Khloe, especially when she published an article on her Khloe With A K app encouraging followers to use her “5 Hacks To Look Thin AF In Pics”.
It's here I’ll point out Khloe isn’t even close to being “fat” by any basic medical or descriptive standards – except perhaps by some bizarre socialite/celebrity metric. Unsurprisingly, her new photo tips are nothing revolutionary. They include angling the lens down, rather than up toward your double chin; never being caught dead (or alive) in horizontal stripes; and, my personal fave, hiding your fat body behind your thinner friends.
Look, I can absolutely empathise with the natural desire to look good in a photo. Photos last forever – and they can pop up anywhere on the internet. And for as long as I’ve been cognisant of my own image and how it affects others, I’ve been concerned with how I look in pictures.
Which is exactly why I don’t need tips on how to look “Thin AF” in pics.
I don’t have a thin face, or a thin body. When I smile, my cheeks expand and the line under my chin becomes two. My body looks wide no matter if I’m wearing horizontal stripes, pink polkadots, a skimpy bikini or a slimming Little Black Dress. Because my body is wide, and no trick of the camera is going to hide that.
And that is exactly the problem with “advice” like Khloe Kardashian’s: the idea that there’s anything wrong with being fat – or, worse, with putting your fat body unapologetically in a photo for all to see, not hidden or magicked to appear slim.
When I first downloaded Instagram, my feed was full of photos of the other. Other people, other things: my friends, my house, my food, my stuff, my walk to work. I was so terrified of posting photos of myself, of exposing my fatness to my followers – as if they didn’t already know exactly what I looked like.
I wasn’t even scared that someone would comment on the photo: “Look how fat Matilda is in this picture ha ha ha!”. Even if someone did that, they wouldn’t be telling me anything I hadn’t already told myself.
I was most scared of me, of what I would see in those photos when I scrolled back through my feed (as I knew I would) and was caught by my own eyes peeking out of my round face. Of what I would say to myself and how that would set back my fledgling self-esteem. I’d spent a good deal of my teenage years avoiding mirrors, glass reflections, photo albums. I didn’t feel familiar enough with myself to tackle the boldness of a selfie.
But I’m not one to turn down a challenge so, despite the fear, I gave it a go. I snapped one selfie, and another. And a few more.
Then I fell in love with it: capturing frames of my own face and body to look at. And it became a kind of exposure therapy, to encourage me to get used to myself, double chin and all. I found I didn’t need any hacks, because I liked my look just how it was.
And now, for better or worse, my Instagram feed is chockers full of photos of me – low-angled, horizonal-striped, bursting out in front of my thinner friends, proudly enjoying my fat body and the way it looks in photos too numerous to count.
So, here’s my one photo hack for you all: front to the camera, snap, post, repeat!
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