After being named 2013’s word of the year, the “selfie” storm is reaching a deafening crescendo. People are risking life and limb in search of an exciting twist to the formula. Classes are available at London’s #SelfieSchool for those desperate to brush up on their selfie techniques. There are even tutorials available for teaching dogs to take selfies.
But if all of those options fail you in your quest for the perfect selfie, there is still one option available: spending tens of thousands on plastic surgery to ensure you’re always putting your best face forward online.
That’s the route Triana Lavey, a Los Angeles-based talent manager. She spent $15,000 on improving her “weak jaw,” boosting her cheek definition with fat implants, regular botox shots, and more, in a bid to achieve “the face I always thought I had.”
“I look like myself”, she told ABC News, “but Photoshopped”.
The trend is not altogether new. Last year, Vocativ reported on a wave of “Facebook facelifts” taking in place in India, as users turned to plastic surgery to increase their chances of finding a partner online. But Lavey suggested that the pressure has only been increased by apps like Instagram, which skew real-life expectations with enhancement filters.
“These apps and filtering and all of it, it skews our perception of how we should look,” she said. “It’s making ourselves hold ourselves to a higher unrealistic standard.”
The added pressures and self-policing of body images that social media can bring was demonstrated starkly by the case of Danny Bowman, a British teenager who became suicidal after trying thousands of times to take the “perfect selfie.”
It would be premature to suggest that Lavey’s actions, or the anxiety felt by some in regards to selfies, is symptomatic of a larger cultural trend. ABC even suggested that Lavey’s selfie spin on her plastic surgery may be to some extent deliberate self-promotion.
“Your selfie is your head shot so you can reinvent yourself every day,” Lavey argued. “It’s a legitimate form of promoting yourself.”
Like a true PR spin doctor, Lavey wants it both ways: to condemn the societal expectations fostered by app-enhanced selfies while also succumbing to that same pressure through cosmetic surgery.
Perhaps her best move from here would be simply step away from her smartphone.
If Lavey is serious about her criticisms of modern perceptions of beauty, then she might also want to think about what impression her own search for artificial perfection will make on others worrying about body image.
Perhaps it’s time to step away from the cameraphone.