Call me selfish, but I think selfies are great. Instagram, the behemoth of photo-sharing social network apps, has created a place where women can be portrayed how they choose.
While lots of men use the app, Instagram users are overwhelmingly female. Nearly 70 percent of its accounts belong to the fairer sex. Clearly the concept of taking perfect snapshots and cataloging them forever appeals more strongly to women. Here’s why: Instagram helps us reclaim the feminine mystique we seem to have lost in our ever increasingly social world. What you see in our feeds, may or may not be what you get in real life, and that’s okay. I mean, we don’t contour our faces everyday, but when we do, it gets Instagrammed.
Nothing Lasts Forever, Especially Looks
Allow me to digress for a moment. I recently had an Uber driver share with me the story about how he met his wife fore the very first time on his wedding day. His parents had arranged the marriage, and all he had seen of his bride-to-be before the big day was a photograph. Lucky for him, he got everything he wanted in a wife: tall and a devout Muslim.
Growing up in Bangladesh, he knew that his marriage would be arranged by his parents. As a boy, he wished to find a wife who took her religious beliefs seriously, as opposed to all of his friends who just hoped for someone sexy. Beauty doesn’t matter, because it’s gone in 10 years, he explained.
While I disagree with him on the duration of our looks — we totally have longer than 10 years of looking good, thanks in part to hair dye and eye cream– he does make a point: beauty fades. One day, everyone’s skin turns pruney. So let us enjoy our looks while we have them.
Let us selfie and be merry, for tomorrow, we won’t be spry.
Let us enjoy our day in the sun, before we dry up and sag like a heavy load.
Why Men Age Better Than Women
We’ve all heard the myth: men age better than women. While I think this is totally false, it reveals a disparity in how men and women are treated as they age. Men are told that they improve as they age, while women are reminded that their looks are quickly fading.
The comments started when I was about 12 years old. Older women would say: “You won’t be able to eat like that forever, it will all catch up with you one day,” or “wear all of the fun eyeshadow you want now, because you won’t be able to soon, with crinkled eyelids.” My mom, aunts, and even my friend’s moms would remind me to use eye cream and wear sunscreen everyday to ward off gravity’s toll. “If you don’t start doing this now, you will hate yourself in 15 years,” they would say. Before I had even become a woman, I was continually reminded that I had an expiration date.
I’m not saying that men never fear aging. I’m sure many of them do, but I think they must do so silently. Women however, are obsessed with aging. We have books, movies, and TV shows all centered around getting older and experiencing menopause. We have warehouses of makeup and beauty supplies to trick people into thinking that we’re still young and fertile. Seriously, lipstick was invented to accentuate how ready we are to bear children. Red lips are a biological indicator of fertility, and loose their color with age. So we invented tubes of mush that we smear on ourselves no one would know our child-bearing years were over. Men don’t do this to themselves. They don’t build Sephoras or create deceitful skin products, instead they “get better with age.”
Because we’re told that our looks will expire soon, we have to make the most of it. Every selfie we upload to Instagram is like a souvenir for our older-selves to cherish in the future.
No One Wants A Grandma Who Looks Like A Prune
As a kid, I remember seeing photos of my great-grandmothers when they were young. Not to brag, but I have hot ancestors. They had luscious locks, long lashes, and lovely legs. These photos however, were few and far between. How I wish they could have had Instagram accounts, because I would love to scroll through their feeds. But even with the scant photographic evidence we had, everyone in my family was aware of how lucky our grandpas were to have snagged them.
I want what my grandmothers had. I want my grandchildren to know what I looked like when I was young. But I want more, too. I want them to see pictures of my food, my coffee, and my outfits. I want to pass down a legacy of being cherished like my grandmothers were, and give them a peek into what everyday life is like in 2015.