There are many reasons why the average guy would steer clear of taking selfies. Nobody wants to see a dude in a photo, they never look good. Guys who post selfies are full of themselves. Up until recently, I believed that. This was my only selfie for close to three years, and it was largely taken as a joke.
These days, I respond: bullshit.
Selfies can be tasteless if taken to an extreme, but if you’re an average guy who wants to take a snap of his latest outfit or outtake, go for it. Hell, even if you want to show off your jacked body — select a filter and post away. Selfies are you when you feel you’re looking your best. Why should anyone stop you from taking a selfie if the net result is that it makes you feel happy living in your own skin?
That we come down so hard on men wanting to feel handsome stems from the fact that society has a hard time accepting that guys, in fact, care about their looks.
Contemporary society disenfranchises us all by setting unattainable beauty standards, all the while stamping down those who struggle to live up to them. Without a doubt, this happens to women by many, many factors more. Guys have it easy compared to our counterparts.
On our side of the gender line, however, the struggle is slightly different. It’s taboo for men to even admit that they want to look good. It’s cocky for them to think they look good. Guys are rarely ascribed positive adjectives such as “handsome” or “beautiful” — things we’re not told often enough. When we are, we’re told we should feel uneasy, especially when the compliment comes from another male. All these anxieties together help explain the kinds of photos guys do put up of their bodies online. I may not agree with her argument, but Rachel Seville described them best in a Four Pins column: …”fractured, disassembled, pieces of outfits — Picassos, baby.” Almost never a full-body shot; face shots unlikely.
However, the normalization of male selfies can help break down some of these boundaries. Posting them, guys can come to appreciate their own bodies and be proud of them. “Liking” mechanisms on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter give us a neutral way to compliment other men without unfair feelings of awkwardness. When such selfies become more commonplace, guys may even learn that we can appreciate other men’s bodies without the anxiety that it will somehow diminish our own masculinity.
I believe that real-life behaviour increasingly reflects how people interact online, not the other way around. Maybe if guys start taking more selfies, it would be a small step towards breaking down the arbitrary limitations we set on male friendship and how people view men’s beauty. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll soon be able to tell our best friend or sibling, “You’re looking good” without the “… uh, I mean, bro.”