Sometimes when I am wearing a cool outfit because I am a glamorous New York girl living life in the fast lane, I will take my iPhone over to my full-length mirror and position it and myself just so, and I will do it.
I will take a selfie.
Selfies are fun. Selfies are you at what you deem your finest. In selfies, your perfect outfit looks right all evening, orchestrated by you and preserved on Instagram for posterity. Selfies are The Best You, The Coolest You, appreciating you, nudging others to appreciate you too. Selfies are like the kind of birthday party you can only throw after you turn 38 and have a lot of money. Selfies add to your little collage of digital being—for all your followers know, you have a horse or a boat and is that piece of furniture we sort of see in the corner an Isamu Noguchi coffee table or some shit from Ikea?! Selfies are like being on reality television without having to do the dumb reunion show. You just take it and it’s there and everyone reacts and then you’re done. Maybe no one on the street stopped you to tell you that you look great, but twenty people essentially said as much on the Internet, so whatever!
Selfies are magical. And yet selfies remain the privilege of the fairer sex. (That means women, for those of you who stopped reading for pleasure after eighth grade.) Men are supposed to Instagram Man Stuff. Like, buildings or food or More Songs About Buildings and Food on vinyl. This is because selfies are vain. Men can be vain, yes, but shameless vanity, the kind in which you are caught displaying, or even promoting, remains the exclusive right of women. You could walk in on a woman staring at herself in the mirror, flanked by shelves of a jillion beauty products and it is absolutely acceptable for her to look up lazily and say, “Oh, fancy meeting you here.” But a preening man is a fop, a square, and maybe even a loser. Guys can care about what they look like, but only while they’re putting on their clothing. After that, you’re supposed to forget you look nice. At least until Tommy Ton trots by.
Selfies are the last line in the sand between menswear and womenswear—a line you are smudging egregiously.
Yet as that concern for your appearance has become more acceptable, and for a larger number of men, so the desire for men to take selfies has grown. It started with photos of your shoes as you rode the subway, the perfectly worn grooves of your tight and expensive jeans, maybe the beautiful collar on your shirt. Men’s selfies remain fractured, disassembled, pieces of outfits—Picassos, baby. But women capture the whole outfit. Our selfies are like well-togged reclining nudes, in which a Proenza top functions as the scintillating curve of a hip and Balenciaga boots as the sinewy slope of abdominal flesh.
And I had thought, I truly believed, that no self-respecting man would take a full body shot. But fellas, I’ve seen them: in front of the mirror, clothed beautifully and sometimes not so, your nervous, awkward eyes glancing at your image reflected back in the iPhone in your hand. “#JilSander #Junya #Nike #farmersmarket.”
Selfies are the last line in the sand between menswear and womenswear—a line you are smudging egregiously. You’ve borrowed everything from us in fashion: wild west high octane fashion weeks, blogging, skinny models (and the accompanying body image issues), even skirts. And we’ve mostly been happy to oblige. After all, men had the right to do just about everything first and you have shared nearly all those rights with women at some point, which was pretty chill.
But when everyone is telling us how to look and act and be and all the other stupid lollipops women get to take out of society’s bank lobby, it feels nice to control everything about the way we look and are perceived, if only for a moment, if only in the smallest box, if only through the smallest lens. In great selfies, nothing is inscribed upon the subject that she does not desire.
I know two weeks ago I told you to wear concealer. But for the love of god, men, let us keep our selfies.