We all know that selfies have taken over the Internet. There are memes about them, hashtags about them and even songs dedicated to them. No doubt they feed our egos and ever present desire for attention, but is there something more dastardly underneath it all?
While driving home from work the other day, I came across the new “#SELFIE” anthem on the radio. Right as I was about to change stations, fearing my ears might explode, one of the lines struck me as interesting, “Can you guys help me pick a filter? I don’t know if I should go with X Pro or Valancia, I wanna look tan.” As I pondered the line, I started to think of all of the Instagram pictures that I have come across of what appeared to be black folks using filters to brighten or lighten themselves, and white folks conversely darkening or tanning themselves. After some research, I even came across several articles that offered tutorials on which filter makes for the best fake tan. This led me to wonder; is the rise of Instagram and all of its filters really just fueling deep seeded self-hatred?
Using Photoshop and filters to tweak your appearance is nothing new. But when you start using these image editing platforms to alter things like your skin tone, you start reaching murky territory. Magazines have notoriously come under fire in the past for using Photoshop to lighten black public figures. Cries of colorism and racism rung out when Beyoncé was famously lightened for a L’Oreal ad. Now, however, it’s no longer just ad agencies who are capitalizing off of skin altering editing. With the emergence of Instagram, you at home can now be proactive about your self-hatred and darken or lighten your skin to your heart’s content. But what does this say about our society? We are apparently obsessed with not only changing our physical features but our identities entirely. By changing our skin tones are we also subconsciously distancing ourselves from our cultures and backgrounds? Just something to think about when you go to snap that next #selfie.
Peep “#SELFIE,” by The Chainsmokers below and then have fun trying to get it out of your head.