Ugly selfies are strong on Instagram

This week the New York Times told about a new way of taking selfies that is spreading on Instagram, at least in the United States. They are called “selfies from 0.5”, because on the iPhone the function to obtain them is called “0.5x”: to do them, we use the camera with an ultra wide angle lens that is present on some phones released in recent years. The result is a deformed image that returns bodies with oblong arms, very high fronts or deformed faces.

They won’t make the person who takes them feel attractive, but these selfies feel like they were taken in a casual, messy and fun way, all of which now work very well on Instagram. In recent years, social media has in fact established an aesthetic that seeks imperfection and sometimes even the “ugly”: it is a response of the younger generations, addicted and bored by the glossy aesthetics of advertisements and Hollywood films and in search of more creative, playful and authentic images.

In the case of these selfies, the authenticity is also given by the fact that the wide-angle camera is on the back of the phone: therefore you cannot look at yourself on the screen as you would with a normal selfie, but you have to turn the phone and click a little. blindly or use delayed shooting, as you do with a camera. The New York Times writes that «unlike traditional selfies, for which people can prepare and pose for a long time, selfies 0.5 […] they have become popular because they are anything but cured ».

The refined and glossy aesthetic that had prevailed in the early years of Instagram – rewarded by the platform’s algorithm – has lately lost more and more of its charm to make room for a more realistic and contemporary one. Younger people like it (but not only) because it indicates that one does not take oneself too seriously in talking about oneself on social media, that one does not fear one’s own flaws and clumsiness and that, on the contrary, one gets them noticed. This approach leaves more freedom of expression, allows you to be more creative and above all not to conform to others, something that was once accepted and sometimes sought after, but which is little appreciated by the new generations.

In February, reporter Daisy Jones had described on Vice the evolution towards the ugly of the aesthetics of Instagram. A few years ago, a famous profile photo would probably have shown “luxurious hotel rooms, sparkling photo shoots or a perfectly shot cappuccino next to an open book”, while now it’s more likely “I know, a random license plate from a car. , a photo taken with a flash of some ready-made food or something disturbing like a dead pigeon squashed on the road ».

Jones cites, for example, an Instagram post by model Cara Delevingne that starts with a blurry photo of her as a child and ends with a grainy photo of a car’s running navigator. Or that of actress Brigette Lundy-Paine which contains, among other things, an image of two tacos in low definition that appears to have been taken from a stock photo site. There is also a grainy photo on the profile of model Bella Hadid and an unattractive food photo on the profile of Leandra Medine, the American author who was perhaps among the first to make bad things go out of fashion with her blog. Man Repeller which, as the name implies, spoke of women’s fashion that rejects men.

An Italian example is the profile of the 24-year-old youtuber Sofia Viscardi: the latest selfie published shows her face from below and cut under her nose, as if she had taken a photo by mistake fiddling with her cell phone.

Of course these are examples that are a bit extreme and that do not represent the norm of Instagram: not all Instagram photos are now Like this ugly, but it is true that they are on average more imperfect and have more casual poses than in the past. Often this type of photo is desired and follows well-defined aesthetic rules, albeit not very canonical.

This trend began before the pandemic, but according to some it may have been accentuated by the habit, born during the lockdown, of photographing what you had at hand, at a time when half the world was closed at home and people too. most famous ones didn’t have particularly interesting lives or exclusive content to publish.

Jones pointed out that the aesthetic of ugliness is not limited to posting photos on Instagram but has also arrived in fashion, for example with the success of the Crocs, the resin clogs known for their ugliness, of knitted things. with holes and irregular shapes, uncultivated eyebrows and dark circles: for a while on TikTok there was even talk of how to accentuate them using a brown lipstick.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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