From “No Refuge: How Webcams & Cell Phones Ratchet Up the Pressure to be Perfect” by Hugo Schwyzer:
“… A young woman who had been scrupulous about her appearance all day could return to her bedroom at night, change into what was comfortable, and have at least a little waking time where her looks didn’t matter…
“The real problem is that the webcam has stripped the bedroom and the bathroom from their role as safe refuge from the beauty-obsessed culture…”
I find Schwyzer’s points to be particularly poignant to my own life.
Until a few months ago, I had lived either at home, with family who knew me from the day I was born and had seen me in all my glory (and not-so-glorious moments) for twenty-two years, or on my own. During that time, as soon as I would get home I’d change into my pyjamas, wipe the makeup off, and pop the curlers in, not caring what I looked like.
Then I moved in with my cousin, and I kept up appearances for a few days until I realised she likes to bum around the house in holey pants and nose strips, too.
Honestly, I don’t give a crap what I look like at home, and if I don’t want to draw attention to myself, I will adopt my at-home strategy in the big wide world, too.
For example, most mornings I go for a jog as soon as I wake, and usually stop by the supermarket on the way home. I chuck a bit of lipgloss on an whip my hair (though not in true Willow Smith style) into a ponytail, but other than that, I look pretty crappy. If I wanted to be stared at while I exercised, I would go to a juice-head gym in full make-up and a crop top or jog with my friend Tess at her neighbourhood track, where the beautiful people go to workout. But I don’t.
A similar situation occurred at my work Christmas party. I was getting my slut on when I was approached by Jack Sparrow. He initiated contact (both verbal and physical), asking which department I worked in and why he’d never seen me before. Unbeknownst to him, he had seen me before…
… Earlier that day, I rocked up for a few hours to help set up in jeans, a t-shirt, work boots (okay, they were Tony Bianco) and my glasses, where he was also lending a hand. He took one glance at me and continued with his work.
What’s even funnier? The following day I reverted back to my bespectacled self, and he went about his day, not realising that I was the girl from the night before.
I don’t begrudge him that, though. I deliberately do these things to fly under (or above) the radar.
Relating more closely to Schwyzer’s point, however, I’m lucky; my generation managed to bypass the whole webcam/sexting/profile pictured frenzy that consumes the lives of teens now. Who knows what pressures I would have faced—and how differently my psyche would have developed—if my privacy was constantly invaded by mobile phones, Facebook and the like?
Celebrities who are a little younger than I am, though, like Rihanna, Vanessa Hudgens and (the markedly younger) Miley Cyrus have succumbed to the allure of naked photography, with the latter also dabbling in the filming of lap dances to 40-year-old directors and experimentation with bongs.
Personally, I don’t understand the pull of compromising photos. My advice to teen starlets and football players alike? If you’re going to take compromising photos, make sure you’re the only one with a copy or JUST. DELETE. THEM.
Related: ’Tis the Season…