Over the last while I've been increasingly noticing something that has gone from a minor annoyance to something I'm really quite frustrated with.
It'd been simmering for a while, but several people posting and re-posting 9gag article ("26 Times Men Recreate Clichéd Female Instagram Snaps And Nail It (By Bros Being Basic)") kind of hit the tipping point for me.
To be clear, many of the images in the article are pretty funny. Some are even rather hot, and/or simply very inventive. As it was succinctly put by a friend this morning: "it's less the content that's offensive, and more the curation of it".
There seems to be a general unspoken consensus that women posting selfies is one of those 'safe' things to mock. Certainly amongst men, but sometimes amongst women, too. It'd be hard to tell if any women in that number were bothered by this, as many of us are more comfortable sitting quietly through this periodic scatter-shot mockery rather than stand up for something which we're told is narcissistic.
The problem is this: women are constantly told that our appearances are important. The degree of expectation that we will present a certain way - the bare minimum expected effort spent on appearance - is generally much, much higher than for men.
Public judgement of our bodies and personal presentation is far more prevalent than for men, who can wander outside un-shaven, un-showered, in two-day-old pants and sandals without comment in many places.
What this has to do with selfies is this: there is a built-in acceptance that even though women are told our appearances are important, and that our bodies are public property for all to critique, even the slightest hint that we may take pride or pleasure in doing things we're told we effectively have to do anyway is narcissistic and wrong.
This is fundamentally fucked.
The very least that can be done is to not mock women who decide to actively enjoy the experience of playing with their personal style, and choose to be show even a hint at being happy with their body. It doesn't matter how you judge this woman's appearance, either. Whether she's larger, smaller, made-up or 'natural', wearing expensive clothes or op-shop-chic. Her desire to enjoy this aspect of her life that she may not easily be able to escape anyway should never be the target for ridicule or dismissal.
Thing is, this extends to men too. Men Who Take Selfies is almost an even bigger target for mockery, as they are daring to do something which is not only considered a 'feminine' and even immature thing to do, but also daring to take an interest in their personal appearance.
The same thing is seen when a rare event occurs: a new male fashion trend that escapes into the mainstream. Examples I can think of relatively recently are top-knots, which I saw people roundly mocking.
This, also, is fundamentally fucked.
The mockery of men trying anything with their dress and style that isn't ultra-conservative is enormously problematic, as it re-enforces the idea that style and appearance is feminine and that there is something laudable and masculine about not giving a shit how you look.
By engaging in any of this kind of derision or mockery, you are re-enforcing the damaging gender stereotypes that cause problems for people of all gender identities, and are also re-enforcing to young women that their looks, dress and style is not something they can ever fully take ownership or enjoy.