by ZOE FOSTER
You know how sometimes a person takes a photo of you and your friends, and you look REALLY TERRIFIC, but Katie has her eyes half closed and Vanessa is on an unflattering angle but you look REALLY TERRIFIC so you put that photo up on Facebook?
Let’s be honest, you’re a bit of a shit. But you’re also completely normal. And because I’m probably not allowed to call readers “a shit” without some kind of statistical back up, here it is: In a study done by MyMemory.com last week, (a photo gift website) of 1500 women, one in four admitted they post deliberately unflattering photos of their friends.
The word ‘deliberately’ is what smacks my gob, because I thought – as per the example I opened with – that this act was chiefly driven by the same kind of adorable vanity the compels us to take 35 selfies in a row when we think we look pretty. (Mine are always in the back of a taxi for some reason.)
But no, according to the study, most of these women were doing it after falling out with their friends, or – wait for it – because they’d had it done to them, and it was retribution time. Cute!
The photo sabotage doesn’t end there, though: two fifths of the women surveyed admitted to uploading pics of friends with no makeup or in unflattering bikini shots. And when asked to take them down, the request was ignored.
Who are these women? How good can you really look in a single photo that justifies publishing a photo of poor Mel without a whisper of concealer on her spots, or Brooke mid-getting out of the pool like some form of reptilian swamp beast? Have we reached a level of self-obsession that negates basic human consideration?
Like me, you’re probably sitting in your gumboots and your terry-towelling tracksuit with your pipe wondering why we women do this to one another. Why would we purposefully make one of our own look bad on a public forum? And even if she did it to us, why perpetuate the venom? Why not just send her a very honest email saying:
– I am ashamed to admit this photo being online is killing me inside a bit
– Is there any chance you might be able to crop me out or take that shot down?
– I have attached a photo in which you look absolutely breathtaking, can you not put that up instead of the one where I am dirtfaced and making out with that guy in the Bintang singlet?
To me, photo sabotage is in direct and violent contrast to the sisterhood, which is something I support vehemently, and yet I reckon even sisterhoody dames do it every now and then, probably unthinkingly. I honestly believe (hope?) that a lot of the time, this stuff happens without any of that seedy retribution gear or poisonous intent, it’s just people putting up photos they think are fun, funny, sexy (of them), or committing the worst crime of Facebook known to man, woman or wallaby: downloading every single photo from the night without any editing.
I quit Facebook years ago, for many reasons, but one of them was that I hated the lack of control I had. (This is mirrored in my approach to, well, everything, really.) Photos were popping up of me doing wildly inappropriate things – I was single with a penchant for Whisky for while there; they were heady times – but also there were dinguses who uploaded photos from high school, or Uni or NYE 2001: photos I hadn’t even known existed, and I didn’t feel comfortable having on global display as a professional woman. It’s less conceit (notice I didn’t say “not” conceit) and more the idea that we should do right thing by our friends. If you know someone is going to hate a photo you have of them dancing on a table, then don’t put it on the Internet.
Taking photos of people when they’re being baboons or look less-than-best for your own albums, fine. Putting them online and tagging them with names, not fine. (Screen-printing them and selling them at the markets, minus fine.)
Zoe is an author, columnist and porridge fan. Her books include the beauty bible Amazing Face, dating and relationship guide Textbook Romance, and three novels, Air Kisses, Playing The Field and The Younger Man. Find more info on her here, or supervise on her daily procrastination here and here.
Please understand that Zoë cannot respond to ALL your questions – but never fear, there are readers that are bound to know the answers, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Are you guilty of Facebook-sabotaging your girlfriends?