Week 11- Social Animals – The perfect Selfie

Helik van Rynswoud, 2019

During the previous weekend, I watched a documentary on Netflix called Social Animals, directed by Jonathan Ignatius Green, 2018.

The documentary analyses the way the social media app Instagram influenced different people, all with the use of photography. Instagram became a way for people to connect, portrait themselves and their lives, and even to date. The movie analyses how the app changed the lives of two teenage girls. One is a daughter of a well-succeeded businessman, lives in a mansion, is bold and has what the internet considers an “ideal body” for the current days. She constantly posts pictures of herself, her friends and of her lifestyle in the privileged situation where she is at the moment. Her account reached a large number of followers and she used her popularity as a business tool, launching a brand of designer clothes under her name.

The second girls started the account with the same intention, the popularity contest amongst teenagers. This time is a Midwestern teenage girl looking to fit in the school and aiming to be more popular. This time it did not go as well as the first girl, she suffered bullying from her classmates and had to eliminate every single one to “move on”. The effects of social media did not stop there, as her future boyfriend broke up with her because she did not have a “perfect body”. As a consequence, she was mentally affected and tried to commit suicide. So, in this scenario, if you don’t have the perfect bikini body or doesn’t have a perfect face, this can work against your image.

The culture of the “perfect body” affects more the children in some areas than others, I would say that in countries such as The United States and Brazil, the body image became very important. In the United Kingdom I feel that it still exists, but not on the same strength as in the other cultures. The power of the image will define your social relations and who you are. Me, as a parent, feel that I should talk extensively about this issue with my daughter especially, as the girls are more prone to get hurt for body image related issues when going through teenagerhood.

As I have been working with portraits and personal image, I am thinking about creating an Unperfect selfie project, where I would be able to work with people and explore this subject, wherein the society we live now there is a constant pressure to look perfect in every photo. Maybe I could help people to find ways of self-expression using photography as a tool, but exploring different aspects about themselves, something a little beyond the perfect selfie.

At the top image, I was attempting to create a certain appearance that I sometimes encounter amongst the Latin community. The desire to look “blonde and fabulous” can be maybe an attempt to adequate more to the local European looks, and also an influence of the music imagery and celebrities.


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