As a lady who is kind of a tomboy and friends with a lot of straight guys, I hear men talk about women all the time, specifically their looks and how crazy they are. Ladies, if you got a nice butt, you better put dat ass on Instagram because the men will hit you UP. I say this not because I’ve plastered my rear end onto the Instagram and know from experience, but because I know that thanks to Instagram, guys can now spend idle moments of their lives scrolling through images of women’s bodies in bikinis on the beach and they just talk about it constantly. I was at work, surrounded by empty plastic bags, trucker hats and surfers in wetsuits when I found my woman’s perspective being the shrill voice in a male dominated conversation. Chance and his crew of surf rats were all hanging out at the store, taking a break from surfing while I priced hats. “Jenn, you could just go to the beach wearing a scandalous bikini and hold a surfboard and you could probably get sponsored,” Chance was telling me, holding up a picture of a girl in a thong next to a surfboard on his phone. “You don’t even need to know how to surf,” he added. I started scrolling through picture after picture of girls on the beach, cleavage and ass cheek everywhere. “Ugh, I don’t like having wedgies, and I really don’t want a wedgie photographed so close up,” I said thinking about all the times I’ve disappeared into the stock room to relieve myself of wedgies and looking at my audience of tan, broad shouldered surfer guys, who were all staring at me, cringing every time I said “wedgie.” “Thats what it is, these girls are running around with string up their ass and string covering their nipples, those girls aren’t running out into the ocean, they are so constricted by the placement of all that string, one turn of the head and that nip-.” I trailed off realizing this was a pointless argument given my present company, whose eyes were slowly glazing over as I went on and on. “What about people’s personalities? What about things like sense of humor or intelligence or ability to carry on an interesting conversation?” I continued, sounding like a naggy old bag. “That’s important too,” Chance said, “I once dated a girl with huge boobs, but I dropped her so fast.” “Why?” I asked. “Because she had this little dog that she carried around in her purse. Like, she took this dog with her when I took her on a date to a rooftop bar and it was just so odd. Why did she put that animal in her purse and bring it, I just never understood,” Chance said, shuddering at the memory. I had stopped listening at the association of little dogs and large breasted women being boring, because they are, and had begun shoving the empty plastic bags from the shipment box into my shirt, in a matter of minutes transforming myself from an undeveloped chest to one worthy of being Instagrammed. I stood up, examining my new curves, “I’m..sexxxyyy now,” I proclaimed, sticking them out and noticing how much better my shirt now fit. “WHAT are you doing?” Chance said, “take that stuff out. Don’t be weird.”
“These babies will fall when I hit fifty,” I said, examining my lumpy chest in the mirror, “all of those boobs on Instagram will,” I told them. “Think about THAT.” As I took out all the plastic bags, I continued my rant. “You have to think of girls as old ladies,” I said over everyone’s groans and comments like “ew, sick.” “If you fall in love with someone in their twenties, you have to remember, one day they will be old, and their long pretty hair will be grey and styled in that poofy grammie do’ the one that must be the product of some sort of perm or heat and rollers, I’m not quite sure how they all get that hair, but they do, it’s an inevitable fact of life. And they better not care about being old, and they better be funny and want to travel in hot air balloons and be compassionate and make sure you take your heart pills everyday because if they aren’t you will just find yourself stuck with some old poofy haired bag of bones that you don’t want to talk to but are forced to see first thing every morning when you wake up.” As I said this, I realized I had only taken out half the plastic bags, and I was preaching with one solo, large, lumpy fake boob. There are many, many reasons why I am undateable, but this is the main one, the stink that looms around me that after a few days, everyone can smell. She’s crazy.
In a culture so obsessed with images, it’s hard to not wonder what all these images are subconsciously teaching us. Human nature has always associated beauty with goodness, but the Internet has glorified that assumption. I wake up in the morning and am bombarded with images, images teaching me that tight, tan, female bare asses generate millions of “likes,” followers, attention and validation from others, and that looks, the image, the outside shell is what will make you important or interesting to others. Chance was recruited to work at Aviator Nation through Instagram. The kid has hundreds of cool surf pictures and ten thousand followers. A tiny indigenous pigmy from some deserted plain of Africa would probably assume Chance was a celebrity of some sort. A middle aged woman from Arkansas would maybe assume he’s a pro surfer she just doesn’t know about. A designer of a vintage seventies inspired surf clothing brand would see that Chance projects the look and vibe they are looking for to work for their company. I believe Chance is just being followed by the entire state of Missouri, where he is from, or he simply paid some mysterious source for robots to follow him, but whatever the case, Chance has marketed and branded himself though using social media in a way that got him enough attention that it resulted in a job opportunity. My friend Connor believes this type of thing will be the future of our world- we will all be our own brands- marketing ourselves in ways that eventually we will capitalize off of. Which means to remove yourself from any and all social media would be to live as a pennieless ghost silently roaming around a world that doesn’t know you exist.
Sports can be a good example of this. Attractive tennis players like Anna Kornawhateverhernameis spent her career losing tennis matches to everyone, but made tons of money in endorsement deals and got to make out with Enrique Iglasias in his music video “Escape.” Alana Blanchard is a well known surfer, and she can surf, but there are other female surfers out there who are better. But Alana is pretty, and therefore more marketable and more popular. Chance may be right that an attractive girl holding a surfboard could get an endorsement deal without ever even paddling out, because as long as the image is there, who cares about anything else? I’m probably just pissed about it because if I snapped a picture of my true self, me standing in the middle of a surf store with one big stuffed boob, speaking my mind to my male peers- my message would be entirely lost. All people would see would be a hauntingly confusing image, void of any emotion or point of view, or feeling, or all the millions of details and characteristics that make humans multi-faceted and complex individuals. Which makes me think about how we will have to adapt or alter ourselves to thrive in an image obsessed culture.
“I just want to know what it will be like for us in the future…when we are Grammies. I want to be a beautiful Grammie, full of life and still young at heart. I don’t want to get caught up in looking young and pretty that I forget to develop myself as a soul,” I said, finally returning my chest to normal. “You ask way too many questions and think about being a Grammie too much,” Chance said, grabbing his surfboard and looking out the window at the waves. “The stoke is real!” he screamed as I started stuffing all the empty plastic bags into my shirt again.