The internet has known my face for nearly a decade now, but it was only a few weeks ago that I uploaded what I believe is the first ever picture of me smiling.
I actually remember my first ever internet 'profile picture'.
It was on MSN, when I must've been in about Year 8, and I have no idea where I got it from but I had this cartoon-like illustration of a girl in ripped fishnet tights and biker boots sat crying on a bench, with the words 'Where The Pretty Girls Go' written in a banner above her head. Which seems like a pretty badass move for a 13 year-old girl, but I'm almost entirely certain I'd just google image searched 'pretty girl cartoon', so.
For my photo after that, I did the absolutely unthinkable, something which would go on to shape a big portion of the rest of my life. I nicked my sisters laptop, climbed out onto the little roof outside my bedroom window so I could reach our next door neighbours unprotected wifi, positioned that hefty piece of 2007 machinery in a precarious way as to get my best angle but also not drop my sisters computer off the fucking roof, and I snapped my first ever selfie on that grainy webcam.
I was the first person in our year to use a picture of themselves as their profile picture. As soon as I triumphantly uploaded it, I received a barrage of messages pop up in those flickering orange boxes: 'who is tht in ur pic???' 'is ur dp u?' and truthfully I felt like a fuckin' boss.
So began my illustrious selfie-taking career.
I'm not even exaggerating when I say I reckon I must've taken close to half a million selfies in my life. They've been a huge part of my understanding of how I look, and how others perceive the way that I look. Which, when demonstrated through the easily-manipulatable lens of say instagram, is perhaps not always the healthiest thing.
Through my years of practice, I've learned that I can take a mean selfie.
Precisely that. In the past couple of years, the pictures I choose to release of myself all have a running theme - I look mean as fuck in them .
Not a trace of good humour or joy seems to creep into my expression, regardless of how I'm actually feeling. I have the same foolproof raised chin, eyes cast downward, lips subtly pouted so it looks natural and menacing glare formula in each picture, and then it really gets to me when people accuse me of thinking I'm better than everyone.
"I don't present a false presentation of myself online, though... do I?" I asked Chloe when I was in NYC this January and she just laughed. Yeah, I mean, I could see how to someone who didn't know me might assume that I'm cold, a bit unpredictable, incredibly self-assured, cynical even from my photos, but I liked that. And I was all of those things inside... but only perhaps 8-10% of the time.
That's when I realised that while the way I was making myself appear wasn't technically inaccurate, it was by no means any kind of accurate at conveying the bigger picture.
Because really, I'm a happy, gawkish, trashy mess who is prone to being quite serious, but loves nothing more than just being a silly bitch too.
And so I made a decision. I'm only gonna post a selfie if I am genuinely happy on my inside and just wanna share something nice and honest with the world. Not a carefully-controlled ego boost when I'm feeling fragile.
For 8 weeks now, a selfie has not touched my insta unless I'm smiling and lovin' life. And when I scroll back over my archives, I look back at my life and my captured memories and I realise that I am genuinely happier and more confident at this moment in life than I think I have ever been.
I've always understood 'cool' as just not caring about anything. But I don't look back at my old pouty selfies and see a cool girl. I see a girl fraught with insecurities who cares an awful lot, searching for someone to tell her she's pretty enough.
Now I've realised it isn't 'not caring about anything.' It's genuinely not caring about shit that doesn't actually matter.
And you can trust me on this one,
'cause I'm now cool as fuck.