Should you take it (almost) all off for a telfie?

Ok, so you guys. Did you know that “Telfies” are a real thing?

Yeah, uh huh. Telfies, meaning a selfie where you bare your tummy. Because apparently if you have a flat stomach, you need to make sure the whole world can see it on their phones.

I’m all about “Live and let live,” and what you put on your Instagram account is your business blah blah blah. But I take issue with the Telfie trend because it presumes that flat tummies are superior, desirable, enviable, and therefore worth showing off.

And oh, how celebs like to show off.

Like all the time. Some are predictable (Kim Kardashian. Yawn.) and some less so (Hilary and Meryl?!).

But the Telfie that really tipped the scales for me was Jennifer Hudson’s early summer pic that was captioned “It would take Mexico to get me to play on the beach! I’m so not that girl! But I work hard, I deserve it, right? Plus, I earned it!”

The caption, in my opinion, doesn’t make it totally clear if she’s worked so hard she’s earned the right to relax on the beach… or if it’s all her Weight Watchers-ing that has been the work and the reward is feeling confident enough to get nearly naked for her 500K+ Instagram followers.

But the comments make it clear that her fans think it’s the latter. “U MY MOTIVATION GURL WALK IT OUT” and “Wow,” “Amazing” etc. So no matter what her intention, the result was the praise and glory showered on those who fit our definition of beautiful.

Actually, the whole telfie trend reminds me of the controversy created by the ultra-fit mom who posted a bare-midriff photo of her crazy-fit self and her three kids and captioned it with “What’s Your Excuse?” and Gwyneth’s claim that “”Every woman can make time [to work out] — every woman — and you can do it with your baby in the room. There have been countless times where I’ve worked out with my kids crawling around all over the place. You just make it work.”

Yeesh, ladies. Both those sentiments make it sound like if our stomachs aren’t flat — and we should totally want them to be flat — it’s our own fault. And if we were real women, not wimpy, whiny moms who claim they have no time or energy, then we’d get our asses in gear and tone up those tummies so we could show them off with pride like everyone else.

I’m already over selfies. I can’t stand the sheer vanity of them. And as for telfies, well, to bust out a graduate school word, they’re culturally hegemonic. In other words, they’re a prime, current example of oppressive, idealized beauty standards that we’re all voluntarily engaging in.

So ultimately, by trying to out flat-ab each other, we’re actually participating in our oppression. (This theory could actually be applied to our relationship with beauty standards in general… but that’s another blog post.)

So no surprise, but I’m not gonna be posting any telfies anytime soon. Instead, I’ll sticking to shots of all the amazing things I’m eating (that you’re not) and crazy cute photos of my crazy cute kids, which is what social media was meant for after all, right?

Audrey D. Brashich is the author of All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty.

4 thoughts on “Should you take it (almost) all off for a telfie?

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  1. I was on board with this entire post… Until the “amazing things I’m eating (and you’re not)” comment. There exist women with flat abs who also eat great food, who have the time to work out (you’re right, most moms wouldn’t fall into this category, or perhaps even most women), or whose jobs involve physical work, or who are among those who have a hard time gaining weight. The solution isn’t to blast women who for whatever reason have the body type some people are putting on display. Judging another for her body – even if it’s a conventionally “great” one, always sets us back.

  2. It’s great to have readers who can point out flaws in one’s writing. I truly mean that!

    My closing comment about all the awesome “food I’m eating (that you’re not!” actually wasn’t meant to be linked to the flat abs theme of this post.

    It was more a reference to the (annoying?) social media trend of people posting photos of all the insanely amazing things they are eating…. Which can make the rest of the world think “wow. That friend of mine. She eats the most insanely amazing stuff alllll the time. And I –wah wah wah– just eat normal, boring, significantly less amazing stuff.”

    I think food photos can contribute to the viewer’s Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) which is often a result of consuming others’ carefully-curated social media.

    But hey, that doesn’t mean I’m above posting a shot of the most insane raw cacao chocolate balls I made for my super cute kids (awwww. You should see what they were doing 5 minutes ago! Sweetest. Kids. Everrrrr!). In fact, my feed is probably riddled with them…. They’re insanely awesome, btw. The chcolate balls. Lots of my friends–even those with naturally flat abs–eat them!


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