This article originally appeared on i-D Magazine.
I just had my library card renewed, literally half an hour ago. I really liked my old one. I looked quite interesting and thoughtful and actually from the inch of my neck on show, probably fluent in French and not at all awkward about performing a 69. The woman who renewed it took the replacement picture on her webcam without warning and as I walked out of the registration office looking down at the New Me I cried real tears for the death of my youth. Needing to look good in photographs when you don't look that good in real life is sort of a relatively new phenomenon. Some people have always been very fit, you only need to not entirely avoid Instagram on mothers' and fathers' day to discover that actually all your friends' parents wore size 27 Levi's and lived in Notting Hill in the 1980s. But their kind of naïve photographic charisma has been usurped in the digital age by the significance of how good everybody must look in photos online all the time. If we think about social interaction as a form of labor, then uploading a truly SexyPic is basically a promotion you can't afford to miss out on. With that in mind, I've written a short guide to looking good in every picture taken of you. Think of it as Victoria Beckham's tongue-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth-don't-eat-for-four-years trick updated for the FaceTune generation. What you'll need: scissors, pritt-stick, 3 empty egg cartons, a charging cable (most recent model), some skatewear, a dinky handbag… We're going to DIY you a soul! Hmmm?
Start here as this is the aspect of yourself you can change the least and almost certainly hate the most. Your face. Your fucking face. Tell me about it. That horrible wet flapping plate of holes grosses everyone else out as much as you. A great way to ensure you don't get caught appearing to play host to an actual chin, strange teeth, an awkwardly forced smile or beady, concerned eyes, is to redesign your face using an app easily downloadable to your iPhone. More experienced users will be able to retouch their appearance to the extent their faces resemble a large Icelandic water droplet or fuzzy peach skin. Defining features be gone! And what about when others decide to demonstrate their social strata by very occasionally posting photos of you on their accounts or capturing you momentarily in the back of their story? I have two words for you: Self-Inflicted Watermark. Simply take a light, water-soluble marker and write your own handle repeatedly across that hideous un-retouched face of yours until it's appropriately obscured. You look amazing ☺.
Bodies, eh! Hands up who wishes we could just forget them altogether and live as face-tuned heads supported by a mesh hammock in a sepia-lit pod that smells of Le Labo. Right?? Until they figure that one out though, something has to be done about that trash bag of limbs which ruins every photo of you. Upper arms? Calves? Any part of your body where muscle is stored but occasionally not flexed so appears soft and meaty? Fucking bye. A really neat way of ensuring your body has the dimensions you desire is to dismember it almost entirely and use the good old perspective switch-a-roo (shhh ;) to achieve the perfect curves. Place your bum facing forward very close to the lens, your waist in the kitchen (not your mouth though greedyguts! Lol!!) your shoulders in the recycling bin and any excessive flesh or brain in the blender. Paint an expression on to your face of vacant peacefulness and prepare for the police to search for decades for your sick and twisted attacker. No one will suspect a thing!
Finally, it starts to get easier. Fashion is a great way to visually represent the identity which apparently most represents you while distracting from the less malleable facets of your appearance. However, some guidance; the wrong label worn in the wrong way will automatically exclude you from certain style tribes, risking their refusal to engage with your content, reducing the value of your photo and diminishing your precious self-worth, self-love, self-care and self-ishness. Rather than sacrifice your image to a consistent aesthetic you're truly invested in, be sure to adapt, dismiss and entirely reconfigure your look as often as your overdraft allows. Can't afford the constant new products? That's what the scissors are for! Pop a sharp pair in your bag next time you're off shopping in Soho and use them to gently trace around the security tags of the items you desire. Sure enough, you'll soon be killing the gram in some utilitarian orange combat trousers — whether you get caught by the police or not!
Ironic location tagging is fine but I'm not going to sit here and tell you it hasn't been done to death! Location is the least of your worries, get a grip.
Friends! (who needs em!)
Let me take one guess, all your friends are snakes who still follow your exes on Instagram and probably DM them and laugh about how fucking appalling you look in photos all the time. Here's a revolutionary idea, kill two birds with one stone and physically replace all your friends with serpents! Animals add a really interesting and arty authenticity to selfies while the added sheen and texture of snakeskin brings a touch of fashion nostalgia in to the mix. I guarantee people will start assuming you're embarking upon your third Arts degree, while simultaneously not being a day over 18. Brooklyn Beckham's bedroom here you come!
This has been fun, but remember in all seriousness, you never need to be in a photograph on the internet ever again.