photographing yourself/your style = narcissism?

whatiworetoday.png
(photo via amazon.com)

in a recent discussion in the wardrobe_remix forums, i learned about a soon-to-be released book, called what i wore today: online fashion narcissism from beijing to berlin.

not knowing much about the project or it’s tack/arguement (i wonder: is it celebratory, or critical?), it seems that if nothing else, said book is focusing on the phenomenon of online fashion blogging/style sharing…you know, folks interested in fashion, photographing themselves and their outfits, and then sharing them with the world via their blogs, fashion forums, and communities or venues like wardrobe_remix (as well as other websites like w_r, of which i am sure many of you are familiar, net-and-fashion savvy as you are).

***

i find use of the word narcissism in the title of this book curious (and frankly, a little odd). and it got me thinking…and questioning.

the word narcissism*, at least to me, judging simply by its definition, has a pejorative connotation. i.e., it suggests that said sharing is judged to be a vice, something bad, something to perhaps be looked down at. that it is, at least in the eyes of some, vanity.

do you feel that photographing oneself and posting that photograph in a public manner automatically and unequivocally implies narcissism on the part of the person posting said photo? is that person self-centered/self-obsessed? is that bad? is that okay?

or is there another, alternative interpretation? do people share photos of themselves, or share photos of their outfits/style for reasons other than self-obsession, showing-off, or egoism?

what’s the point of sharing photos of oneself at all? why do we do it? why do do it, if you do? be critical, delve deep, divulge!

another thought: would it be better, considered less ego-centered to not share photos of oneself at all? if photographing oneself can be argued as just being documentation of what one is wearing and not intended as a narcissistic act, would it be ethically better to keep the collection of said photos to oneself? does the mere act of posting those photos to be viewed publicly turn the photos into a self-centered, egocentric endeavor, one that’s open to judgement?

(*see also: some definitions of egoism and narcissism.)

***

i know this may not be talked about often in the fashion blogging/sharing world…but i’m curious. i want to go deeper into this subject, if possible…

i’d love to hear what others have to say on this matter…particularly if you participate in websites like wardrobe_remix or focus on the documentation of your outfits in your own fashion blog.

what say you?

46 comments

  1. Caroline

    Ooh, interesting! I’ll be looking out for that book.

    The first time I came across wardrobe remix and started finding personal style blogs I told my friends how incredibly brave I thought people were to open themselves to such possible insult and ridicule. While most people leave nice comments, I certainly have to ignore and delete plenty of unpleasant ones too – and I know I’m not alone in this. So sharing one’s personal style on the internet can never be purely narcissistic.

    In my opinion, the world of fashion and style is very elite, and style blogging allows Joe Bloggs (i.e. me!) to participate actively in an (albeit small) aspect of that world. Praise and criticism, alongside the inspiration provided by other people’s personal style, really allow you to evolve a look.

    Besides, even if one does garner insults, it is easy to cope with rejection if you can just hit delete!

  2. AC

    This isn’t going to necessarily delve deep, but here are some scattered thoughts.

    I don’t post “what I wore today” style photos, only because I am too shy. I do look at pictures from wardrobe_remix, and I find that they are a great source of inspiration, for which I am grateful. I also find that the people who comment on the photos are supportive & able to find beauty in even the smallest things. In general, I find that people who deride these things as “narcissistic” latch on to the word because it’s so easy. It really doesn’t require a great deal of thought to use that particular word. I doubt that people who use the word are pious and modest individuals. I think fashion blogging is just another way to share something that makes you happy with people who share your interests, and it’s not necessarily exhibitionistic.

    Basically, in an internet world where you can read so many angst-filled, homophobic, misogynistic, etc., comments on, say, YouTube, I think fashion blogging is SUCH a positive thing. I really hope that the good continues to outweigh the bad.

  3. m.

    i think posting anything about ourselves online (blogs, photos, etc) requires some level of exhibitionism and self-promotion. we’re putting ourselves out there for the world to see, and i don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing! sure, i think the whole what-i-wore thing is part showing off, it’s also about community, self-invention, and oh yeah, fun and fashion!

  4. hailey

    It’s funny, I was pondering the vanity thought yesterday while taking photos of my new haircut (lol). But I would use the word ‘liberating’ to describe the feeling I get from blogging. I used to hide away and now I show who I am in such a big way, I don’t think that is narcissism. I agree with AC that it’s a great way to share interests and inspiration.

  5. the great armadillo

    I started posting pictures of myself because people asked. Also, because I really enjoy looking at other people’s stuff and I dislike being a voyeur. A lot of it for me is trying to avoid being completely anonymous online and fall prey to inventing a persona; even if you stage a picture, pull out your nicest things, you are still you.

    Then again, I’m a very out there person in real life. I wear Halloween costumes for the entire week around the holiday. Posting it is partly a way of finding out that I’m not alone.

    It can get out of hand, though. Unless I were doing a study, I couldn’t take a picture of myself everyday just to take a picture of myself every day, fashion reasons or not. I guess there is a fine line between being bold and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and being egotistical. But it usually balances itself out. Usually comeuppance happens when someone has gone too far.

    Heck, if blogging gives someone confidence, then I’m all for it. All I ask is they use judgment.

  6. michelle

    It does seem narcisstic at times to post pictures of yourself looking good for all the world to see, but I think more than self promotion the reason people do wardrobe remix and other fashion blogs is because they love fashion. I myself am not a member of wr but I love to peruse it’s pages because all the colorful, creative ensembles are truly inspiring to me. I think that rather than narcissim it is sharing our form of creativity. Is it narcissistic to display your own art work, or craftwork? Most people would probably say that it’s not. So why is sharing fashion creativity considered to be so?

  7. Erica

    I expressed my view briefly on this topic in the wardrobe_remix discussion board, but I’d like to state here as well that I do NOT think of the process of documenting oneself or specifically one’s style of dress as inherently narcissistic or vain. It can be, certainly, but that depends on one’s personal reasons at the least, and the projected attitude as well as one’s interactions (or absence thereof) with observers.

    The technology and the means to do projects like wardrobe_remix have only been available for a relatively short period of time; to me, it’s just one small corner of the ongoing and and ever-expanding experimentation and exploration of the potential of tools/resources like the Internet and digital photography. It’s possible to shape your presentation to the world in ways unheard of even ten years ago. Also, it’s possible for a regular person to reach and impact more people than ever before. How then does exploring and exercising that newfound power immediately translate into self-centered narcissism?

    I think it’s the shift in power that the Internet fosters which might make some people feel unsettled about wielding it. Now, we do not have to rely on others to make images for us to see and digest, we have the power to create our own. Taking initiative to do so can seem presumptuous. “Who do I think I am to show myself online? I must be so vain. Looking at myself makes me so narcissistic.” I think it’s healthy to find inspiration from within. I think also that there is a naturally occurring reaction to taking this initiative of reaching out to others who are on the same wavelength and doing the same thing; that in turn results in learning from, talking with and inspiring one another which is healthy and enriching.

    Vanity, narcissism, egoism, whatever you wish to call it, becomes unhealthy when one takes from others far more than one gives, that is, using others merely for gathering adoration and artificially boosting one’s self-image. Someone with a healthy and stable sense of self (which does not characterize truly vain, narcissistic or egotistical people) does not crave the reaction and/or approval of others in this way.

  8. allison

    great post!

    i think about, and struggle with, this issue a lot with my own blog. who really cares what i wear? i’m a regular twentysomething girl with no connections to the fashion world. when i’m feeling disgusted with the often vapid nature of society, i think of myself as narcissistic and sometimes shallow. but other bloggers commit worse offenses (super up-close shots, daily outfit posts, etc.) and they’re often the ones with the biggest following.

    the desire to broadcast yourself online might delve out of narcissism and so-called “me culture”, but i don’t think it’s always a bad thing to be proud of yourself. if you think you have something to share with the world, show them! this includes art, music, and yes, fashion, among other things. and people really do get a lot of inspiration from looking at the outfits of others.

    people respond so well to it, too. as i said before, outfit posts are always the ones with the most comments. and in today’s day and age, everyone is a brand. if you’re trying to break into the fashion world, the most democratic way to do so is to start a blog and earn a following. i was interested in fashion journalism before i read that before getting a paid position, you essentially must be an unpaid intern in new york city at several fashion magazines. well, i know that i and the average person can’t afford to live in new york city while earning no income. it’s unfair, and unrealistic. i’d like to think we aspire to be a meritocracy, where people are judged by their talents rather than their connections. i think blogging really IS helping with that transition. susie bubble got a job at dazed and confused based on her blog, and i know other bloggers have received fashion opportunities based on their sites as well.

    so yes, there is narcissism in it, but i don’t think of it as a terrible thing. i’m big into feminist literature and culture, progressive politics, human rights, and current global events. i don’t feel shallow because i am not only thinking of myself in other aspects of my life. i consider my interest in fashion a complex hobby in which i may indulge my aspirations while at the same time need to consider what consequences my actions have on others (ethical production of clothing is a big deal for me, for instance.)

    really, our society tells us that we as women should be modest, and it’s BS. fashion is a primarily female endeavor (at least blogging about it), but why on earth should we feel guilty for being bold and outspoken? narcissistic men are often the most successful, but when applied to women, it becomes some terrible female stereotype about being bitchy and selfish.

    as long as people aren’t obsessed with only themselves or only fashion, we have no reason to feel guilty for wanting to express ourselves to the world. fashion is just another art form. it no longer requires a large disposable income given the wealth of affordable and stylish vintage clothing. you never hear this argument about artists on deviant art or photographers on flickr who show their work to the world.

    at least that’s how i see it.

    x
    allison

  9. Leah

    This is a really interesting question! I have to say, with wardrobe remix, no such thought has ever crossed my mind – and it’s probably down to the wonderful & friendly community there.

    Generally, I associate narcissism with arrogance or being ‘big-headed’. I just don’t really link outfit photos, such as those posted on w_r, to being narcissistic because… for the most part, it’s rare to see someone write “I’m amazing and the most stylish here.” or similar. I find inspiration for my own style from real people, who are unafraid to showcase their style to people they’ve never met physically. Besides, an outfit for a particular day would be judged by strangers (and people you know) all day anyway in the real world – what is the difference with extending that to the rest of the world? To me, it’s the same as if you were to travel all around the inhabited world and allow everyone to see you & your outfit.

    I think that self appreciation (which I differentiate from vanity) is not a bad thing because so many people view themselves negatively for not fitting a certain ideal (and who is saying this ideal is ‘right’ anyway?) and so it’s great to see someone appreciating their good points! If you love a particular outfit or how you look on a certain day, taking a photo of it on you (not on a mannequin which strikes me as slightly impersonal) would capture that and maybe remind you how you felt on that day, in that outfit etc.

    I like to take photos of such times because it allows me to document and remember the feelings I associate with that outfit (usually I only photograph when I feel particularly amazing, which isn’t necessarily everyday), whilst also allowing me to see how my style has evolved. This last point being fairly critical for me at the age I am (17) because I just don’t feel I’ve ‘found myself’ in the style sense… maybe you never truly do, but it’s more a case of constantly evolving. Who knows, the point is that photographing oneself allows you to see the changes and maybe look back upon what you did before that you liked and forgot about.

    I post to w_r because getting comments sometimes allows me see parts of an outfit I may not have necessarily thought about (e.g. I had an outfit where I wore a polka-dot shirt and a plaid coat – some people commented about how they loved the contrast of patterns, something which I had not even thought about or noticed, I just liked it whe!) and essentially get someone else’s opinion. I think this in fact makes me less egotistical because it kind of reminds me that I’m normal and not some fantastic being who has amazing style (which I actually don’t think anyway)

    I think I’ve written for long enough now, but I’ll add that you find with loads of fashion blogs that people take photos of outfit experimentations (not the same as daily outfit I know) to illustrate their point more than for vain reasons. Surely this isn’t being narcissistic.

  10. Christine

    It’s funny, when I first read the title of the book it reminded me of when I was in 6th grade and we had to reenact Greek mythology and I was so embarrassed that I got stuck with the story of Narcissus the beautiful boy that fell in love with his own image. I remeber feeling embarrassed because I was an incredibly awkward girl and I knew (or thought I knew) that the other students would find me laughable in such a role. As being one of the remixes asked to participate, without the knowledge of the title, I felt that same embarrassment MANY years later over the same word. I love looking at and commenting at other remixes photos because I find their photos not only beautiful and inspirational but also a really fun time and it makes me happy. I myself post because of many reasons. I like to be involved in a community with so many creative people from all over, it inspires me to have more fun with what I put on and think about it more sense I will be writing about it, my friends seem to genuinely like to look at my posts and I like that it is something we can share. I feel that if I was a true narcissist I wouldn’t bother looking what other people were doing and that I would be so in love with what I was doing and think that no one could do better. That is so far from how I really feel and why I do what I do. At times I do feel like posting may be a little self indulgent but I equate it more on the lines of eating ice-cream with friends, something that makes me happy and I enjoy.

  11. Liberty

    I’ve had a brief look at the blurb on the website, and whilst the book appears to merely be a sort of streetstyle collection, but of those who photograph themselves rather than say professional ones by The Sart. However the use of the term ‘narcissism’ immediately brings up negative connotations for me and implies that it is a vain occupation to present oneself online, presuming that we do this purely for self affirming compliments. I certainly think that the majority of fashion bloggers are not vain or narcissistic, but merely wish to share a passion and exchange thoughts on the subject with others online. The fact that this subject is fashion is the problem. It’s the same problem with people thinking ‘fashion’ in general is for silly ditzy people who have nothing better to do than fuss over their appearance. Those who peruse fashion blogs with the sole intention of leaving negative feedback clearly have lots more personal issues than us ‘narcissists’.

  12. Lady Smaggle

    I don’t think it’s self centered at all! The reason why I do it is to share ideas and get some feedback. It is an interesting thing though. I love it. I have google reader account full of style blogs that I devour everyday and it’s totally changed my life. I can see what people are wearing in different countries and I think the blogsphere is so diverse! Look at the gorgeous ladies we can spy on from every end of the world. I love it!

    Although I must say I am terribly curious about the book…

  13. Shay

    I saw the w_r thread and realized I’d been contacted for inclusion too, also with the “how women really dress” approach. I might have reconsidered had I known the title as well, but release forms signed, it is their right to use the images the way they want to and describe them the way they want to. They did things professionally, and I guess we’ll see how it comes out.

    As a fashion blogger, I don’t consider myself a narcissist, but I worry quite a bit that people who don’t post photos of themselves online think I am. Which is why AC’s comment is very reassuring. šŸ™‚

    I think the need to have a visual online presence arises more out of wanting to share inspirations and participate in a community than from blatant egoism. We share these photos in the same way we share vacation pictures with friends, and it takes a bit of nerve to put yourself out there like this at first, but you get over yourself and have fun with it. You also sometimes end up with more of a bruised ego than an inflated one based on other people’s evaluations of you!

    In a way, keeping the photos to yourself shows you have more ego to be damaged than those who share them with the world and potentially expose themselves to criticism….

    Thanks for you compliments on the collar btw!!

  14. Elysia

    very very interesting. you’re right, this is something very common (in the fashion blogging world) that is never discussed. i will look out for feedback on this book.

  15. Dawn

    I also don’t believe it is narcissism to post a pic of you and the outfit you have created for the day. We all dress to feel good about ourselves, but obviously to also look good to other people, so posting online is how we show our flickr friends from around the world what we wore that day. Fashion is art and each outfit is a artistic creation. I post pics of my collages and craft projects all the time for people to see, does that make me narcissistic? I think not. I mostly think they are trying to be catchy, slightly attention getting and a bit judgemental to sell the book.

  16. K.Inez

    I think it’s more about exercising creativity than ego, but ego is definitely a part of it. I don’t see anything wrong with that, unless it has power over other aspects of your life, or keeps you from living your life fully in some way, or somehow manages to hurt someone else. I can’t help but think this has a misogynistic undercurrent… Women celebrating something they like about themselves {without the goal of titillating men in some way} and men who care about the way they look? That’s pretty classic dumping fodder, isn’t it? The cynic in me is surprised some form of backlash hasn’t occurred already.

  17. kara

    This post struck a cord. I think that w_r is totally a place where “people share photos of themselves, or share photos of their outfits/style for reasons other than self-obsession, showing-off, or egoism” at the same time I am sure that for others it is a form of narcissism. Regardless, I am very happy not to be the one who judges. I am only responsible for myself. That said I think I did stop participating in w_r because I was (1) afraid of being viewed as narcissistic and (2) is was judged a little harsh once for mixing patterns and I let it hurt my feelings.

    I still love w_r, I use it for inspiration as I do the other street fashion blogs I frequent. I would rather see applied fashion then glossy fashion magazines. So I have a hard time dismissing the practice as narcissistic because I don’t see it as one-sided self indulgence, shoot, because that makes me feel like I am a voyeur, and it’s all about ME really :).

  18. Andrea Mitchell

    Good lord, I hope it’s not narcissistic! I don’t think it is. I post an almost-daily outfit shot on my blog, but I also post pictures of my artwork and sections of my writing. To me, all these things come under the same umbrella of self-expression. In fact, I consider myself to be very low in confidence rather than narcissistic, and posting pictures on wardrobe_remix has made me feel a lot better about my personal style, and opened me up to a whole community with similar interests who all have a lot to teach me. I really appreciate other bloggers’ outfit posts as well – I find them inspirational. And they are usually – always, actually, in my experience – self-deprecating and humble.

    As has been said already, posting pictures of your outfits is seen as shallow because it is related to fashion and appearance, I think. Since what you put on your body is so connected to your body and face and physical appearance, outfit shots could be construed as saying “Hey, look at me, I look fantastic, I think everyone in the world should see me.” But what about people who post pictures of the modifications they have made to their cars? (There’s a big community out there!). Or people who post pictures of how they have decorated their houses? It’s essentially the same thing. It’s a hobby. It’s visual expression. I can see how people could see it as narcissistic, but I vehemently disagree.

    Anyway, very interesting topic!

  19. Shannon

    The narcissim aspect never even occurred to me. I’ve always seen it as just another facet of the internet. A way to share a common interest with people you couldn’t reach another way. I love looking at the photos. They are such an inspiration in a variety of ways. They give me ideas for combining things I already own, for things I should keep an eye out for, and they help be more confident in my own quirky style in a world of cookie cutter fashion. I wouldn’t use the words narcissim or egoism to describe things like w_r. I would use words like community and support.

  20. Mary

    First thing I have to say: it’s a horrible cover. It’s so bad designed… šŸ˜¦ WHY? Though I am interested who’s included… who might have said yes to be printed?

    I don’t like that narcissm if it doesn’t include an essay explaining it.

  21. Casey

    I tend to be rather put-off by the word “narcissistic”, if only because it tends to associate itself (in my mind at least) with someone who is wrapped up in themselves, somewhat vapid and only concerned about how things affect them and having their ego stroked. So, I think from that standpoint it’s a bit odd that the book includes that title, and yet isn’t a critical look at the self-documented style movement (which is what the title led me to believe!).

    I’m curious to see how the book is when it’s published. I really love the online self-documented-fashion community, and have rarely run across others who are narcissistic! If anything, the majority of people who post to w_r and other blogs and such are very well-grounded, humble and talented individuals who are just looking to share their particular viewpoint of fashion. It’s like every form of self-expression: it’s bound to be viewed negatively by some, unfortunately.

  22. susie_bubble

    I look forward to seeing the premise of this book too…. I do hope they haven’t sensationalised fashion blogging and outfit posting because I have a funny feeling they have…

    Anyhow, I’ve said it before but for me, taking pictures of my outfits is the only way of sharing fashion experiences. For my blog in particular, I don’t take pics just to say ‘Here’s what I’m wearing today’ but rather it’s an exploration of ideas. It could be holey tights, paint splatter dresses, a new purchase…it’s a documentation that together with the text that I write means that it can’t really be read as narcissism…

    With regards to Wardrobe Remix, again it’s about sharing ideas and having that dialogue going back and forth…I’m not sure whether members post purely to get good feedback and to get a confidence boost but I look at it and see it as a fashion community sharing ideas through the medium of photos of themselves…. people aren’t just preening themselves in mirrors and projecting that image online with no consequence…it’s the dialogue that comes after that that makes it completely NOT narcissistic…

  23. Sal

    Another great question, and amazing responses.

    I believe that the majority of folks who post images of themselves wearing innovative outfits do so out of a sense of pride in creativity that never verges on narcissism. They hope to spark the interest and imagination of readers, and receive feedback. From my perspective, Wardrobe Remix is especially narcissism-free. As a friendly, supportive community of international clotheshorses who experiment and share, it’s more of an imagery-based discussion than a series of individual style declarations.

    However! I have certainly come across stand-alone blogs that post nothing but outfit shots, bore me to tears, and cross that line into self-aggrandizement.

    When I post photos of myself, I explain why. Even if it’s just to say, “check out how I made this belt work with this skirt,” or “Mary Janes are the perfect Spring transitional shoe.” I include thoughts, comments, advice, instructions, or a story. Emotional access points, or ruminatory triggers for my readers. Someone who is just posting outfit after outfit may provide passive inspiration, but isn’t offering anything that is actively helpful or engaging. I have encountered a few such bloggers, and they turn me off.

    I am super curious to page through this book. The blurb seems to indicate that it is a supportive work, but, as others have said, the use of the term “narcissism” definitely indicates author scorn. Hmmmm.

  24. sarah

    I have a lot of scattered thoughts on this issue, but I’d like to take your question, Tricia, as a jumping-off point: would it be considered less egotistical to document one’s wardrobe and keep the photos to oneself? I think not. The thing about Narcissus is that he was in love with his own image – but how many of us in w_r go back and linger over our own photos? I go to w_r to see OTHER people, not myself. Sure, I submit my photos, but that’s the kind of give-and-take that feeds the community, and it’s the community that brought me to w_r in the first place, and the connections I’ve made there that keep me posting when I have something interesting to share.

    The way I see it, the community aspect, the act of sharing, overrides or cancels out accusations of narcissism.

    And I have to agree with some of the other posters that I suspect there may be some strong currents of discomfort with the power shift this grassroots aspect of the internet-broadcasted street style website/blog/group. I know I, for one (to link this discussion to your previous post), largely ceased buying fashion mags after I discovered fashion blogs and street style and DIY sites. The bodies, the looks, and the ideas are more realistic, more attainable, and frankly, more varied. There is inspiration aplenty here, and ideas that work on a real-world budget. I do think there’s something very threatening about that, particularly in the tightening US economy. Who needs to shell out those important dollars for fashion mags in this day and age, when we can just go online?

    Also, part of me wonders what the relationship of this book is to its content. In some ways, the two seem at odds to me: what appeals to me about street style and fashion blogging is the variation, democracy, and individuality. One wades through goodness-only-knows-how-many images and blogs to find what one likes, to find the people one wants to communicate with, to find those one admires. And these connections are motivated by highly personal logic and subjective reasoning. Granted, the text isn’t available to read yet, but I’m supposing that this book has a thesis or a theory behind it that unifies its ideas, which means that the emphasis on individual interpretation in and of communities like w_r is being replaced by a singular overarching statement/assumption coming from one person. The images supplied are those that fit this person’s theory. It’s like we’ve lost the democratic/grassroots/individual element that I have always thought an important raison d’etre for these communities. And finally, we have sheer economics: what is the relationship of a professionally published book for SALE to its content, when its content is amateur, free, and available online?

  25. Jane

    Fascinating discussion!

    I’ve always found that those of us who express our own style rather than wear what we are told to wear by designers are far more interesting people than those who follow the herd!

    Whatever you wear says SOMETHING about you so why not take the time to make it say something fun and amusing? Narcissists are only concerned with themselves. Snappy dressers are providing enjoyment for everyone who sees them!

  26. alanna

    I think the use of the word narcissism is meant to provoke. See, aren’t we interested?

    My take is, self documentation, in any form, is a celebration of the individual rather than the whole…and challenges a species where any differation from the norm is treated as a potential threat. I guess I am thinking of it in evolutionary terms.

    I do find it endlessly fascinating that individual style almost always fits into large scale style… same same, but different! is what many people today want to look like, myself included. Style is, to me, a major signal of cultural identification to other humans, and it is a tool to get what we want from other people (sex, friendship, power, money, respect, whatever!).

    Personally, if I was criticized for being too “into” myself, I would take it as a compliment that I am doing something right. Being in love with myself sounds pretty satisfying as I am always hanging out with me. šŸ˜›

  27. Nadine

    This is so interesting! I love it when people post daily-outfit photos anywhere! It’s incredibly inspiring to find a look or style that really resonates and that pushes me to try harder and do better. I love the happy pride that comes through: “I did a great job with this – yay me!” I live and was raised in a culture which values keeping your head down and not bragging – the self-celebration that comes through in outfit photos is a delicious and refreshing affirmation of the value of lavishing thought/care/attention on oneself.

    BUT I can’t bring myself to post my own pictures on w_r, even though I would LOVE to, because I am a small-town teacher and I’m not comfortable with putting myself out there. I’m too scared of it getting ugly in the real world . . . But lotsa love to all those of you who do!

  28. Lauren

    I haven’t come across a lot of pictures (street style/W_R) that I would classify as being narcissistic. Firstly because it’s not about the people it’s about the clothes. For me it definately is. I only use myself in my pictures because I don’t have anyone else too. I don’t think ‘I look great today’ I’ll post this on W_R, I think ‘I like these colours/patterns together, I wonder what other people think’. I also like the feedback element and the problem solving element. Some of the best creations I have come up with have been inspired by others or from the advice of others. It’s the whole community thing that I like. So, I don’t really think its about me.

  29. sarah

    i think i’m in the vast minority here, but i think posting pictures online is (in part) narcisistic and i don’t see how that could be avoided.

    I enjoy the discourse and the inspiration i get from the w_r communtity, i love following peoples lives through their colours and patterns, i love beautiful photographs and the backrounds. i love the people i’ve met and i love the never ending many spenldored stream of clothes it brings me every day.

    But

    i also love taking pictures of me that show me in the most favorable light possible (which for me is looking as silly. serious pictures are harder to take), and i enjoy hearing what others think of me or how i look. this is just one in a jangling chorus of reasons of why i post online but it’s still part of it, and in my mind it’s narcissism. i don’t think narcissism is a good thing, but it’s part of the human experience and is pretty hard to stomp out completely.

    for me it is a result of our subjectivity. our conciousness is the center of our experience. it’s the lighthouse from which we view the world. we can’t help but be always view things in how they affect us and assume that our experience matters more to the world in general than it actually does because it is so central to our perceptions. things like art and and dance and getting dressed are totally valid forms of expression that i hope everyone takes advantage of to exactly as they please, but they can also be (and very rarely aren’t) examples of vainity or narcisism. any action that is prompted by a look-what-i-did/thought has some amount of self interest involved. it doesn’t make it bad in it’s self, it doesn’t rob it of it’s merrit or meaning, it’s just one element. and anyone who denies it completey will be met with a big old dirty smirk from me. deny it all you want. I Know What Darkness Lurks In the Hearts Of Men.

    wardrobe remix is an amazing positive supportive community. lets face it, i’ve looked my whole life to find a group of intelligent critical engaged persons who are active in life and so compelling i can’t look away.

    but enough about me.
    what do you think about me?

  30. Lipstick Dipschitz

    hi,

    yes, i do think that posting pictures of one’s outfits is partly narcissistic, but what else is the internet for? most social networking, blogging, bookmarking sites are somewhat narcissistic in nature (this is me, these are my interests, this is what i do, this is what i wear, etc etc). but they are also ways to build an identity. people want to see themselves reflected back in order to determine who they are and to communicate that to others.

    in regards to wardrobe remix and other clothing specific sites – part of my motivation for posting is to record my life. since clothes are an important outlet for expression for me – i like to have a record of what i am wearing – sort of like a visual diary. it’s fun to look back at it and see – “oh that’s what i was into that day…” it reminds you of your past and what was going on in your life at the time.

    just like any form of expression, clothing and style are more interesting when shared. i think that is the appeal of posting these pictures for others to see. we gather new ideas and inspiration from it. really, what is the difference between this and walking outside on a busy city street? style sites like this simply widen the number of people who see you and open the lines for a dialogue that rarely can happen in the fractured real world.

    – anna

  31. Thomas

    It would not be a stretch to say that wardrobe_remix changed my life. It certainly started me writing about fashion and meeting some wonderful new people.

    Does this make me a narcissist? I don’t know. The two times I was featured as a remixer o’ the week definitely gave me a…thrill?

    Yes, thrill.

  32. artd!va

    Here’s another chime for the narcissistic *facet* of outfit posting and personal fashion blogging. But I think it’s an entirely a *personal* viewpoint on whether or not this type of communication is self-*absorbed* or self-*expressive*. Personally, vanity was the one of the reasons I stopped posting to w_r and paying attention to other people’s style in general a few months ago. While my w_r experiment/experience nothing but *outstandingly* positive and community-minded, I felt morally conflicted about it after awhile. For me, the inner bad feelings outweighed the external good vibes. But I’m still an occasional w_r and blog enjoyer, and one thing I don’t think has ever even crossed my mind is to judge anyone’s intentions in posting photos of themselves. That assumption is at the crux of the discussion surrounding this book. The narcissism issue is just a tip of the iceberg of a very complex, very new community/form of expression. I feel that the essence of documentation is *entirely* in one’s personal approach and attitude, as long as you are honest with yourself. And as it plays out, it looks to me like the positive, supportive bloggers/communities are winning hands-down over the elitists and commercial entities. If you have anything in your life that makes you feel empowered, fabulous and creative, do it, more power to ya, and keep on keepin’ on!

  33. vasiliisa

    I already commented on w_r, but those comments were specifically on the book title and whether I thought it was appropriate or not. As it has turned out, this title was not given or approved of by the author(s), and will probably be changed. (I hope this doesn’t mean that the cover will be changed completely, we want Sarah to stay on it!) Nevertheless, I do find that the connotations of narcissism are mostly pejorative and these days the word is often connected with personality disorders. (Just look at the tags that Amazon suggests for this book.) Since this has most probably been known to whoever thought of this title, they don’t seem to have respect for the people who contributed to the book. Boo!

    Granted, originally the word wasn’t meant to be that pejorative, and a dose of narcissism can be a part of a completely healthy personality, as was suggested by Freud who first started using the term in a psychological context. And I think Sarah is using it in a similar way above. I totally agree that a wish to feel admired is a reason for me to keep posting outfits. It’s certainly not a completely altruistic thing for me; I do not post just because feel others benefit from that. My motivations for posting are various and mixed and self love goes in there too. But the social aspect of w_r is also huge. If we all only had narcissistic motivations, no one would ever leave comments for anyone else, or even feel joy (but rather envy) in looking at their pics.

    The book title, again… suggests that the essence of outfit posting is narcissism. Again, boo to that! It is awfully wrong to simplify the motives of all people who post outfits online, anyway.

    BTW, I wonder why no one objects to the word “fashion” in the title. I do, since it seems to me that for a lot of people outfit posting is not essentially about fashion, either. Style, yes, clothes yes, fashion, not necessarily.

  34. All Pretty Things

    I fully agree with Sarah. It is ‘narcissism’ to some extent. Funnily enough, I wrote a post on my blog with the title “Call me Narcissus” last week on which I finally show my face to the world after a year of blogging.

    The reason why it’s narcissist is purely because I know no one in the fashion blog community that shows pictures they’re not happy with. Seriously, we just don’t. I don’t. They might be funny, but if I think I’m ugly on them I won’t post them. And that is regardless of the traffic or comments we might want to have, because I am sure that a blog that would only take pictures of ‘look at how bad my bottom looks’ would have many hits. But we don’t want to do that. We want us to be pretty or sexy or whatever our own standard of ‘best me’ is.

    But of course, there is a semantic problem to it as well. Or maybe pragmatic, not sure. The word narcissism is here used in a very vague way. It obviously doesn’t mean we are so self-centered to the point of being mentally sick or that we are in love with ourselves, like Narcissus was. But we use it to mean that we like ourselves and we like showing it. It’s a bit as if I would say that I’m paranoid about mixing red and black in an outfit. I am obviously NOT paranoid, it’s a matter of speech.

    To me, the prove that we are narcissistic is right here on the comments, I’m afraid. I think that we need to have a bit of humor about it, and not get defensive. I mean, it’s true. We take pictures of ourselves and we like it and enjoy it. For whatever reason: because my skin is so good, because I like showing my fat belly and I don’t care, because I am so good at mixing fabrics, because I took a curtain and put it as a dress and it looks cool, you name it. It’s really whatever our own standard of ‘best me’ is (quoting myself here, how self-centered is that!!).

    I enjoy it and I envy some of you (oh God, now I am narcissistic, paranoid and envious…). I would not dare to portray myself as much as some of you do. And I really like watching it because it is inspiring and funny and sometimes I can secretly criticize your taste without you knowing it and I also like that. We are all human and self-centered to some extend. I think exercising it on a blog is as healthy as it gets. But I think we also need to be able to laugh about it. I personally think that a bit less humble and apologetic fashion/style blogsphere would be healthier. I wish we would say ‘look, I look so good on this’. Would that be self-centered? yes. But it would also be honest and it shows a sense of humor. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

    **Andrea**

  35. Ivy Frozen

    Narcissism is defined as excessive love of oneself. Thus, it doesn’t require anyone else, just you and, well, you. Accordingly, those who say posting photos online is narcissistic because you enjoy the comments doesn’t make sense to me. It sounds more like you’re insecure and/or want reasurance/affirmation than “OMG! I am so hot. Just look at me. Oh, I’m so gorgeous…” As others pointed out, it’s also about the clothes, not you, so it woud be more like possible excessive love of one’s clothes and fashion sense.

    I started posting to online self street style sites to be part of the community. I post pictures of myself on my blog entries to a) add to a conversative feeling/set mood and tone b) experiment with my style and be able to pick outfits that I know work when I need to c) Since I write about fashion,style,and diy, I think readers should see how I dress for accountability and allow people to weigh my words better. If you notice, people who simply make fun of how others dress never post photos of themselves, which I am curious to see since they seem to think themselves the fashion gods.

    I too love the positive feedback from communities like W_R. Certainly there’s some pride, particularly when I’m wearing something I made. But once again, it acts more as reassurance. If I hadn’t found W_R, I likely wouldn’t dress the way I do now because I wouldn’t have the confidence and self esteem to dress how I really want to and express myself in dress. If it’s narcissistic in today’s society to actually have photos I like of myself and outfits I look back on and still love and to take time to put on something that makes me feel good instead of wandering out in my boxers and uggs, well then I happily proclaim to suffer from this personality disorder.

  36. vasiliisa

    We obviously have a huge semantics issue here. I didn’t even occur to me that simple attempts of trying to portrait myself in a positive way (like, not showing pictures I’m not happy with) could be defined as narcissistic.

  37. grechen

    i don’t think i’m particularly narcissistic, but then again, neither am i ashamed or bashful when it comes to my look or style…i began my website for a variety of reasons, one of the most important being to encourage other women of “average” (size 12) size to experiment with style, and not be afraid to see themselves in photos. honestly, i think that’s why we don’t see more average sized women in fashion magazines – we are too afraid to see what we really look like and acknowledge our size.

  38. Daphne

    oops, I’m joining this convo late, but the publishers of the book asked for permission to use two of my W_R photos for a book about “how real women dress”. Though I wondered why they chose the photos they did (not feeling they were good representations of my usual style), I liked the idea and gave consent. I’ve heard that those who worked on this book don’t like the “narcissism” tagline and intend to change it before it hits the presses, but I suppose I don’t care either way. I wouldn’t call my participation in W_R narcissism, though I can see others thinking that. I find the W_R community very supportive, sharing and inspiring and that’s why I do it. I have gotten a big confidence boost since joining, though I hardly think that that counts as narcissism….

  39. Sonia Luna

    I love this discussion! I left a comment on Style Bubble already but wanted to leave a mark here as well [egocentric, moi … no!?!].
    I have to admit that I sometimes feel self-indulgent when taking pictures of myself to post on my blog, as I said on Style Bubble I usually have so much fun that the thought dissapears quite fast! At the same time I’ve never thought that any of the bloggers I admire are in any way narcissistic or self-centered in posting their daily outfit pictures, I enjoy seeing people of all shapes, sizes and taste sharing their style.
    I hope that the publishers of this book will change the name … such a bad choice!

  40. EmilyKate

    I think the intelligence and depth with which your commenters have engaged with this question is proof that there’s more going on with style blogging than just ‘narcissism’!

    Throughout history, women have often been defined by their clothing; the style of clothing they have been allowed to wear has been very often prescribed to them according to class… these strictures are falling away and we are freer to SIMPLY HAVE FUN!!!

    I have never put photos of myself up on a style blog, though I have shared photos on sewing sites of myself wearing clothing I have sewn… I LOVE seeing REAL PEOPLE and their funny, quirky, inspired and most of all INDIVIDUAL takes on the fashions that blow across society or that they invent themselves. Mainstream media is rather disheartening in its continued used of all the same ‘ideas’, and all using the same models, who are a uniform size… It is awful really how our unconscious can readily absorb the idea that only model ‘types’ are fashionable or attractive, or that a particular style is in this month and out the next. Style blogs give a window into the lives of real people who are walking around among us in amazing, colourful, beautiful, joyous outfits and creating visual treats for everyone they encounter, and infusing art into something we all have to do every day- put on clothes! It does my heart good to see it, I thank you all for sharing, and isn’t sharing pretty much narcissism’s opposite?

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  42. Birdie!

    I did a study on narcissism versus healthy high-self-esteem – used it as a research topic for an English class, actually. To relate the topic to your question, if people are basing their self esteem on the response from the outside world, it’s outward-focused self esteem, and therefore could be considered narcissistic. If people are just documenting, but they derive a good feeling from the way they’re documented, because their style makes them proud of themselves (simply internal = self-based self-esteem), it’s not necessarily narcissistic.

    I guess it boils down to whether or not you’re documenting outfits because you need affirmation from the outside world, on whether or not your style is hip. If you take photos to document and show, regardless of what the outside world thinks (a big thumb to nose to those who think your style is completely off!) you’re not looking for outside affirmation.

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