Gasp. Haven’t we seen the ‘shocked face’ before?
Circa 2010, the ‘shocked face’ existed on social media and was often featured in photos posted by youths in both selfies and group shots, before phasing out of popularity. As a response to the lack of possible poses left by the disappearance of the ‘shocked face, the ‘duckface’ was hatched.
The term ‘duckface’ is defined as a face made by pushing forward one’s lips to resemble a combination of a pucker and a pout. This pose is meant to create the illusion of bigger lips and defined cheekbones and is particularly popular in photos appearing on social media. So why are these poses trendy?
Indicative of cultural shifts, trends are a relatively long-lasting phenomenon, in comparison to fads, which are developed and maintained among a group of individuals. Some examples of fads include crocs footwear, Beanie Babies and most recently, the ALS ice bucket challenge.
Typically, trends result from technological changes or innovations and are enacted through noticeable changes in behaviour amongst those participating in the trend. With the rise of technological advancements such as the iPhone, selfies have become a normalized occurrence in everyday life, with the word itself now accepted by Oxford dictionary. Naturally, the activity of taking and posting selfies has also become subject to the creation of trends.
Both the ‘shocked face’ and the ‘duckface’ are distinctive from smiling, therefore providing the subject a greater selection of possible poses to navigate while attempting to capture the ideal selfie.
What’s in a selfie?
One could suggest that the act of taking a selfie, particularly while donning the trendy ‘duckface’, is merely an act of conformity. Selfies involve subjectivity in the most literal sense. The subject is constantly reconstructing an ideal image, or presentation, of oneself in search of a post-worthy photo. Selfies are considered a construction of identity and operate as an edited variation of the physical self, with the intent to appear as natural as possible.
However, could the act of taking a selfie, and in turn, producing the ‘duckface’ or ‘shocked face’ perhaps be a celebration of the ordinary?
Selfies, including those where the ‘duckface’ or the ‘shocked face’ make an appearance, suggest finding the spectacular in the mundane and the commercial. These poses are reflective of the seemingly trivial ways that individuals, particularly youth, understand themselves by participating in a subversive pose to the traditional smile.
Why, then, is there so much contempt towards the ‘duckface’ and the ‘shocked face’?
Social media is a space of exploitation and performativity; however, it is seldom discussed as a space that invites self-exploration and celebration of what is typically dismissed as insignificant.
Perhaps it would be prudent to leave behind the disdainful remarks surrounding the ‘duckface’ and its successor, the ‘shocked face’, for a more positive approach?
Delete the existence of social media bigotry and just say ‘cheese’.