Above: Abbey Clancy in 2011. Credit: Eamonn and James Clark.
The classic defining photo-portrait of our times (the Smartphone Times) has got to be the selfie--sure, granted. But there is another type of photo-portrait that has not really existed before the last decade which might come to represent the age even better in some ways: the excessive lip-augmentation photo-portrait also known as the trout pout pic. Before 2010 collagen was known and used but it was not widely abused like it has been through this decade. In the last few years actual bovine collagen has been superseded by anti-allergenic hyaluronic acid-based products like Restylane and Juvederm. The trout pout is what happens when the user insists upon plumping their lips too much--to the point that they become grotesque ("comically distorted"), slug-like, unpleasant to look at, and actually horrifying. The weird-floating ambivalent atmosphere around the woman with a trout pout calls into question the collagen-user's self-awareness: do they know they look grotesque? Or do they think they look amazing? It's hard to tell, and often too awkward to ask. (Some say getting collagen and botox is addictive, so we might treat the trout-pouter as someone with the disease of addiction?) When the history of photography in the 2010s is written the first image will surely be a selfie. But the second could well be a woman with a trout pout. The Age of the Selfie is also the Age of the Non-Surgical Cosmetic Procedure.
(3 October 2018)