Parenting In The Age Of The Duck Face

“I don’t know about all of the duck face, Kim. It’s killing me.”

This was something my husband said about my daughter’s instagram feed awhile back. Right now it’s private and we have to approve everyone who follows her, but yeah…there’s a ton of duck face selfies.

You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones often done with a peace sign thrown in and always done at an interesting angle.

THE ONES WE ALL HATE.

And by “we all” I mean, “anyone who didn’t go through puberty with social media to help them document it.”

If I’m honest, her feed has been bugging me too. The duck face selfies are PERPETUAL. If she’s bored she has an instagram story feed full of them, but there’s at least 1-2 a day if she hasn’t had her iPod taken away. And every one of them has me saying to myself, “This is not my daughter.”

I wanted to figure out how to make it stop. How do I talk to her in a way that lets her see this is not a good thing to do – to make your “public” persona so different from your “real” persona.

But there was always this voice…this voice who said to me, “You are just old. You don’t understand. Trust your parenting. Let her do her thing.”

I posed the question first to Twitter about how to deal with your child’s social media presence when it doesn’t reflect who they are in your mind. Was this something I needed to address? Or was this the same as when my Dad got SO MAD to hear me talk with that Valley Girl tone when I was around my friends? Is the perpetual duck face selfie just today’s version of putting on purple eyeshadow when I got to school and washing it off before my Dad picked me up in the afternoon? Is this just how today’s generation shows a different side to their friends than to their parents?

Twitter said: It’s the same.

It still bugged me though. (I mean, I’m SUPES old.) (Definitely too old to be using the word “supes.”) So, I brought it up with other friends over breakfast this weekend. And then my friend Chelsea, who is young enough that she has actually grown up with digital photography to document all of her awkward phases, said that she and her friends would spend hours getting fancy and taking pictures of themselves when they were in middle school. “Selfies” weren’t a thing – but they definitely spent an annoying amount of hours prepping their digital persona.

So now I’m swinging more to the, “You are just old. You don’t understand. Trust your parenting. Let her do her thing.” side of the response spectrum now.

And then today there’s an article being shared around Twitter talking about how people who take too many selfies have mental health problems. And I’m back to being worried again.

But here’s the thing I keep remembering: I dropped F-bombs all the time when I was around my friends. I smoked. I did drugs. I was flirty and promiscuous. I did a lot of things to seem “cool” that I look back on and question their authenticity. I wore giant t-shirts and long flowing skirts with Birkenstocks even though I wasn’t really sure I liked that style. I did like the anklet with the bells on it, but I stopped wearing it when someone said that’s what “Fake Deadheads” wore. I made a lot of decisions about how I presented myself to the world based on how I wanted to be viewed…sexy…interesting…fun…bold…adventurous…

But was that me deep down? Who knows. Can anyone between the ages of 12-20 really be authentic? Aren’t we all still learning who we are during those years? Hell…some days I think I was in my 30s before I could truly be authentic because I had no idea who the hell I was until then.

So I’m going to continue teaching what I want her to learn and let her keep expressing herself how she sees fit. I’ll periodically point out other “cool” people on social media that maybe have a VARIETY in their photos and maybe she’ll be inspired in other ways…but you know what? She’s beautiful. And I’m glad she sees her face as something worth sharing with the world. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and try to encourage her to remember that these platforms will be all some people know of her when we decide she’s old enough to stop policing her account. I’ll always remind her to spice things up, to show more of herself than just the duck face selfies. But I won’t judge her mental health or post articles snarking on the same behavior because the girls behind all of those selfies that annoy us so much…they could all be my daughter…and I refuse to judge them based on this small window into their lives.

I don’t want to force her to hide a side of herself from me because I don’t approve.

I don’t want her waiting to put the purple eyeshadow on after I’m gone.

2 thoughts on “Parenting In The Age Of The Duck Face”

  1. If she has green eyes, purple eyeshadow is appropriate . It makes the eyes pop!!.I think that the statements about people that take too many selfies are referring to adults. This is a phase she will grow out of. If her homework is done and she is at the dinner table with the family, and she is spending time outside and doing things like reading, then let the selfies be taken. I think this falls under what I said when mine was a tween and a teen (she isn’t much younger than you). I have bigger fish to fry than how many things she has pierced, what color her hair is,and what she is wearing, as long as long as there is nothing hanging out that shouldn’t be. There will be many phases. For the most part these fads take care of themselves. If her friends think that all the duck face selfies are strange they will tell her.
    My “granddaughter” went all through the make-up and hair thing. Now at 17 she does that for dressy occasions but for the most part its jeans , shirts, a bit of make-up, and brushed hair. Her concentration is on her studies.

  2. I think as long as her online persona isn’t *inappropriate*, and it isn’t leaking over into real life, you probably have nothing to worry about. I don’t get the whole duckface thing, but then again, I’m basically An Old too. You want her to be herself, but it’s only by trying on different personalities as teenagers and young adults that we learn who WE really are.

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