The girls teeter over to their table holding a photogenic coffee of some sort in a tiny martini glass, and then something with lots of extravagant foam.
They plop down.
"What is that?"
One girl enquires of the other's picturesque drink.
"I don't even know!"
I'm already judging them. Before they've even pulled out the cell phones and started the selfie session that is inevitable, I've already decided who they are. I'm mid-sigh when the phone comes out.
Insert selfie session.
It takes about four tries to get the photo right.
They adjust, freeze, adjust, take a photo. Examine the photo. Readjust. Freeze. Photo. Examine. And again. We're outside a local coffee shop. The kind of place that serves pour over that takes ten minutes to be ready and has free water that is always ice cold.
I LOVE this place. It's nerdy. It's delicious. The baristas never ask me how I am. Which is how I like it. The answer to that questions is way too complicated for a 2 minute interaction.
These girls are kind of anomalies.
Most of the patrons of this cafe are hard core nerds who click away on their MacBook Airs like their solving the hunger crisis.
But outside on the patio the air is somewhat different.
I'm about to direct my attention elsewhere when a dog prances out onto the street right next to the cafe. He's gentle-eyed Rottweiler who is deeply curious about these selfie girls. Maybe he senses something I don't.
As soon as Girl 1 lays eyes on the dog, she is BESIDE HERSELF.
She spends the next ten minutes, being the biggest most hilarious weirdo, scratching the dog between the eyes, under his belly.
I wish I could remember the things she was loudly saying to this dog, but I was so fascinated by this sudden display of weirdo-ness from a girl who had just been doing fake presentational photography, that it went through one ear and out the other.
I wished I had a camera and could capture the aliveness of this girl as she went ballistic over this dog.
It was more human, more adorable, more engaging, then anything I've ever seen on screen. It was like she had found her spirit animal after years of hunting diligently in a desert with no water or shelter.
I'm not exaggerating.
This, I thought, is what people really need to see on social media.
Not the fake perfection of crafted expressions we post when we share selfie after selfie.
The selfie is robbing us of our humanity.
In order to have the perfect selfie you have to completely remove yourself and your humanity and your uniqueness from the photo.
You have to ensure your face has the perfect smile. There's no weird wrinkles or bulges. No odd looks in your eye. Just a placidly sexy expression that broadcasts to the world, "I FIT IN. I'M OKAY. I DESERVE TO BE HERE."
This, to me, is the worst thing that has come from the social media smart phone era.
The vast proliferation of dehumanized images. The habit of actively dehumanizing ourselves in our photography and then broadcasting it day in and day out.
It doesn't make the world a better place. It doesn't make the viewer or the maker more fulfilled in life.
The robotic nature of the selfie those girls took compared to the insane aliveness of the dog interaction was so disparate, it was like two different people were fighting for dominion in this girl's brain.
And in reality, they probably were.
"Vapid" he says, looking out at a group of girls who are engaging in a selfie session that's probably going to take the better part of the next fifteen minutes.
If you're an experienced person watcher, you can usually guess how long a session is going to take by how long the girls (and yes it's almost always girls!) take examining the photos afterwards.
He had nothing but judgement and dismay painted across his face as he watched them engage in their photo session.
Yes, he was right. It is pretty vapid.
But what he didn't know was WHY it's happening. Why its so prevalent. What dark place in the human psyche this neurosis is coming from. And why it's mostly ladies, not men, who are engaged in this dark art.
Selfies are just a side effect of the large-scale brainwashing the beauty industry has been perpetrating upon young women since the dawn of shampoo.
I got lucky because growing up without TV, my only brainwashing came from reading fashion magazines.
That was still enough to make me think that at 5'4" and 115 lbs, I needed to lose weight.
At the age of twelve I had conjured up the idea that I needed to lose weight because if I were going to become an actress, I might get asked to wear a bathing suit, and if that happened I needed to be "bathing-suit-ready".
BATHING SUIT READY!?!?!?
That's fucked up.
What does that even mean?
Well, I'll tell you.
It means a flawless toned body with no visible bulges or imperfections of any kind.
And that's what I was after at age 12.
Newsflash to twelve-year-old Colette, I already had that exact body. My body will probably never be as "flawless" as it was then. And it pisses me off that I didn't know that.
The point is, that starting from a very early age, the advertisements on TV and in magazines focus on female insecurity around their looks and place a huge amount of emphasis on achieving perfection.
The words "flawless" and "perfect" get thrown around like vital conjunctions in a beauty magazine. And almost every single girl in North America grows up reading hundreds of beauty magazines.
And not just reads, she PORES OVER THEM like they contain the secret to success and happiness. These magazines are like holy grails.
On top of that, you've got TV and movies full of insanely attractive women who toss their shiny hair around like they haven't a care in the world. The advertisements then tells us that we're WORTH IT as the incite us to buy a shitty hair care product.
Yesterday I listened to an interview with an incredibly intelligent woman.
A Harvard Graduate who is working hard to alleviate the world poverty crisis. She is truly a maverick. But she too has fallen for the false wisdom of beauty as a metric by which you can measure a women's success.
In describing a change that one of the women in her program underwent, she cites the girl wearing makeup as an example of how the girl had changed for the better.
This young woman had been at risk of entering the sex trade before she was given a job opportunity that changed her life. She went from wearing baggy clothes, to clothes that fit her figure and wearing makeup.
Wait a hot second...
How is wearing makeup and fitted clothing an example of success!?!?
This is just one of the examples used to demonstrate that this young woman was on the up and up. The woman did state other examples of how the young woman was more articulate and had prospects. But the emphasis was on the SUPERFICIAL CHANGE. The emphasis wasn't on internal change.
You would never in a million years say something that dumb about a man.
You would never say that you could really tell that the man's life had been transformed because he was now wearing fitted suits and doing his hair nicely. Or he was shaving on a regular basis.
Because we don't judge a man's success by his hairdo, his attire, or what he puts on his face.
You wouldn't say that Steve Jobs really was on the up and up when he started buzzing his hair.
But with women, the more attractive we look, the more successful and happy and worthy the world thinks we are.
We have been so successfully brainwashed, as a gender, that most of us can barely recognize the difference between our personal inclinations, our true inner desires, and how we have been conditioned to value our appearance in a very specific and commerce-advancing way.
I think this topic is important because I see it as a way that women hold themselves back.
Part of the reason the pay gap exists is because women don't fight for what they're worth. If we're spending two hours a day on looking hot/polished/perfect, that's time NOT spent on thinking about strategy and how to move up or jostle the status quo.
My partner just spent a month coming up with a strategy that ended up earning him a 30% raise.
Every morning for a month he considered his strategy. And then he put it into motion.
It takes him 2 minutes to do his hair. He doesn't wear makeup. And he shaves once a week, usually on Tuesday.
So it's safe to say he's got A LOT of extra time in the morning to think about strategy.
Time that a woman who spends an hour or two hours getting ready, doesn't have.
The female obsession with perfection and flawlessness and beauty is part of what keeps us as second-class citizens, with lower incomes, less power positions, and less wealth.
And I think as women if we want to change all of that we have to stop objectifying and dehumanizing ourselves.
That means no more protracted selfie sessions, no more taking two hours to get ready, no more spending 10% of our income on beauty products and then having zero income to retire on.
Unless of course, we want to be trophy wives.