THE BLOG

The Tyranny of the 'Groupie'

16/09/2013 12:12 BST | Updated 13/11/2013 10:12 GMT

Among the many things in contemporary culture that have the potential to negatively impact on the lives and self-esteem of young women, there is one that I find particularly insidious, something I've dubbed 'The Groupie'.

Before I start, let me be clear, this particular groupie has never been intimate with Mick Jagger or Keith Richards. No, this is the plural of 'The Selfie'; those staged photos that, if they make the cut, are uploaded ad nauseum to Facebook and Instagram.

Typically they show groups of women 'having fun'. Depending on which tribe they belong to, the groupies might contain an array of body-con bandage dresses and blow-dries, working the obligatory 'teapot' pose. Alternatively they may record a weekend festival; all bovver boots, denim cut-offs and feigned insouciance

But what I can tell you is this; the women posing for these pictures are probably not having that much fun. Real fun doesn't happen through the lens of an iphone. Real, bone fide fun isn't photogenic and it never happens when you're preparing for your close-up.

The reason I know this, is that back in the last millenium, before we had smart phones and social media, we seemed to have more fun; unfiltered, unadulterated and spontaneous. Back then it was acceptable for women to go out completely un-groomed and unadorned. No handbags, no Spanx, minimal make up, trainers and a slip dress, basically nothing which would impede our ability to dance and enjoy ourselves.

I guarantee that this level of abandon would never have been possible in the digital age. If our leisure time had been subject to the scrutiny of 500 'friends' and followers, it would've been a more sober and sanitised affair, involving industrial-strength control pants and a ton of concealer.

Now, I'm sure that I sound like an old hasbeen, bemoaning the 'youth of today' and I admit, I don't get out much these days and doubt I go to the hippest and most happening places. However when the babysitting Gods smile on me, I still enjoy a night out and a bit of (mum) dancing.

But what strikes me, is that when I do venture out after 9pm, very few people are dancing. There seems to be a lot of standing and a bit of sitting, maybe even a bit of head nodding, but very little dancing. There are however mini photo-shoots going on left, right and centre, as groups of women pose for the perfect groupie, followed by bouts of vigorous editing and uploading.

And it's not just me who's noticed it, so many of my contempories are questioning why young people no longer dance and I'm sure that it's due to the rise of the groupie. Dancing makes you sweat, and it's really hard to dance rhythmically and convincingly, while simultaneously jutting out a hip, pulling in the stomach and making the tops of your arms appear slimmer than they actually are.

And this brings me to the core reason why I don't like the groupie; I believe that its part of the drip feed which helps to fuel body neurosis in women. The young women who pose for these pictures have been brought up on an unedifying diet of celebrity magazines and websites, dedicated to the dissection of women's bodies and committed to highlighting their perceived failings.

Posing alongside a group of friends in a bikini on the beach is one thing, but opening this up to the scrutiny of near strangers online, is quite another. All of a sudden your friendship group becomes the sum of its parts: The hot one, the curvy one and so on, which can lead to a particularly pernicious form of female one-upmanship. No wonder so many women are spending half their week fasting and the other half at the gym, they're petrified of being the fatty of the groupie.

And the neurosis starts young these days. My friends with teens and tweens, tell me how upset their daughters become when a groupie is posted, at an event to which they haven't been invited. Just imagine how difficult that must be, having to navigate the notoriously tricky waters of teenage friendships and alliances under such public gaze.

But it's not just angst-ridden teens who experience those feelings, if we're honest, most of us get a pang of 'timeline envy' when a groupie pops up; a niggling suspicion that people are having a better, more photogenic social life.

But relax, the next time one of your acquaintances posts the perfect groupie from a yurt in Glastonbury or even a night at the local, don't sweat it. It's probably just a fun fugazi, simu-fun if you will. Mark my words, it's those girls whose news feeds go deathly quiet after their check-in at a Croatian airport, for they are the ones having it large and dancing as if no-one's watching.