Funeral selfies: to snap or not to snap?

2015-04-12 08:30

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David Cameron, Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Barack Obama take a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial

Two years ago, President Barack Obama and other world leaders paused to take a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, and numerous other people share snaps of themselves at funerals. Malibongwe Tyilo looks into whether funeral selfies are really a thing.

I live next to a church that occasionally holds funeral services. Two weeks ago, I saw a bunch of youngsters, who looked as though they were in the thick of their teenage years, all smiles, taking a jolly group selfie outside the church after one such service.

To be fair, their outfits, hair and make-up looked amazing. It would have been a missed social-media opportunity had they let the presence of a corpse get in the way of a good outfit picture.

My curiosity was piqued. Was the funeral selfie a thing? Am I missing out? Being someone who is easily fascinated by the morbid, I immediately searched for #FuneralSelfie and #FuneralOutfit hashtags on Instagram.

A part of me expected sad faces baiting for sympathy, perhaps even a few fake tears. Not so, it seems. No one was trying to ruin their good looks and smudge their make-up with tears.

Instead, I was greeted by smiling and immaculately made-up faces, salon-fresh hair and a few group selfies of people who seemed genuinely excited to be with cousins and other family members they hadn’t seen in a while.

The pictures were mostly of people who wanted to show us just how stylishly they could pay their last respects. I couldn’t judge, and neither did the commenters. “Sorry for your loss, but you look absolutely stunning, doll.”

As for the hashtags, #FuneralSelfie #FuneralOutifit #OutfitOfTheDay #SadDay #DressedNice #LayingSizweToRest #ButItsACelebration lived side by side.

Youngish funeral directors, priests and priestesses have also joined in on the fun, snapping a quick pic to let us know the look they are donning for the proceedings.

Bless. I can only hope that, when my time comes, I will have such a person presiding over my final farewell gig – a person who understands the importance of looks and likes.

Ukhozi FM’s Zama Ngcobo posted this image of herself at Mandela’s funeral with the hashtag #IWasThere

Here’s the thing. We all know the importance of a good outfit when it comes to a funeral.

Never mind how many funerals we have or haven’t attended ourselves, just switch on the telly during celebrity funerals – everyone who watches does so while obsessing over what the famous are wearing.

For many people, especially the young, funerals and weddings are the two events when they are most likely to wear their smartest outfits. Then there’s also the importance of making sure everyone gets to see your most stylish get-ups in the social-media age.

Like the celebrities whose #FuneralOutfits are celebrated on screens and in the pages of magazines all over the world, should we not be able to turn the cameras on ourselves?

Should our followers not get to obsess over our mourning style? In fact, they could be sitting at home wondering what to wear to an upcoming funeral. They need our inspiration.

Never mind the Judgy Judies, snap a funeral selfie for the living.

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