The proccess is the same for all... I was just looking myself in the mirror today after shaving, and with a great black shirt that made a great combination. I remembered how obsessed I always was with appearence and how I still am. I thought that I would not say anything when I arrive in college, but I know the people are going to notice that I'm prettier, because the black shirt really matches me and I rarely appear shaven. Some healthier people may enter the classroom and make comments about their looks, in this same situation. It's just that I don't want to say anything, due to shyness, not many friends, solidified preconceptions, etc... But I do care. On the other hand, a more deluded person than I may even lie to himself that he does not care he is looking better today, go to the place where people are, act like if nothing is different, and if somebody says something, act flattered and like if you did not even know you were different.
Now, the above was about appearence, vanity. But there is a more esoteric side to transicx's question and it is deeply related to the way reality is presented to us in this world, to our minds and, dare I say, to the embodiment of spirit in this world.
This issue has haunted me for years. It is also related to the inability of some group of socially awkward people to recognize irony, among other things. It has to do with details and essence.
Note that transcix gave specific examples: They were not just show-off photos of hot bodies, prestigious situations (receiving prize, etc.) and money. There are preconceived notions, pre-fabricated faces, archetypes. The lips the girl makes, pointing to your friend on the picutre, exaggerating extremely the face and other stuff to imply one is drunk/high, etc... Often in a way almost like a caricature.
Sadly, I can only describe my feelings by giving examples. And the example I give is, this is also related to spectacle. Like when I was a kid I did not understand at all why other kids were so fascinated with movies with car chases, car races, etc... and did not understand their pleasure when telling something they saw, like a guy going real high in a bike jump or something. I just could never picture it. Later, when I discovered marijuana, I got to understand it a little better.
This is also related to sitcoms: I have seen moments in sitcoms that weren't even funny. But they put that damn laugh there anyway and make a funny situation.
I remember an episode of Seinfeld when Elaine is worried about something and tells her boyfriend Puddy, and he says: "Talk to me, babe." I mean, that's not even funny. But they put the laughs anyway. Yes, I know this is a pre-fabricated line in america, so the fact that puddy decided to use it confirms the fact that he is an average guy or something and this is funny, but still...
Now we are going to get closer to the point: Another aspect I never got was how people, specially in songs, and this is important, and it happens a lot in rap songs, use some totally trivial thing in a way which makes it fit the spectacle and look cool. BUT, the thing must be in relation to something else that is happening, it must be a detail, like a tattoo. A tattoo does not make anyone mor alternative or badass. But if you have something of either of those two in ya, it is going to make you look more of it. So you got rap artists saying stuff like "Rolling trought the neighborhood all day long, starting to get cold so I put my jacket on!"
Putting a jacket on is not cool, but you're missing the point. As I said, saying these little details in the right way, at the right time captivates people. You will see that they like those parts of the song as much as less trivial ones. It is inseparable to them, as it should, because it indicated an unity.
Now considering the pre-made faces the girls make and other situations in photos, it is all about the body. the body is already here, it is divine, it is complete, it is beautiful. Most of it is inside, the essence, the mind, achievements, etc... That stuff cannot be all shown in photos. But the spirit seeks to express itself in all places, facial expressions, body, clothes, scenes, etc... So it is not enough, in a photo, to show you are drinking beer. Take a fucking photo of you and your friend with faces like maniacs and a refrigerator full of beer cans, or thousands of beer boxes. (Who has not seen one like this?).
This has to do with the mind expressing itself in the physical.
You may have a rapper who is muscled, with tattoos, diamond earings, harsh and famous. The fans can say look at that great tattoo, or those clothes... but this does not make the rapper. He would be viewed differently without those itens, but they do not make him. They are details. The mind, seeing the picture, focus on the details in order to better define.
And I'm only explaning 1% of what I feel, but this issue is very hard to talk about.
Another example is humor: See how much in stand up comedy is details. It gotta have substance, but the right detail said in the right way can take the crowd to delirium. Yet, the detail itself would be nothing (we still need bodies, nature, etc.. in the photos, not just the cute details mentioned).
Another example: A guy sings: "Rolling in the hood in my new bike, it's a (brand name) so it is fine, pass throught some kids outside that's playing, damn it's time for me to start slaying."
Don't nobody give a fuck about his new bike, and yet, this gives a new charm to the song.
There is a older person close to me that said that when you take off your shirt and put it in your soulder, it's "charming". That is another perfect example, but only people who live near the beach will understand because people at least here do this. Why should the fact that the person has the shirt on his shoulder, as opposed to being no-shirt but without shirt in shoulder, be more desirable? Because it has a great involvment with environment, people, conditions... It may be that once it was just a plain fact, in hot days, to do this. But due to repetition it becomes a "charm".
Here in anus, this thing I'm mentioning is present at the humorous texts: The writer makes use of all details available to him.
The key, for me, has to do with inversion, and the fact that we are tridimensional bodies looking outisde at effects.
I wrote the above without much care, but if someone begins to grasp what I'm talking about and wants to discuss, post here.
I hope I did not give the impression that it is all simulation and appearence: Most people who show exaggerated drunk photos really were drunk. The sexy girls really are sexy, etc... The details only confirm and enhance it, but they would do nothing by themselves. That's why it's nice to take a drunk picture at a dance club or party: It's genuine.