I have taken to dreaming about what I will wear when I finally receive my coronavirus vaccine. Maybe it will be my western-inspired button up dress, in honor of Dolly Parton, unlikely pandemic fairy godmother. Or I could also see myself in the rhinestone going-out top I bought on March 10 and have since stuffed into the darkened back corners of my closet. Whatever I decide, the bar has been set by Sir Ian McKellen.
On Wednesday, the legendary actor and LGBTQ activist received his Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in an ebullient rainbow scarf, blue T-shirt, and jeans. Right before he got his jab, McKellen thrust a big thumbs-up for photographers.
“I feel very lucky to have had the vaccine,” he later tweeted. “I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone.”
As Miles Klee wrote in Mel Magazine earlier this month, the “vaccine flex” seems primed to be the most coveted sign of status and wealth for 2021. I am bracing for the vaccine to be another thing I don’t have that I see others on social media enjoy. I have spent this year agog at the lengths influencers went to prove that during a pandemic they still lead better lives than the rest of us. They showed off their Pelotons, Ultrafragola squiggle mirrors, and vacation homes; now add coronavirus antibodies to the list of 2021’s most exclusive must-haves.
McKellen’s understated photo opp leans away from full-on gloat territory. He used his platform to encourage others to get the shot themselves. He repped LGBTQ pride in his choice of accessory. And he included the NHS worker who gave him the jab in the shot, making it less of a flex and more of a public service announcement.
So it is less grating to see McKellen get his vaccine than it will be when, say, a Kardashian-Jenner gets hers on Instagram Live.
Imagine, for a moment, how Kim could use her vaccine selfie—and you know there will be one—to subtly hawk the tank top she wears for the occasion, courtesy of her shapewear line SKIMS.
After a year spent blowing huge, aerosol-filled raspberries at the CDC’s social distancing recommendations in favor of going to house parties, influencers will no doubt flock to get their shots. They will roll up their sleeves, pucker their filler-ed lips, and post a picture thanking essential workers. (And maybe encouraging the rest of us unvaccinated hoards to “stay home!”)
All important stuff to keep in mind when the time comes for the rest of us to take our own vaccination selfies. While this medium of portraiture may be emerging, I think we can agree on some ground rules for taking the perfect one when your number is called.
Step one: Do not be Ivanka Trump. The president’s daughter has hashtagged her way through the last four years, and I have a hunch it will be no different when she gets the chance to roll up her bell sleeves and take a shot in the arm.
She will probably do it with Jared and the kids at her side, and she’ll note her father’s role in such a historic achievement. She will conveniently ignore, of course, the fact that her father consistently undermined scientists and spread misinformation about the coronavirus, leading to countless unnecessary deaths.
Ivanka, take it from me, lead strategist at How Not to Be a Vapid Asshole Consultancy: Retire to your $30 million gated bunker and take that shot in private. No selfie necessary.
I suggest a similar approach for Karlie Kloss, Ivanka’s sister-in-law and an often clumsy defender of her public image and relationship to the Kushners.
Though the model publicly voted for Joe Biden in 2020, she’s friendly with Ivanka and Jared. Someone who was either not very smart or a brilliant troll sent her the $700 Stuart Weitzman boots that Jill Biden wore to vote and quickly became a symbol of sartorial activism. Kloss posed in the boots on Twitter and was rightly lampooned; I can imagine her vaccine selfie would draw similar ire.
As Klee noted in Mel, “guarantee we’re going to see vaccine selfies with the same energy of “I Voted” sticker pics.” In that case, I recommend Beyoncé’s approach to the polls: showing up to your doctor’s appointment in custom Balmain.
Or you could pull a Lady Gaga. The singer voted via a California ballot box; she put on metallic pink platforms, an oversized T-shirt, and strutted out of her car to drop it off while her own song “Babylon” was playing. You could do something similar by throwing on all the unnecessary shit you bought in quarantine and heading to your doctor’s office. Immunization, but make it fashion.
By the time you get the vaccine, of course, your health-care provider might be so over poking people with needles that they have no patience for such theatrics. In which case, you will have to work with what you have. McKellen nailed it with the rainbow scarf, but any accessory that means something to you will do. If all else fails, just go with the goofy thumbs-up.