On The Selfie

selfie of me with popcorn

selfie of me with popcorn

Oxford Dictionary named it 2013’s word of the year. I name it the word of the f****** century. It’s about time I covered the selfie–a bit of life that unintentionally has grown to define a generation.

If we are two things, it is communicative and narcissistic. Combine these concepts and the selfie is born. In 2006, Apple released the first MacBook installed with iSight. In 2010 the iPhone 4 came out with two cameras–one front facing–and a year later the iPad 2 was produced with the same camera model. In 2007, my mom decided she wanted to start taking what would eventually be given the name “selfies” with her Nikon digital camera (these were the days before DSLRs) and claimed that one day, she would publish a book of photos titled “At An Arm’s Length.” And now, as we near the end of 2013, the selfie has become a socially acceptable reason to make an odd face while staring longingly into your iPhone camera. Oh, onlookers think, it’s just a selfie.

selfie of feminism, power women, and all things great about life

selfie of feminism, power women, and all things great about life

We love the selfie so much that we decided to make it transportable. At one point, we were satisfied with opening an application on our laptops and having the ability to give ourselves a good “check out” in the middle of class or while trying to get shit done at Starbucks. But Photobooth wasn’t enough. We needed to look at ourselves on our tablets; on our phones. Suddenly, everything became a mirror with which we could capture moments of life we wanted to keep forever (or until your iPhone lays itself to rest).

Selfie etiquette is a whole other topic in itself, but I suppose I can squeeze in a quick summary… don’t mupload solo selfies–you aren’t Kendall Jenner. Make sure your albums are a solid and equal combination of selfie and regular pics. Make the selfie comical and cute. Emphasize the skinny arm. Document crucial events with the selfie.

Example: selfie of the time my friend vomited in the back of a cab and I sat shotgun because I didn't want to deal with it

Example: selfie of the time my friend vomited in the back of a cab and I sat shotgun because I didn’t want to deal with it

I love the selfie more than I love a good Free People sale. Does this make me obsessed with myself? I’m not sure. My mom says I think I’m a princess, which is half true, but I don’t know if I’d go far enough to say I’m obsessed with myself. I don’t know if I’d go far enough to say that all of the people who take selfies are obsessed with themselves, either. Samsung says that 30% of photos taken by people between the ages of 18 and 35 are selfies. 75% of “normal weight” women say they constantly think about their weight and appearance. So why do the statistics say we’re self-loving when it seems like we’re in an era of incredible self-loathing?

The link between body image issues and selfies exists but is almost as incomprehensible as the Bound 2 music video. I’d like to propose a new angle on selfies: maybe they’re a good thing. Maybe we should let ourselves soak in the good lighting and flattering effects that iOS 7 provides (bitches love chrome). Maybe getting a good look at ourselves in the mirror–making ourselves look Instagram-worthy or mupload material–could help to battle this self esteem. It may be a good thing to get a look at ourselves from the shoulders up. Maybe this post is heavily influenced by the intense food coma I’m suffering right now. Maybe the diet starts tomorrow. Maybe tonight I’ll take a really great selfie and feel better about myself.

Maybe we should just let the selfie be.

Image via



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