I love selfies. They’re the biggest breakthrough in photography since (arguably) the invention of the camera itself. I find it difficult to think of any images that satisfy me more than selfies.
Many adults (and plenty of teens — primarily boys) are extremely critical of the selfie, accusing these shots of being vain, or obnoxious, or embarrassing. Taking a selfie in private is conceited; taking a selfie in public is humiliating. Your friends will call you out if they catch you posing for a Snapchat at a party, and posting more than one selfie on any form of social media within a given set of days (maybe weeks) could very well make you a social pariah.
Obviously, I do not share these views. I fucking love selfies. Unfortunately, these are just the social stigmas attached to front-facing photographs. But why? What’s the point of being so cynical about a truly honest self-portrait? If Van Gogh had an iPhone, you bet your ass he would be snapping selfies all damn day. Van Gogh would probably give up painting if he had Snapchat.
Selfies are, in a broad sense, an artistic movement. In an article regarding Kim Kardashian’s new selfie-portrait book, Selfish, contributor David Wallace-Wells said, “Over the last year or two, the selfie’s actually also undergone exactly the kind of category reimagining we’ve been talking about — from punch line and sign of end of culture to subject we can’t stop thinking about as a majorly meaningful relic of the present day.”
What do selfies say about the present day? How will they echo into the next generations? No doubt, they’ll continue to evolve — look at how far they’ve come in just a short amount of time: from the addition of front-facing cameras on iPhones to the newest development in selfie technology, the selfie stick. We see people on college campuses and in Times Square and on the beach using these arm-extenders, and we make fun of them. But maybe they’re just trying to include all of their friends in a picture, or are enjoying a family vacation, or just want to take the best version of a photo that they can without having to ask a stranger to take the picture for them. Maybe they’re just having fun by taking a photograph in which they can be their most authentic selves.
I don’t just love selfies. I love celebrity selfies. These are pictures that let us into the most personal parts of their lives — sometimes without makeup, sometimes with a dog, sometimes late at night. We could have photoshopped pictures of Kylie Jenner on the cover of Cosmo, looking kind of robotic, or we could have her selfie videos on Snapchat, which are hilarious and gorgeous and turn her into a human person rather than a caricature. A huge part of why culture has begun to embrace selfies can be accredited to the Kardashian-Jenner family. It’s noteworthy and kind of commendable that they’ve let us into their lives in such a specific way with their reality show, yet there is still something special about a Kardashian selfie. It reveals so much, and allows us to see them from a different perspective, which is entirely the point of a selfie.
Personally, I don’t like posing for pictures. It causes a lot of drama among family and friends, but I’m a very self-conscious person, and I don’t like seeing pictures and feeling uncomfortable with the way I look. A selfie gives me complete and total control — I dictate the angle, the lighting, the way my hair and face looks. I can delete and not have to worry about it being posted anywhere if I don’t like it. It’s a photograph completely for me.
I recently started a blog where I post my different outfits and selfies, most of them taken while on my break at work. I used to have this selfie blog locked, in which it was only accessible by entering a password. What’s the point of that? In writing this post, I’ve realized that I need to completely detach any shame from my selfies. Why should I, or anyone, feel embarrassed or “self-obsessed” for wanting to share the photos in which we feel our very best? Posting a selfie takes the highest level of confidence. It is, to a degree, a vulnerable image of ourselves that we reveal uncomfortably, and that we try to joke about when we do — “Haha, I posted a selfie, I’m so fake.” Let’s drop that stigma. Let’s be proud to share our selfies.