We’ve all seen it. The girl with her phone held upwards at a 45 degree angle, taking a picture of herself with pursed lips. Every day and practically everywhere, we see people taking these types of photos, otherwise known as selfies.
What is a “selfie”? To quote Wikipedia, “A selfie is a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand held digital camera or a camera phone. Selfies are often associated with social networking.”
While an association to social media is understandable, this type of picture is unfortunately also associated with conceited and narcissistic behavior. People who take selfies are often labelled as self-centered “attention whores.” However, selfies are actually positive and promote confidence in your body image and in yourself.
The recent influx of selfies started in 2010, and peaked in late 2012. However, the act of taking selfies continues to remain common and popular today. In 2013, the word “selfie” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary, when it was also picked as the word of the year.
People usually take these flattering pictures of themselves with their smartphones. Often, the prettiest selfies are uploaded to social media sites/apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, where they can be shared and seen by friends.
People who do not take selfies tend to look at them in a negative light. Even the most professional-looking self portraits will get bombarded with comments that say things like, “Stop looking for attention!” and “Eww, don’t cover your face with makeup!” It is a common misconception that selfie-takers post their pictures fishing for compliments.
In reality, most people take selfies because they give individuals confidence and because they are proud to flaunt their beauty. Additionally, hoping for compliments is not a negative thing. It should not be a shameful thing to want to look great and show the world that you look great.
That being said, most people take selfies for themselves rather than to impress other people. When people post their pictures for all to see, it shows that they have moved past their petty flaws and believe that they are beautiful. It both shows and creates a positive body image and self image when a person is able to see his or her own beauty. In a world ridden with self-esteem issues, it is encouraging to see people both accepting their looks and supporting people who do.
Another misconception about selfies is that it is a new grade of narcissism that accompanies the new technology of the twenty-first century. But selfies are not a new thing. In Elizabethan times, many royals would hire artists to paint hundreds of pictures of them. Rather than a quick click of the iPhone’s plus button, the individual would sit for hours as a professional painted them just so they could have a self portrait.
As soon as the first cameras rolled around, people began to take selfies. The first photographic selfie was taken in 1839 by Robert Cornelius. Since it became possible, people have taken selfies. The selfie sensation has only become popular recently because the internet has made sharing images both easy and possible.
One point that is valid is that too many selfies is too many. I have met people who have thousands of selfies on their phone. When I try to hang out with them at the mall, they sometimes stop somewhere because they want to take a picture. While selfie culture is really great, do not let this habit hamper your hobbies or your interactions with others.
Selfies are not conceited. Despite what you as an individual may think, try taking a selfie today. You will look great and feel great, and perhaps discover why people love to express themselves through photos.