Selfies. Love them or hate them they are here to stay. There has now even been a god awful song written about them. Although the song massively offends my ears I can relate to it. My friend and I were out the other night and it came on in the club. We look at each other and laughed at how much the dialogue sounded like us. We take so many selfies in mirrors together when we go out. No toilet stop in wetherspoons is complete without a new photo gracing our Instagram accounts.
Selfies are no new phenomenon however. Although the term was coined in 2002 artists have been painting self portraits throughout history. Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali- they were all at it! Frida Kahlo once said “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best”. I find it beautiful that by painting or photographing yourself you are drawing inspiration from inside.
The first first photographic “selfie” was taken by amateur photographer Robert Cornelius in 1839. Even back then people wanted to preserve their image through their own means. There’s something so strange about looking at a photo of your self. You never look quite how you imagine which can be quite magical but also unsettling.
Some people hate selfies saying they are self indulgent, which is true, they really are. However what’s wrong with a little bit or a whole barrel full of self indulgence? If someone has the confidence to put an image of themselves out there on the internet for everyone to see then they should be applauded not ridiculed. A selfie is true self expression. Not only are you the model, you are also the photographer, creative director, stylist, make-up artist- you are the whole package! Selfies can be an art form if you choose. They can be a visual diary, documenting your daily life. They can tell a story. They are memories. It gives people confidence to be themselves and to love themselves.
Since getting Instagram in September I have taken more selfies than ever before. Back in college for photography I did a self portraiture project. I found it a real struggle as I was nervous in front of the camera, even if I was the one behind the lens. It’s crazy to feel nervous in front of yourself. In the end I loved those images and they still remain some of my favourite images from my A level work. When I got Instagram I stared seeing selfies more and more. My friends were posting them, my idols were posting them, I couldn’t escape them. It took me a while to embrace them, I posted some but they were few and far between. Then one day I caught myself looking in the mirror and thinking- “I look good, I’m gonna instagram this!”. Now I do this all the time. At first I felt guilty for being so self indulgent and vain. But then it hit me- fuck it! In the words of Ru Paul- “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
I say all hail the selfie! Anything that makes someone feel good about themselves and doesn’t put anyone down is a fabulous thing! I will leave you with this video by Laci Green. She sums up why she loves selfies and thinks they are great for body positivity.