From WikiLove - The Encyclopedia of Love


This article is about self-photographs. For other uses, see Selfie (disambiguation).


A typical selfie, shot from a high angle, exaggerating the size of the eyes and giving the impression of a slender pointed chin

A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They are usually flattering and made to appear casual. Most selfies are taken with a camera held at arm's length or pointed at a mirror, rather than by using a self-timer. A selfie stick may be used to widen the angle of view, such as for group selfies.



First known selfie, taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839.

Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography, produced a daguerreotype of himself in 1839 which is also one of the first photographs of a person. Because the process was slow he was able to uncover the lens, run into the shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap.[1] He recorded on the back "The first light Picture ever taken. 1839."[1][2]

Woman taking her picture in a mirror, ca 1900.

The debut of the portable Kodak Brownie box camera in 1900 led to photographic self-portraiture becoming a more widespread technique. The method was usually by mirror and stabilizing the camera either on a nearby object or on a tripod while framing via a viewfinder at the top of the box.[3] Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna at the age of 13 was one of the first teenagers to take her own picture using a mirror to send to a friend in 1914. In the letter that accompanied the photograph, she wrote, "I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hands were trembling."[4]

The earliest usage of the word selfie can be traced as far back as 2002. It first appeared in Karl Kruszelnicki's 'Dr Karl Self-Serve Science Forum', an Australian internet forum (ABC Online) on 13 September 2002.[5][6]

The concept of uploading group self-taken photographs to the internet, although with a disposable camera and not a smartphone, dates to a webpage created by Australians in September 2001, including photos taken in the late 1990s (captured by the Internet Archive in April 2004).[7][8][9]


The term "selfie" was discussed by photographer Jim Krause in 2005,[10] although photos in the selfie genre predate the widespread use of the term. In the early 2000s, before Facebook became the dominant online social network, self-taken photographs were particularly common on MySpace. However, writer Kate Losse recounts that between 2006 and 2009 (when Facebook became more popular than MySpace), the "MySpace pic" (typically "an amateurish, flash-blinded self-portrait, often taken in front of a bathroom mirror") became an indication of bad taste for users of the newer Facebook social network. Early Facebook portraits, in contrast, were usually well-focused and more formal, taken by others from distance. In 2009 in the image hosting and video hosting website Flickr, Flickr users used 'selfies' to describe seemingly endless self-portraits posted by teenage girls.[11] According to Losse, improvements in design—especially the front-facing camera of the iPhone 4 (2010), mobile photo apps such as Instagram and Snapchat led to the resurgence of selfies in the early 2010s.[12]

Buzz Aldrin took the first EVA selfie in 1966.

Initially popular with young people, selfies gained wider popularity over time.[13][14] By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered selfie one of the "top 10 buzzwords" of that year; although selfies had existed long before, it was in 2012 that the term "really hit the big time".[15] According to a 2013 survey, two-thirds of Australian women age 18–35 take selfies—the most common purpose for which is posting on Facebook.[14] A poll commissioned by smartphone and camera maker Samsung found that selfies make up 30% of the photos taken by people aged 18–24.[16] By 2013, the word "selfie" had become commonplace enough to be monitored for inclusion in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary.[17] In November 2013, the word "selfie" was announced as being the "word of the year" by the Oxford English Dictionary, which gave the word itself an Australian origin.[18]

Selfies have also been taken beyond Earth. Selfies taken in space include those by astronauts,[19] an image by NASA's Curiosity rover of itself on Mars,[20] and images created by an indirect method, where a self-portrait photograph taken on Earth is displayed on a screen on a satellite, and captured by a camera.[21]

In 2011 a crested black macaque stole a wildlife photographer's camera, and when the camera was later recovered it was found to contain hundreds of selfies, including one of a grinning female macaque. This incident set off an unusual debate about copyright.Template:Relevance-inline[22]

In October 2013, Imagist Labs released an iOS app called Selfie, which allows users to upload photos only from their front-facing smartphone camera.[23] The app shows a feed of public photos of everyone’s selfies and from the people they follow. The app does not allow users to comment and users can only respond with selfies. The app soon gained popularity among teenagers.

In January 2014, during the Sochi Winter Olympics, a "Selfie Olympics" meme was popular on Twitter, where users took self-portraits in unusual situations.[24] The spread of the meme took place with the usage of the hashtags #selfiegame and #selfieolympics.[25]

In April 2014, the advertising agency iStrategyLabs produced a two-way mirror capable of automatically posting selfies to Twitter, using facial recognition software.[26]

The popularity of selfies in social media has been astounding.[27] Instagram has over 53 million photos tagged with the hashtag #selfie. The word “selfie” was mentioned in Facebook status updates over 368,000 times during a one-week period in October 2013. During the same period on Twitter, the hashtag #selfie was used in more than 150,000 tweets.


The appeal of selfies comes from how easy they are to create and share, and the control they give self-photographers over how they present themselves. Many selfies are intended to present a flattering image of the person, especially to friends whom the photographer expects to be supportive.[13][14] However, a 2013 study of Facebook users found that posting photos of oneself correlates with lower levels of social support from and intimacy with Facebook friends (except for those marked as Close Friends).[28] The lead author of the study suggests that "those who frequently post photographs on Facebook risk damaging real-life relationships."[29] The photo messaging application Snapchat is also largely used to send selfies. Some users of Snapchat choose to send intentionally-unattractive selfies to their friends for comedic purposes.

Posting intentionally unattractive selfies has also become common in the early 2010s—in part for their humor value, but in some cases also to explore issues of body image or as a reaction against the perceived narcissism or over-sexualization of typical selfies.[30]

Gender roles, sexuality, and privacy

Selfies are popular among both genders. Sociologist Ben Agger describes the trend of selfies as "the male gaze gone viral", and sociologist and women's studies professor Gail Dines links it to the rise of "porn culture" and the idea that sexual attractiveness is the only way in which a woman can make herself visible.[31] Writer Andrew Keen has pointed out that while selfies are often intended to give the photographer control over how their image is presented, posting images publicly or sharing them with others who do so may have the opposite effect—dramatically so in the case of revenge porn, where ex-lovers post sexually explicit photographs or nude selfies to exact revenge or humiliate their former lovers.[31] Nonetheless, some feminists view selfies as a subversive form of self-expression that narrates one's own view of desirability. In this sense, selfies can be empowering and offer a way of actively asserting agency.[32] Copyright law may be effective in forcing the removal of private selfies from public that were forwarded to another person.[33]

In 2013 in the blog Jezebel, author Erin Gloria Ryan criticized selfies, stating that the images they often portray, as well as the fact that they are usually posted to social media with the intent of getting positive comments and "likes", reinforce the "notion that the most valuable thing [a young woman] has to offer the world is her looks."[34] The Jezebel post provoked commentary on Twitter from users arguing that selfies could empower women by promoting different standards of beauty, leading to the adoption of the hashtag #feministselfie.[35] Media critic Jennifer Pozner saw selfies as particularly powerful for women and girls did not see themselves portrayed in mainstream media.[36]

Celebrity selfies

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and footballer Ji So Yun

Many celebrities – especially sex symbols – post selfies for their followers on social media, and provocative or otherwise interesting celebrity selfies are the subject of regular press coverage. Some commentators, such as Emma Barnett of The Telegraph, have argued that sexy celebrity selfies (and sexy non-celebrity selfies) can be empowering to the selfie-takers but harmful to women in general as they promote viewing women as sex objects.[37] Actor and avid selfie poster James Franco wrote an op-ed for The New York Times defending this frequent use of selfies on his Instagram page.[38] Franco defends the self-portrait stating they should not be seen as an egocentric act, but instead a journalistic moment as it cultivates a "visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you're feeling, where you are, what you're doing", much like a photojournalist image.[38]

Franco continued to write how peoples' social lives are
more electronic, we become more adept at interpreting social media. And, as our social lives become more electronic, we become more adept at interpreting social media. A texting conversation might fall short of communicating how you are feeling, but a selfie might make everything clear in an instant. Selfies are tools of communication more than marks of vanity (but yes, they can be a little vain).[38]

A selfie orchestrated during the 86th Academy Awards by host Ellen DeGeneres is the most retweeted image ever.[39][40] DeGeneres said she wanted to homage Meryl Streep's record 18 Oscar nominations by setting a new record with her, and invited twelve other Oscar celebrities to join them, which included Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Channing Tatum, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Spacey, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o, Jared Leto and Jennifer Lawrence. The resulting photo of the celebrities broke the previous retweet record within forty minutes, and was retweeted over 1.8 million times in the first hour.[41][42][43] By the end of the ceremony it had been retweeted over 2 million times, less than 24 hours later, it had been retweeted over 2.8 million times.[40][41] It beat the previous record, 778,801, which was held by Barack Obama, following his victory in the 2012 presidential election.[43][44][45]

Politician selfies

Bill Nye takes a selfie with US President Barack Obama and Neil deGrasse Tyson at the White House

President Barack Obama made news headlines during Nelson Mandela's memorial celebration at the Johannesburg's FNB Stadium with various world leaders, as he was snapped taking a selfie and sharing smiles with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and later with British Prime Minister David Cameron, as they gathered to pay tribute to Mandela.[46] The decision to take the selfies was considered to be in poor taste, as British political columnist Iain Martin critiqued the behaviour as "clowning around like muppets".[46] The photos also depict the First Lady Michelle Obama sitting next to them looking "furious and mortified".[46] Despite the criticism, Roberto Schmidt, the photographer who captured the photos taken at the celebration, reported to the Today show it was taken at "a jovial, celebratory portion of the service".[47]

In India, BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi posted a selfie on Twitter after voting in Gandhinagar, India. The post became a major trending item on the micro-blogging platform.[48] In July 2014, the Swiss government became the first to take and post a picture of an entire national government (the picture was taken by one of the seven members of the government, Alain Berset).[49]

Group selfies

In January 2014, Business Insider published a story referring to such images as "usies".[50] A photograph of Pope Francis with visitors to the Vatican has been called an usie by The Daily Dot,[51][52] and TMZ has used the term to describe a selfie taken of celebrity couple Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.[50][53]

The term "groufie" has been trademarked by Chinese phone manufacturer Huawei Technologies in China, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.S.[54][55] The word was introduced during the launch of its Ascend P7 smartphone in 2014.[56] Huawei defines the groufie as a panoramic selfie involving multiple subjects, as well as background scenery, captured using the front facing, 8-megapixel camera and panorama capabilities of its phones.[57][58][59]

Another term for a group selfie is "wefie", originally trademarked by Samsung in the U.S. to promote the wide-angle lens of its NX series of cameras.[55][60][61][62]

In popular culture

  • In August 2013, The Guardian produced a film series titled Thinkfluencer[63] exploring selfie exposure in the UK.
  • American dance music duo The Chainsmokers released a single #SELFIE in 2014.
  • In August 2014, selfie was officially accepted for use in the word game Scrabble[64][65]
  • In September 2014, a short-lived romantic comedy television series titled Selfie premiered on ABC in the United States. The series follows the life of Eliza Dooley, a woman obsessed with the idea of achieving fame through the use of social media platforms, including Instagram, where she regularly posts selfies. She begins to worry that "friending" people online is not a substitute for real friendship, so she seeks help from Henry Higgs, a marketing image guru, to gain friends in the real world and become less self-centered. The show is largely a critique of perceived narcissism in social media.[66]

Psychology and neuroscience

According to a study performed by Nicola Bruno and Marco Bertamini at the University of Parma, selfies by non-professional photographers show a slight bias for showing the left cheek of the selfie-taker.[67] This is similar to what has been observed for portraits by professional painters from many different historical periods and styles,[68] indicating that the left cheek bias may be rooted in asymmetries of brain lateralization that are well documented within cognitive neuroscience. In a second study,[69] the same group tested if selfie takers without training in photography spontaneously adhere to widely prescribed rules of photographic composition, such as the rule of thirds. It seems that they do not, suggesting that these rules may be conventional rather than hardwired in the brain's perceptual preferences.

In April 2014, a man diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder recounted spending ten hours a day attempting to take the "right" selfie, attempting suicide after failing to produce what he perceived to be the perfect selfie.[70] The same month brought several scholarly publications linking excessive selfie posting with body dysmorphic disorder.<scribunto-parser-error>

Psychological studies conducted in 2015 among social media users suggest that there is a relationship between selfie-posting behaviors and narcissism. The link between number of selfies posted online and narcissism was stronger among men than women.[1]

Injuries while taking photos

For more details on this topic, see List of selfie-related injuries and deaths.

In April 2014, a Russian amateur photographer (17 years old), climbed atop a railway bridge in Saint Petersburg and ended up losing her balance, falling to her death after taking a selfie.[2]

In July 2014, a fourteen-year-old girl high school student in the Philippines fell to her death after losing her balance while taking a selfie of herself and a friend near the staircase landing of their school in suburban Pasig City. According to doctors, the girl sustained a sharp blow to the head from the fall and a rib had broken, piercing her kidney.[3]

In August 2014, a fifteen-year-old boy, also in the Philippines, was critically wounded after accidentally shooting himself while taking a selfie in which his other hand was holding a gun to his chin.[4]

In August 2014, a 21-year-old Mexican veterinarian who had been drinking, pointed a gun to his temple for a selfie and released a shot, killing himself.[5]

In May 2015, a Romanian eighteen-year-old died when she attempted to take the “ultimate selfie”, posing with a friend on top of a train in the north-eastern Romanian city of Iași when her leg touched a live wire above, sending an electrical surge of up to 27,000 volts through her body.[6]

In May 2015, a Russian 21-year-old woman asked a security guard at her office to give her a 9-millimeter rubber-bullet pistol for taking a selfie and accidentally shot herself in the head sustaining heavy injuries.[7]

In July 2015, a Russian university graduate (21 years old) died after falling from a bridge while she was trying to take a memorable selfie next to Moscow City financial district.[8]

Also in July 2015, concerned about the increasing number of incidents in Russia where attempts to set up a "cool" or daring selfie have led to injuries and deaths, the Russian Ministry of the Interior released a "Selfie safety guide" that warns selfie enthusiasts about some common dangerous behaviors.[9] (English translation here.)

That same month, a study was published saying that 20% of young Britons had taken selfies while driving a car,[10] and the Italian chief of state police expressed concern over the same phenomenon in Italy on the occasion of the launch of a short film with the title "Selfie".[11][12]

See also


  1. <scribunto-parser-error>
  2. Payne, Samantha (22 April 2014). "Russia: Attempted Selfie Causes Death of Teenager Xenia Ignatyeva". International Business Times. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  3. Felongco, Gilbert P. (4 July 2014). "Student falls to death while taking 'selfie'". Gulf News. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  4. "15-year-old boy accidentally shoots self while taking selfie". ANC Yahoo News. 22 August 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  5. "Drunk Mexican man accidentally shoots himself in head while posing for selfie". (New York). 4 August 2014.
  6. "Romanian teenager dies attempting to take 'ultimate selfie'". The Independent (London). 14 May 2015.
  7. "Snuff selfie: 21yo Russian woman shoots self in head posing for photo". RT. 23 May 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  8. "21yo woman dies in fall from Moscow bridge while taking selfie". RT. 4 July 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  9. "МВД России: Безопасное селфи". RT. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.

External links




Become part of the community of Wikilovers
Build an article or Request an article
Share a Picture
Share a video