This post was originally shared on April 26, 2015.
The next time you stand, arm-stretched out high above your tilted head, lips pouted out and eyes wide open, thinking "YAS! This is the hottest look ever!" you can thank, Robert Cornelius.
I can almost guarantee the 19th century, Philadelphian photographer, who is best known for one of the first "self-portraits" in 1839, is currently rolling in his grave every second some tween snaps a snapchat selfie and sends it to her friends and "oops!" her crush too! While my research spanned as far as clicking a few links on Wikipedia, from hours to numerous brain cells, I've lost significant time perfecting the "selfie" which honestly, could use some work.
Here's some more shocking news.... ya know the hours you spent in front of the mirror perfecting your "bro hard or go home" faces? Complete with backwards baseball cap and "I promise they're really hard not just me sucking it in" abs? Making sure your lipgloss is actually poppin', your boobs are at the right, even because one is always rogue, level and your eye makeup is smudged enough to make you look sexy, but totally casually chic with a slight sense of wanderlust and slut.... you didn't create the "selfie"!!!
Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, yes, the Anastasia, a life cut short, but magically portrayed perfectly by Meg Ryan, had taken a selfie...in a mirror...and sent it to her friend....OWNED!
I'll give you a minute to wipe the tears, snap a YouTube reaction video and regain strength to keep reading.
That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we did not create the "selfie", hell, it's been around longer than the original boy bands...The Jersey Boys. The "selfie" has taken over the world, with hashtags, tv-shows, songs, and ultimately, a "selfie stick", because holding your arm above your head for over 3 seconds is extremely strenuous and difficult. Anastasia was recorded to say in the letter accompanying her "selfie" saying "I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hands were trembling." The fact that the brown box camera at the time weighed significantly more than an iPhone, is just a minor tidbit.
Now, don't think of this as me putting myself on some holier than though pedestal "oh, I don't take selfies, those are for paupers and freaks...". I've been known to rock a great selfie, however as I've taken some time to step back from social media and view it with different eyes, and real glasses, I've noticed a flaw, trend and what I find a huge problem with this "selfie-syndrome" we've created for ourselves.
Let's paint a picture:
You're going out with a bunch of girlfriends, you have a great outfit on, amazing shoes that hurt just enough to keep you focused, but your ability to walk isn't hindered, yet. You've blown out your hair, teased in the right spots, spritzed, fluffed and your makeup is Red Carpet approved. Damn, you look great!
"OMG!!! Let's take selfies!" giggle, giggle, hehehee. *Men, this is exactly how it goes down. No exaggeration whatsoever.
Instantly, the arms go up and the lips pop out. Sounds of fake flickers and sighs of disgust fill the bathroom.
Remember the time you felt like you looked great.......NOPE! Cus you spent so long trying to capture the best angle, which looks NOTHING LIKE YOU, that you've killed any, and all self-confidence. Of course, you settle for the one photo out of maybe 25 that you can throw a filter on, edit the contrast and distort the proportions and post to get the most likes and comments from people who really could care less about what you look like, and the people who do matter in your life have probably seen you in hella worse ways that they would love you if vomit were crusted in your hair, your shaved your eyebrows off and you were still wearing the same pair of sweatpants for 5 days....
1) the act of posing while taking a self-portrait, distorting your key features to the point that a cop would NOT be able to identify you in a line-up
2) spending way too much time self-deprecating over said portraits, which again, don't even look like you, usually silently, listening to the evil gremlin inside your head that tells you you aren't worthy of any real life or love
3) begging, pleading, praying for everyone in your social worlds to approve, like, or double-tap, proving the only way they can share their love, loyalty and friendship.
4) wasting a lot of damn time worrying about yourself and how others see you instead of living in the moment and spending that time having fun with people who choose to hang out with you in the first place.
OK, I'm not trying to completely wipe out the "selfie", but I am trying to bring awareness to how we use the camera lenses to constantly judge ourselves and others. After so many selfies that have been perfected, liked and praised, we get camera shy and freak out when someone else is holding the camera. We've made ourselves unrecognizable to our own eyes. We have trained our minds to only see us in "selfie" mode so when another photo comes up, we can't believe who we are. Our "selfie" life is an edited, filtered view of what we want others to see, when, in fact, it is rarely a self-portrait of the real person inside. If you're only satisfied with the "selfie" you've become, you're doing something wrong.
Years from now, when I look back on my life, I don't want to say "Damn! I took a lot of great photos of myself!" I want to look at photos of the people I love, the wonderful times we shared together and the adventures we had. I don't want to remember the hours I spent editing my life so others approved, I want to remember I lived the life I wanted and am proud of. No "selfie" can show that!