Several people have informed me that I was completely wrong about selfies, and since they’re all people whose judgment I respect and I wasn’t all that committed to my (admittedly hasty) view anyway, I’ve decided what the hell, they’re right. There was one sentence in the Jezebel article that did neatly sum up a certain genre of selfie that I don’t like – or rather, that I think is demeaning. But meh; that’s not very high up on the list of things to object to, and anyway it’s only one genre, and I wouldn’t want to be without selfies of people with their dogs draped over their shoulder or their cats leering into the lens.
And Amy has a brilliant one full of art history and wit.
First of all let’s back up for a moment and remember what “selfie” is actually slang for. The self-portrait has had a long and very important history in the art world. Painters have painted self-portraits or selfies if you will, for hundreds upon hundreds of years and one could even argue that cave drawings were representative of those very humans drawing on those very walls. “Look at me! I was here and this is how I looked and how I lived!” Since then, artists like Frida Kahlo have used paintings of themselves to express the myriad of human emotions. Yes, Frida wanted you to gaze upon her. She also wanted you to understand her joy and her severe physical and sometimes emotional pain.
Image above is an example of a Frida Kahlo self-portrait
And when photography was invented the self-portrait shifted primarily to that new medium. Since then, artists have, over the years, made careers out of the selfie. I highly encourage you to take a look at the work of photographer and artist Cindy Sherman as an example.
If anything, Sherman took the selfie to the mountaintop and dismantled Ryan’s thoughts on the, “fucked up way society teaches women that their most important quality is their physical attractiveness.” Long before the word “selfie” was coined. Self-portraits can be feminist as fuck.
What I said before? Forget it.