If you used the term selfie less than a decade ago, you would have received some very confused looks. Now the word is used every day across the globe, just take a look at your Instagram feed and you will see hundreds of selfies worldwide.
As a self-confessed selfie queen, I take dozens of selfies every day and have never found an issue with the phenomenon. However, I am aware of the disdain that surrounds the selfie world. It is something that confuses me completely. Why are selfies so hated?
People have been taking “selfies” for centuries, from the time of cave paintings to the self-portraits of artists through the ages such as Duhrer and Picasso. When cameras and modern photography were invented, these inventors used timers to take pictures of themselves. The people who turn their noses up at a teenagers’ selfie are the same people who will flock to art galleries to admire Van Gogh’s self-portraits and paintings.
So if we as a society are told to venerate these art forms, why are we shamed for taking selfies? Why are selfies not considered an art form, when other forms of photography are? Is it because they are mass produced, or perhaps it’s because they are mostly taken by teenage girls and young women?
Some people may argue that the mass production of art will decrease the value of all art. Anyone can take a selfie on a smart phone, share it and subsequently anyone can see it. To see the Mona Lisa, you have to travel to the Louvre in France, and to see a selfie you merely have to log onto social media. However, one can make the argument that making art more accessible allows more people to explore their artistic abilities. Anyone can take pictures on their smart phones, rather than art being confined to people who can afford to buy expensive cameras and costly art supplies.
For anyone who has taken a selfie, you know the thought, work and posing that goes on behind the scenes in order to achieve the perfect selfie. The camera angle, the lighting, the mood all affects how the picture comes across and how the audience views the picture. The same thoughts that a photographer who documents landscapes have run through the mind of a good selfie taker.
The ability to take pictures on our phones allows young people to grow in confidence about photography and art, be it a selfie, a picture of someone else or a scenery picture. It may makes art more accessible or even “cheapens” the process for some people, but personally I think it allows so many more people to experience and enjoy an important part of life.
The field of art is dominated by men, but selfies are mostly taken by women. Are selfies so hated because it is a mostly female pastime? In a male dominated society, the interests of women are often pushed to one side or scoffed at. This is slowly changing but the attitude towards selfies shows the remaining disdain towards a woman’s interest.
Selfies are treated as narcissistic and vapid, telling of a woman’s hobbies. We are told that the art of selfies is not as important as other forms of photography. The attitude toward selfies, and what women think is important is clearly not nearly as vital as the work and art of men.
With the hatred of selfies, society tells young girls if they appreciate and love their bodies they are selfish and stupid. Girls are trained to hate their appearance by our culture. When we take selfies it is because we feel beautiful and confident. The hatred of selfies is a knock to young girls’ confidence throughout the world.
Selfies are now an important part of daily life. From our Instagram feed to Kim Kardashian capitalising on the art form with her book Selfish. The idea that taking selfies makes you any less
intelligent or important in the artistic field is blatant lies. You should never be ashamed of your selfies or of your appearance.