A selfie (/sɛlfiː/) is a self-portrait photograph, typically
taken with a smartphone which may be held in the hand or supported by
a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking services
such as Facebook,
Instagram and Snapchat. They are for vanity, usually
flattering, and are casual in nature (or made to appear casual).
"Selfie" typically refers to self-portrait photos taken with the
camera held at arm's length or pointed at a mirror, as opposed to
those taken by using a self-timer or remote. A selfie, however, need
not include a sole individual as "selfies" may include multiple
subjects. Logically, one would believe that the operative term of
"self" in "selfie" is more applicable to a "self-taken" photograph
rather than an individual being by themselves.
The Oxford English Dictionary, describes a selfie as "a photograph
that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone
and shared via social media". 
3.1 Gender roles, sexuality, and privacy
3.3 Politician selfies
3.4 Group selfies
3.6 3D selfies
4 Psychology and neuroscience
5 In popular culture
6 Injuries while taking photos
8 See also
10 External links
Self-portraits before digital photography
Photographic self-portrait by Robert Cornelius, 1839
Unidentified woman taking her picture in a mirror, c. 1900
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. He recorded on the back "The first light
Picture ever taken. 1839." A copy of his "first selfie" graces
his tombstone at
Laurel Hill Cemetery
Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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. Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, 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
Photographic self-portraiture flourished in the 1970s when affordable
instant cameras birthed a new medium of self-expression, capturing
uncharacteristically personal insight into otherwise conservative
individuals and allowing amateurs to learn photography with
immediate results. This practice transitioned naturally across to
digital cameras as they supplanted film cameras around the turn of the
The first known use of the word selfie in any paper or electronic
medium appeared in an Australian internet forum on 13 September 2002.
In Karl Kruszelnicki's 'Dr Karl Self-Serve Science Forum', a post by
Nathan Hope stated:
Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first
(with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had
a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the
focus, it was a selfie.
Hope has dismissed the notion that he coined the term, describing it
as "something that was just common slang at the time, used to describe
a picture of yourself".
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
As early as 2003, Italian media artist Alberto Frigo started
photographing every object his right hand uses. The life long project
resulted in the first categorized collection of selfies showing the
artist every time he brushed his teeth, every time he put on deodorant
Sony Ericsson Z1010
Sony Ericsson Z1010 mobile phone, released in late 2003,
introduced the concept of a front-facing camera. The Z1010's
front-facing camera had a sensor for selfies and video calls.
The term "selfie" was discussed by photographer Jim Krause in
2005, 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 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,
used 'selfies' to describe seemingly endless self-portraits posted by
teenage girls. According to Losse, improvements in
design—especially the front-facing camera of the iPhone 4 (2010),
mobile photo apps such as
Snapchat led to the resurgence
of selfies in the early 2010s.
Buzz Aldrin took the first EVA selfie in 1966.
Social media apps like
Snapchat encourage people to take
selfies with features like Geofilters, hashtag linking of related
topics, and picture stories. Geofilters allow people to take selfies
with overlays that can be comedic, altering your selfie image with the
ability to show where you are located. In September 2017, Instagram
boasted 500 million daily active users of its self-promotion,
selfie-sharing app and 800 million monthly active users.
Snapchat reports 178 million daily active users of its service. As of
July 2017, in order of popularity, the four most popular social
networking services are Facebook,
Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and
Initially popular with young people, selfies gained wider popularity
over time. Life and business coach Jennifer Lee, in January
2011, was the first person to coin it as a hashtag on
Instagram. 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". 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. A poll commissioned by smartphone and camera
Samsung found that selfies make up 30% of the photos taken by
people aged 18–24.
"Monkey selfie" of a macaque who had picked up a camera.
By 2013, the word "selfie" had become commonplace enough to be
monitored for inclusion in the online version of the Oxford English
Dictionary. 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.
Selfies have also been taken beyond Earth. Selfies taken in space
include those by astronauts, an image by NASA's
Curiosity rover of
itself on Mars, 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.
In 2011, a crested black macaque pressed a trigger on a wildlife
photographer's camera, set up in an Indonesian jungle for that
specific purpose; 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.
In 2016, a federal judge ruled that the monkey cannot own the
copyright to the images.
In October 2013, Imagist Labs released an iOS app called Selfie, which
allows users to upload photos only from their front-facing smartphone
camera. 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 describing the popularity of the "foot selfie", a photograph taken
of one's feet while sunbathing at exotic locations, The Hollywood
Reporter said that it could be "2014's social media pose to beat".
In January 2014, during the Sochi Winter Olympics, a "
meme was popular on Twitter, where users took self-portraits in
unusual situations. The spread of the meme took place with the
usage of the hashtags #selfiegame and #selfieolympics.
In April 2014, the advertising agency iStrategyLabs produced a two-way
mirror capable of automatically posting selfies to Twitter, using
facial recognition software.
Selfies have been popular on social media.
Instagram has over 53
million photos tagged with the hashtag #selfie. The word "selfie" was
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 pop-up museum called The Museum of Selfies is scheduled to open
its doors to all selfie lovers in the year 2018 in Glendale, a suburb
of Los Angeles County, California.
Taking selfies is very popular at wedding ceremonies.
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. However, a 2013 study of Facebook
users found that posting photos of oneself correlates with lower
levels of social support from and intimacy with
(except for those marked as Close Friends). The lead author of the
study suggests that "those who frequently post photographs on Facebook
risk damaging real-life relationships." The photo messaging
Snapchat is also largely used to send selfies. Some users
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.
The practice of taking selfies has been criticised not only for being
narcissistic, preventing assessment and appreciation of what is
happening in the present, but also for being mindlessly conformist
behaviour, when everyone does what everyone else is doing, "like that
The Life of Brian
The Life of Brian – where the crowd gathers outside Brian's
window and enthusiastically chants in unison: 'Yes, we're all
individuals! ... Yes, we are all different!' "
Gender roles, sexuality, and privacy
Selfies are popular among both genders; however, 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. Feminist
writer Megan Murphy has pointed out that posting images publicly or
sharing them with others who do so may have a dramatic effect in the
case of revenge porn, where ex-lovers post sexually explicit
photographs or nude selfies to exact revenge or humiliate their former
lovers. 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 positive and offer a way of actively
Copyright law may be effective in forcing the
removal of private selfies from public that were forwarded to another
In 2013 in the blog Jezebel, author Erin Gloria Ryan criticized
selfies, believing 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." The Jezebel post provoked commentary on Twitter from users
arguing that selfies could be positive for women by promoting
different standards of beauty. Media critic
Jennifer Pozner saw
selfies as particularly powerful for women and girls who did not see
themselves portrayed in mainstream media.
Research shows that there is a particular difference between
perspectives of youngsters and adults. "While not all representative
of all young people’s experiences of digital picture-sharing
cultures, these discussions point to a significant gap between young
people’s own interpretations of their ordinary or everyday digital
practices and adults’ interpretations of these practices."
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. Actor and avid selfie
James Franco wrote an op-ed for
The New York Times
The New York Times defending
this frequent use of selfies on his
Instagram page. Franco defends
the self-portrait stating they should not be seen as an egocentric
act, but instead a journalistic moment as the selfie "quickly and
easily shows, not tells, how you're feeling, where you are, what
you're doing" in a way that a text communication might fail to
A selfie orchestrated during the
86th Academy Awards
86th Academy Awards by host Ellen
DeGeneres was, at one point, the most retweeted tweet ever.
DeGeneres said she wanted to pay homage to 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. 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. It beat the previous record,
778,801, which was held by Barack Obama, following his victory in the
2012 presidential election.
Bill Nye takes a selfie with US President
Barack Obama and Neil
deGrasse Tyson at the White House
Barack Obama made news headlines during Nelson
Mandela's memorial celebration at 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. 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".
The photos also depict the First Lady
Michelle Obama sitting next to
them looking "furious and mortified". 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".
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. 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).
Former Italian Prime Minister
Matteo Renzi taking a selfie with a
supporter in Bologna.
The Portuguese President
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is known to pose for
several selfies in public appearances, once even claiming to have
posed for "over 1500 selfies" in three days, during which he estimated
to have greeted about four thousand people — the social media
phenomenon has coined the term "Marcelfie" to refer to these. Most
notably, the President posed for a selfie with Prime Minister António
Costa in the Paris City Hall, during the
Portugal Day ceremonies there
on 10 June 2016.
Bangladeshi girls taking group selfie at Pohela Falgun.
In January 2014,
Business Insider published a story referring to
selfies of groups as usies. A photograph of
Pope Francis with
visitors to the Vatican was called an usie by The Daily Dot,
TMZ has used the term to describe a selfie taken of celebrity
Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.
The term "groufie" has been trademarked by Chinese phone manufacturer
Huawei Technologies in China, France, Germany, Russia, and the
U.S. The word was introduced during the launch of its Ascend
P7 smartphone in 2014.
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.
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
Devices for holding smartphones or compact cameras called selfie
sticks are often used when taking group selfies, as they allow a
wider, more panoramic image capture.
Another technology for taking such images is the selfie drone. The
concept of taking a dronie (as an alternative to a selfie) first
entered the mainstream in 2014 and coincided with a relatively sudden
increase in the availability of relatively cheap, camera bearing
multicopter drones. In 2014, the Nixie drone was designed to serve
as a "personal photographer".
Main article: 3D selfie
3D selfie in 1:20 scale printed by
Shapeways using gypsum-based
3D selfie photo booth at Madurodam
A 3D photo booth such as the Fantasitron located at Madurodam, the
miniature park, generates
3D selfie models from 2D pictures of
customers. These selfies are often printed by dedicated 3D printing
companies such as Shapeways. These models are also known as 3D
portraits, 3D figurines or mini-me figurines.
Psychology and neuroscience
First, Farace, van Laer, de Ruyter, and Wetzels reveal three
photography techniques with which people are more likely to engage:
action and person rather than 'just' selfies;
adaptation into artfulness.
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.
This is similar to what has been observed for portraits by
professional painters from many different historical periods and
styles, 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, 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
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. The same month brought several scholarly
publications linking excessive selfie posting with body dysmorphic
A more recent study examining the relationship between personality and
selfie-posting behaviors suggests that extroversion and social
exhibitionism positively predict frequency of selfie posting, whereas
self-esteem is generally unrelated to selfie-posting behaviors.
Selfitis is a condition described as the obsessive taking of
selfies. In 2014, news stories began to appear claiming that
selfitis would be considered a mental disorder by the American
Psychiatric Association. It was quickly realized to be a hoax.
Although it was found to be a hoax, this opened the door for empirical
research to be conducted on the topic.
Obsessive taking of selfies and posting to social media has been found
to be linked to many symptoms common to mental disorders. This
includes narcissism, low self-esteem, loneliness, self-centeredness,
and attention seeking behaviors
Another event that may have given rise to the term "selfitis" was when
Danny Bowman, a 19 year old, attempted suicide after being obsessed
with selfies. Reports had shown that he took up to 200 photos of
himself every day The original article also claimed that there
were three behavioral levels to the condition selfitis. These were
defined as borderline (taking a selfie at least three times a day, but
not sharing the selfie on any social media), acute (taking a selfie at
least three times a day and sharing to on social media, or chronic
(having an uncontrollable urge to take a selfie and sharing those
photos on social media at least six times a day).
The classification of selfitis was found to be a hoax, but did gain
commercial popularity and has been empirically studied as a mental
disorder. Although there have been studies done on obsessive selfie
taking, it is currently not listed as a mental disorder in the
In popular culture
In August 2014, selfie was officially accepted for use in the word
game Scrabble. 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
Injuries while taking photos
Further information: List of selfie-related injuries and deaths
The first known selfie-related death occurred 15 March 2014, when a
man electrocuted himself on top of a train.
2014, 'The Year of the Selfie', was also the year
Makati and Pasig,
Selfie Capital of the World', saw their first selfie-related death
when a 14 year old girl fell from the 3rd floor staircase landing to
In 2015 it was reported that more people had been killed taking
selfies that year than by shark attacks. Other publications have
debated that analysis. Takers of selfie photographs
have fallen to their deaths while losing their balance in a precarious
position, and others have been wounded or killed while
posing with handguns which have accidentally fired.
Concerned about the increasing number of incidents in Russia where
attempts to set up a unique selfie had led to injuries and deaths, the
Russian Ministry of the Interior released a "
Selfie Safety Guide" in
2015 that warned selfie enthusiasts about some common dangerous
behaviors. Moscow, Russia's most active selfie-taking city,
is estimated to have 8 selfie-takers per 100,000 people, and ranks
301st among cities worldwide.
A 2015 study showed that 20% of young Britons had taken selfies while
driving a car.
Manchester has the highest amount of selfie-takers
per capita in
Great Britain with 114 per 100,000 people, and ranks 7th
internationally. 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".
Milan is the
8th most active selfie-taking city in the world with 108 selfie-takers
per 100,000 people.
On 1 July 2017, four students of Federal University of Technology
Akure, Nigeria, went to a river close to the university and took
selfies on a canoe stationed at the river. The canoe capsized while
the students were taking the pictures, killing two who could not
According to Professor Amanda du Preez, there are least three types of
selfie pictures documenting death:
selfies unknowingly taken before death
selfies of death where the taker’s death is almost witnessed
selfies with death where the taker stands by while someone else dies
This does not include a death or injury sustained while attempting to
take a selfie.
The known nasal distortion that occurs with selfie photographs due to
the proximity of the camera to the subject's face. The effect is known
to distort the nasal appearance because the nose is closer to the
camera than the rest of the face.
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Selfie Guide Translated in English -
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Look up selfie in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Media related to selfies at Wikimedia Commons
Narcissistic personality disorder
Empathy (lack of)
Entitlement (exaggerated sense of)
Narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury
True self and false self
Idealization and devaluation
Dorian Gray syndrome
My way or the highway
History of narcissism
Narcissism of small differences
Narcissistic Personality Inventory
Narcissism (Freud essay)
The Culture of
Narcissism (Lasch book)