I selfie, therefore I am: our 26 point guide to 21st century narcissism
Image courtesy of @nighcoregirl
Initially spawned by the webcam, the selfie has become an on-the-go medium of self-celebration and envy, and a form of self-portrait accessible to everyman and everywoman – as long as he or she has a smartphone. No wonder selfies, the democratized casual cousin of the auto portrait, have became one of the most popular cultural elements of our generation. Dutch artists and brand creatives Pinar & Viola are no stranger to the creative potential of this medium: from naked mom selfies to 'Bae caught me slippin', they track the rise of this 21st century art form.
A IS FOR ANIMAL BEARDING
Cats are like heroin to a junkie on the internet. They both need each other to exist. So a cat, the internet and you = pretty much the perfect storm – and what's more fun than having your pet cover half of your face so its chin and neck looks like a massive beard? First known as cat bearding, the trend later on spread to dogs, and now even more animal crossovers are possible.
B IS FOR BENNY WINFIELD JR
MrPimpGoodGame is the Instagram handle of Benny Winfield Jr, a man who is happy to show his happiness wherever he goes. He gained the internet's affection by being completely ignorant of the social principles of making a selfie. From the name he choose for his profile, MrPimpGoodGame, to his uncreative selfies with a remarkable heartwarming smile, he reminds us of the times when we didn't spend 10 minutes before making a post. Benny Winfield Jr makes us all jealous by being himself.
C IS FOR COP SELFIES
Alongside with naked mom selfies, cop selfies are the selfie oxymoron. The authority of a policeman, combined with your average banal selfie pose, makes for perfect entertainment. We associate the picture-taking moment of a selfie with fun times, relaxation or some kind of punch-the-air, exceptional occasion. When that applies to a police officer, your mind can't help but conjure up some pretty dark things.
D IS FOR DOLLAR
The exclusive presence of $$$ alone is a solid reason to make a selfie. Itslavishbitch is the Instagram account of Param Sharma, the heir of a wealthy Indian family, also known as Lavish. What would a bored-out-of-his-mind kid with access to Rolls Royces, Rolexes, an American Express card do? He'd make selfies! Here are a few comments highlighting his now-global douche status: "More money on my chest than in yo bank account", "These peasants keep hating while my money keep calculating" and "You made your bed so sleep in it, peasant".
E IS FOR ELEVATOR SELFIES
You're dressed to kill, fresh, waiting alone for 15 sec (such a long time for kids of the internet age), alone with a mirror – yes, it's the supreme moment for a selfie! In the short minute before the elevator doors open onto the real world, you're private in a public space and it's not a toilet. The elevator selfie can be made in any elevator, but it's extra fabulous when its architecture reveals its exclusivity or the people you're sharing it with have more followers than you do.
F IS FOR FAIL SELFIES
Making a selfie has become something so banal and quick that we often do it as a reflective behavior. Mirror, front cam, I feel great, OK, let's do it. Freezing that very moment, however, can be a fatal embarrassment for those who aren't attentive enough or who haven't yet mastered the art of selfie making. Trying too hard, overkill, being too sexy, overconfidence, a photo bomb, revealing something inappropriate in the background, and the annoying humblebrag... All violate the golden rules of the modern self-portrait and will land you on the selfie blacklist.
G IS FOR GUYS WITH FRIES
Our favorite! Two years ago, we featured this Tumblr with skillfully made collages on the Pinar&Viola blog. Your abs, the best project that you've been working hard on, combined with french fries, the top of the #cheatfood, the king of the forbidden food. I'm lovin' it!
H IS FOR THE HILL SISTERS
Kayleigh, Emily and Torrie Hill are the sisters who known for sprinting onto the field to make a selfie during the College World Series baseball finals in June this year. Not only did they throw themselves into the game, got arrested and paid a fat fine, they also livetweeted their act under #freeteamhill and became a web-ternational troll. This proves that the internet will consider your selfie a fail if it's too farfetched or braggadocious, but you'll be hailed for your spirit and considered a hero if it involves a crime, TV and jail.
I IS FOR IPAD SELFIE REFLECTIONS
The iPad selfie is an internet meme that began with people taking the ridiculous look of the iPad selfies one step further. It reflects in different creative manners, as mirror selfies while holding an iMac, TV, white board or even a Xerox machine.
J IS FOR JUDGING
Clearly there's a love affair between selfies, social media, and judging. The power of being judged for your selfie can be measured by that shivery kick when your screen gets filled with hearts, likes and comments on a picture of yourself. When you think about it, someone took the effort of pushing a button over something as unsurprising as your face, something they've probably seen a thousand times. Selfies help to empower our self-esteem while making us attention junkies. Definitely nothing wrong with that. Being judged on social media has made us become the channel, host and the only competitor of our own private X Factor.
K IS FOR KEVIN RUDD
The Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd made it to the internet mainstream with his selfies, varying from a shaving accident to a snap with a homeless person at the background. During a public appearance in August, his words "Just line up for your selfies" echoed over the speakers. As we have witnessed over the last few years, politicians with a fatal management of selfies and their public apology has become the sport en vogue. Thankfully in the case of Kevin Rudd, there is no weiner, nor vulgar nudity involved, but making the headlines for his selfie strategy and not his political ideology makes us think it's time to fire his social media advisor.
L IS FOR LEAKED SNAPCHATS
2012's sweetheart Snapchat made it to our daily consumption list of social media with its magic trick of making photos vanish in less than 10 seconds. Not only did that crucial tweak change our interaction with the image, it also shaped our understanding of intimacy and prompted us to introduce nudity to our selfies. At first, each attempt to make a screenshot would fail and be reported to the sender – but you could still screencap it. It's rumored that you won't even be notified of screenshots if you're running ios7. Yet some still believe in the magic and continue sending images which aren't originally made for public consumption, only to be found on snapchatleaked.com.
M IS FOR MONEY SELFIES
Believed to be deriven from sleeveface meme, money selfies are a creative way to spice up your auto portraits. With a small creative effort, you entertain your followers and be part of a royal currency context. Plus, it's fun. Check out more examples on the Pinar&Viola blog.
N IS FOR NAKED MOM SELFIES
This collection of naked mothers making selfies with their kids accidentally captured in the background makes the number one of oxymoronic selfies. Why are they quite so awkward? The problem isn't that the mother's attention is somewhere else than her kid for a second, it's more that while she's pleasing an unknown beholder while her child's busy knocking his head on a wall. If you want to flaunt yourself on the sexier corners of the internet, keep your kid out of the studio set. Or maybe read this guide for parents taking selfies.
O IS FOR ORIGINALITY
We're all familiar with the few existing golden selfie rules, like no duck/cheese face, be natural, be nonchalant, look like you're having a ball, find your best angle, etc. But on the path to making a great selfie, the hardest is composing yourself in the presence of a famous person. Pretending that it's all cool is passé as our eyes are well trained for the humblebrag. Transparency is something rare and to be admired these days. Be original, be calculatedly sweet and express how nervous you are while holding back tears like a cute little child.
P IS FOR YOUR PERFECT ANGLE
If you already don't know your perfect angle, we don't know what you're doing with your life. Let's give few tips before you start exercising in front of the mirror. The experts point out that the majority of people look best when their face is tilted at a slight angle to the camera, as opposed to straight on. Also, a study shows that your left side is more photogenic. But limiting yourself to your face for the best angle is also quite conservative. Watch Kim Kardashian and learn. Look over the shoulder, have the pseudo-unconscious sexy gaze, puckered lips and for extra points, try to include your A-list booty.
Q IS FOR THE QUIET SELFIE
Back in 2008, Rihanna got a 'Shhh' tattoo and flaunted her creative ink with multiple selfies. In 2009, Lindsay Lohan and Lily Allen allegedly got the same 'Shhh' on their index finger. Since these three It girls, the quiet tattoo has made its way to the creative mainstream. It's quite enigmatic how Rihanna didn't make a scene out of these two copying her idea in the first place – the news channels reported it as copying but we see it as the sincerest form of flattery. But hey, let people mind their own business. Shhh!
R IS FOR THE ROBBERY SELFIE
We're all familiar with this bathroom selfie of the robbers' home-made balaclava with the kitchen knife. These two teenage girls are two cousins from the south of Sweden who decided to get their kicks by stealing and robbing a burger place, and decided that there's nothing wrong with making a picture of the moment thrill supreme. A pre-robbery selfie, where you look like a criminal, screams out for likes. But here's what puzzles us: did they take the selfie to get likes, or did they rob the restaurant to make the perfect selfie?
S IS FOR SHERMAN, CINDY
In the history of art, several artists like Frida Khalo, Van Gogh and Freud used themselves as model. But it's Cindy Sherman's photography that is most relevant to the selfie. The introduction of photography, especially with a small apparat stuck in your hand, changed the dynamics of an artistic auto-portrait and blurred the line between art and vanity. While the artistic auto-portrait intends to reveal something darker that reflects an underlying insecurity, the selfie is all surface: coded as your own personal sales pitch, it screams what you see is what you get.
T IS FOR TEARS
Photographing yourself crying is the rarest of selfies, but it does exist. Why would you do it, though? Posting a picture of yourself crying can attract likes for multiple reasons: you get to have extra attention and affection, people write more comments, and you even get to make artistic pictures. You are the best art director of yourself. The only danger here is that one day you may become The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
U IS FOR UGLIFY YOURSELF
It can be hard to be a pretty girl. Every time you make a selfie, you make your less-pretty friends jealous. But if you can uglify yourself, you prove that you have a decent level of self confidence while getting everyone to laugh with you. When you make an ugly selfie, you emancipate yourself from the how-to-look-good social codes, but within certain limits. These selfies of girls who uglify themselves are often combined with a pre-ugly cute expression on the left, just to make sure you know they really are beautiful and that it's all part of the joke.
V IS FOR THE VACATION SELFIE
If you don't have a selfie from the holidays, it's like you never went, right? Lying on the beach while facing the ocean, your legs are trim from your spring #10K records, sun burning up your tanned skin while the rest of your friends at the office hate you. Yes, you need to document this! On the other hand, you're not the only one who came up with this artistic idea. Even though we laugh at it, every girl recognises something in the hot dog legs Tumblr.
W IS FOR THE WEBCAM
The webcam is one of those doomed technologies close to their expiration date, like the floppy disc or CD. Webcam entered our lives before the smartphone front camera, enabling us to make a snap self-portrait in the digital realm and sharing it without going through a bunch of cables and uploads. What is very specific to the webcam selfies is that they're often made privately, via a desktop computer located in your bedroom. They reveal a very webcam-typical angle of your face, complete with personal information in the background.
X IS FOR XXX-RATED
The naked selfie has been critically interpreted as the rise of narcissism, self-objectification or the pornification of teenage youth. It may all be true, but objectified or not objectified, the XXX-rated selfie is a source of self-empowerment in the vain times we live in. Especially for certain people who've made exercise, sports and living a healthy lifestyle their full-time job and are looking for a certain type of attention. The self-confidence to try to make it to the top ten of #hotgirl is payback for all the time you spent improving your shape.
Y IS FOR THE YOGA SELFIE
Does checking your phone get in the way of your safety, like making a Vine while driving? If that's a yes, in that case you can completely relate to the yoga selfie trend. Whether you're running outside, in a hot bath, on Mount Everest, or in space, a moment for yourself means a moment for a selfie. Especially in these times, where the line between spirituality and distraction has never been so thin.
Z IS FOR ZZZ SELFIES
Caught Me Sleeping, often intentionally misspelled as “Bae Caught Me Slippin”, is a global inside joke involving a sleeping selfie that deliberately shows the mirror in which you took your own photo. It is born as a reaction to leaked real-fake sleeping selfies, and it consitutes such a meta use of the selfie that the motivation and the humor behind it may not be understood by the ones who are not internet-flexible.