The History Of The Selfie And How It May Impact Our Futures

by Marissa Guedes

If you were to search #selfie on Instagram, you would find 254,589,830 posts (a number already far outdated, as it grows by the second).

This worldwide phenomenon is spreading faster than the horrid Bieber fever. The question, however, is, how long will the trend last?

In this day and age, it seems as if people are always trying to bring down their neighbors.

Every time I take a picture when I accidentally left the sound on, I automatically feel as though everyone is judging me.

Especially with selfies, if you post them, you are superficial and if you don't post them, you are insecure. No one wins.

So, what's the point of judging everyone for doing something enjoyable? Does someone else taking a selfie actively harm you?

If your answer is no, stop worrying about whether or not someone posts a selfie or not. Selfies should not be frowned upon or laughed at.

They challenge this nonrealistic image of women and promote self-love.

If we laugh at people taking selfies, we are telling them it is not socially acceptable to love yourself.

In a survey by Dove, 63 percent of women believe social media is having the biggest impact on today’s definition of beauty.

The first recorded selfie was taken by chemist and metallurgist, Robert Cornelius, in 1839.

The first recorded teenage selfie was taken by 13-year-old Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna in 1914.

She wrote to the recipients, “I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hands were trembling.”

Since 2004, selfies have appeared on Flickr, but smartphones (specifically the front facing camera) has led selfies to virality.

Unlike Anastasia Nikolaeva, we no longer have to worry about our trembling hands ruining our pictures, thanks to the advancement in technology.

Some people have raised eyebrows and rolled eyes at this epidemic. They consider selfies to be superficial and attention seeking. In "Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality," Gail Dines said,

"Because of porn culture, women have internalized that image of themselves. They self-objectify, which means they’re actually doing themselves what the male gaze does to them."

This theory tries to explain why female selfies usually contain the pouting mouth and the pressed-together cleavage.

Dines believes women take selfies, not for themselves, but for the attention of men.

I disagree with Dines because I believe selfies are destroying this idea of the male gaze and focusing on how women should be seen — realistically and not idealistically.

Others have applauded the selfie phenomenon and encourage all to take part.

Selfies strongly suggest the world we see through the lenses of social media is more interesting when you add people into the mix.

Wedesire to see ourselves the same way we see others. We want to see ourselves from someone else's perspective, and pictures are one way in which this can be achieved.

Even though selfies have been around for a while, people have been commissioning self-portraits for hundreds of years. Over time, self-portraits have become universal.

They are not just for the aristocrats, as they were back in the 1800s, but for everyone.

The difference between a self-portrait and a selfie, however, is that aristocrats used self-portraits to display their power and general authority.

A selfie, on the other hand, is a sort of visual diary (our little mark in this vast, gigantic world).

There is an immeasurable value on a woman’s beauty; women are using selfies to try to deter from the path of the idealized woman into a more realistic version.

Peggy Phelan, an art and English professor at Stanford University, says,

"Selfies open up deep issues about who controls the image of women. Selfies make possible a vast array of gazes that simply were not seen before."

Before the selfie trend, we mostly saw women from a male’s perspective. We are taught at a young age to be prim and proper, and to act like we have no flaws.

Selfies are actually laughing in that idea’s face, and saying, yes, I know it is a strange concept, but women are humans, too, and we are not here for the male gaze. Cynthia Wade, a filmmaker and creator of a film called "Seflie," says,

"We spend so much time trying to hide our flaws because the culture has set it up that you have to be ashamed if you’re not perfect. I think girls are tired of it."

Selfies encourage and force us to celebrate ourselves — flaws and all.

Some people believe selfies are not expressions of pride, but just calls of affirmation. It seems to these people that someone who posts a selfie is just asking to be called beautiful or stunning.

Upon seeing a selfie, they just assume it is a person just screaming, “TELL ME I’M PRETTY!”

Jezebel's Erin Gloria Ryan says,

"Young women take seflies because they don’t derive their sense of worth from themselves, they rely on others to bestow their self-worth on them- just as they’ve been taught."

Selfies could actually lead to a lower self-esteem in women because we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that the only way to know you are pretty is if other people tell you.

If no one comments or likes a selfie fast enough, it makes you wonder if you were wrong and you actually did not look good in the selfie.

Personally, I think if you look good and you want to show the whole wide world, then you take that selfie. None of us should care how many likes or comments one gets on a post.

We all post selfies because we thought we looked great, and want everyone else to know it. If they don't realize how great you looked, well, who cares?

Social scientists have even discovered that selfies could cause narcissism, addiction, mental illness and even suicide. Danny Bowman attempted suicide after being unable to take the perfect selfie.

He spent at least 10 hours every single day taking selfies. He was diagnosed by Dr. David Veal with body dysmorphic disorder in early 2014.

Dr. David Veal said

"Two out of three of all patients who come to see me with body dysmorphic disorder since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take selfies."

Body dysmorphic disorder is when one can’t stop thinking about this imagined or slight physical defect of one’s body to the point of extreme stress or worse.

Pamela Rutledege wrote in a Psychology Today article, “Selfies can be detrimental to a person’s mental health and that indulging in them is indicative of narcissism, low self-esteem, attention seeking behavior and self-indulgence.”

These cases, however, usually tend to occur with those who already have some sort of underlying mental illness.

There is a fine line between taking selfies for fun and taking them because you desperately need to find that perfect selfie. This type of perfection does not exist because nothing is perfect.

What do selfies say about us? Fifty-two percent of women have taken a selfie, while 50 percent of men have taken a selfie. The #selfie on Instagram has grown 200 percent since early 2013.

Some say selfies are empowering and promote a healthy self-image. They challenge the “Hollywood ideal” of beauty. Christine Love, creator of Interstellar Selfie Station said,

"There’s just so many forces trying to make people (and women especially) feel bad about how they look, and I’m really happy that selfies have become such a huge phenomenon, because it’s serious blowback to that."

Unfortunately, some view it as promoting narcissism. Two thirds of people with body image disorders obsessively take selfies, but this does not necessarily correlate with having the disorder because they take way too many selfies.

But, let us not dwell on the negative because too much of anything is bad for you.

Instead, let’s focus on how selfies have advanced almost every single aspect of our world. Selfies are now being used for fashion, security and even medicine.

It is important to understand that some of the people who do not agree with selfies are the ones who usually hate anything foreign.

They usually prefer the way things were before technology ruined our lives.

Our generation is known for ruining everything because we are so dependent on technology.

Generation-X does not understand that we love technology because we can communicate with anybody in any part of the world in a matter of minutes.

We can communicate through selfies and reconnect with loved ones who are far away.

Do not tell us our love for taking selfies will ruin us because we might just save future generations since we understand that selfies equate to the radical idea of loving yourself.