An Ode to the Selfie

In opposition to a recently released article claiming the word "selfie" as one of the most annoying words of 2013, I'd like to offer that maybe, in fact, the selfie is not so bad.

The "selfie" is used to describe the self-taken photo, often from a smartphone. Women and men alike adorn their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts with these pictures, sometimes with puckered lips or large smiles. In recent months, the selfie has gotten a bad reputation. President Barack Obama took a joyous selfie during one of the most somber moments of the year at Nelson Mandela's funeral in South Africa. Miley Cyrus' selfies have become trademark, often showing her with her signature pose of tongue-out-of-mouth and scrunched eyebrows. In fact, the selfie has become so widely known that over 31 million photos on Instagram are captioned with the hashtag #selfie. And to further the fact that selfies are not just a trend, the Mars rover is programmed to take pictures of itself on location -- a widespread phenomenon that has reached our beloved space institutions.

But the selfie really isn't that bad. In fact, I believe that it is one of the most important pictures that we can take throughout the year. Let's think about it. Someone takes about 10 selfies each time they do, and they only end up posting one or two of those. They pick the one that they feel makes them look the best. Isn't that beautiful? In that one picture, someone has given him or herself such a confidence boost. Self-image is important. In society today, we are so often consumed with what society tells us is perfect. But maybe, with that one selfie, we feel like we fit that bill. We feel handsome, beautiful, confident, smart, witty, funny, different, interesting, perfect, ecstatic, happy, content. For that one moment, everything bad or terrible that has ever happened to us is erased, because that smile or that pucker is what gives us the determination to love ourselves.

I saw a spoken word poem recently and the young man said:

If I ask you what you love the answers will most likely roll off your tongue. You love to read. You love to write. You love birds, music, tattoos... Your mom, your brother, your sister, your daughter, your best friend, your dog. How long do you think you could go on and on before you said 'I love myself'?

That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. I've struggled with confidence all of my life. I still do. And in no way am I am saying that taking a selfie is a gateway to that confidence. However, the selfie does deserve some credit for allowing individuals to express themselves. Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D., faculty director of the media psychology program at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology agrees, stating, "There are many more photographs available now of real people than models."

Additionally, posting selfies is empowering because it allows the individual to control his/her image online. It is therefore incorrect to label the selfie as annoying, useless, and degrading. It is, in fact, enlightening, empowering, and praise-worthy. This is my ode to the selfie, and may we ring in the new year with plenty more to come!