The ‘Selfie’ or Self-Portrait

Definition of the word “selfie”

“A photograph taken with a smartphone or other digital camera by a person who is also in the photograph, especially for posting on a social media website (such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram)”

“The selfie is an opportunity to:

  • Explore Empowerment
  • Rethink Feminism
  • To debate the pros and cons of turning ourselves into a brand (BCM310 Lecture, 8th March 2017)

“The selfie is a way of speaking and an object to which actors and non-actors respond.” (Theresa Banft)

The word “selfie” was invented by an Australian University student called “Hopey” in November 2013 at a 21st birthday party. Incase you didn’t know the world selfie, is short for self-portrait.

We live in the digital age, where technology is taking over society. Most people are now aware of the selfie, and are the most common way of taking pictures in these times. It is used more often than you think.

“Selfies are usually casual, improvised, fast; their primary purpose is to be seen here, now, by other people, most of them unknown, in social networks” (Jerry Saltz, 2014)

Many celebrities have attracted followers, for particular selfies, and some have been quite controversial.

South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL Player, George Burgess taking a controversial nude selfie in January 2014.  They went viral on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Th
Here is an example of what can happen if you do take a selfie, but it is taken the wrong way.

South Sydney Rabbitohs prop George Burgess, younger brother of English superstar, Sam, as well as Luke and Thomas Burgess (George’s twin). This was taken back in 2014, before the start of the season, and earned mixed reviews from people.

Burgess was fined $10,000 for the incident and suspended for two NRL games to coincide with his punishment. Being  a celebrity himself, and an professional athlete, this only brought more headlines to himself and his family.

obama selfie
Former US President, Barack Obama, with wife Michelle Obama, Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the Nelson Mandela Memorial Service in 2013. It goes to show that the selfie is known by many people, includng the most powerful and influential people in the world.

One of the most popular reality stars, and also part of the show Keeping Up with the Kardashians (along with mother Kris, and sisters Khloe, Kourtney, Kendall and Kylie), Kim Kardashian-West was at the centre of contoversy following a selfie she took that made headlines all over the world.

kk selfie
Kim Kardashian-West’s infamous blonde nude selfie in 2016.

Kardashian-West said of her infamous selfie, “When you’re like, I have nothing to wear LOL.”

It was so popular, that in fact it was made into a mural in the Melbourne suburb of Cremorne, just a week after Kardashian-West posted the nude selfie.

kk mural
The mural of the Kim Kardashian-West selfie in Cremorne, Melbourne.

.According to Dr Karl, the first photographic ‘selfie’ was taken in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, in Philadelphia, who was an alchemist and a photographer.  That is much different though, to the selfies of today’s society.


The selfie above, at the top of the post, is one of the best known selfies of all time, at the Oscars, in February 2014.  In the photo was some of the greatest actors of this era, including Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Kevin Spacey, Jared Leto and Julia Roberts.

Another platform that has a lot to do with selfies. ‘Selfiecity’ investigates the style of the self-portrait or otherwise known as ‘selfie’ in five cities across the world. It investigates using a mix of theoretic, artistic and quantitative methods.

The five cities are:

  1. Bangkok, Thailand
  2. Berlin, Germany
  3. Moscow, Russia
  4. New York, USA
  5. Sao Paulo, Brazil


The #selfie song, is produced by American DJ couple, the Chainsmokers. It was produced in January 2014. The Chainsmokers, Drew Taggart and Alex Pall, knew that the word selfie was fast becoming a trend, and they wanted to take advantage of it, so they made a song out of it.

This is what they said in an interview with the Phoenix New Times;

“Honestly #selfie is kind of a phenomenon for us. We made it and thought it was funny, and put it out as an edit. Then Dim Mak (Record Company) wanted to buy it, and they bought it from us and put it out officially and we made a video for it. This was all just because we thought it was fun. And then the song just kind of took on a life of its own. Which is honestly really great because it’s brought in a new audience of people that listen to music that we’ve made that we’re more passionate about.”

The selfie, while only a few years old, is quite a popular trend, and you can guarantee that there will be something similar to the selfie that will become a trend or whatever you want to call it in many years to come.


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