The act of taking a selfie, as is inherent in the name, is a documentation of self, an assertion of existence, an announcement that you are unafraid to take up space in the world. To young girls especially, who are socially conditioned to be nice, quiet, and compliant, that’s an important exercise. Saying to yourself, “Damn, I look good today,” and taking a picture to record it is a self-affirming expression of confidence in a world that is constantly barraging us with images of an unattainable standard of beauty. It’s the photographic equivalent of that old life-coach trick where you look into the mirror and tell your reflection you are beautiful. A little cheesy, yes, and 1,123 times less private (depending on your number of social followers), but still true.
The Huffington Post supports its argument that selfies are destroying our relationships with a recent study that found “increased frequency of sharing self-portraits is related to a decrease in intimacy with others” and that sharing “excessive” amounts of photographs makes people less likeable. I think the key word here is “excessive” – of course no one likes the guy uploading 20 near-identical mirror pics every day (or even worse, the guy who uploads a picture of every meal before he eats it). That’s just annoying, and also why the ‘unfollow’ button exists. But the occasional well-timed self snap can be a wonderful thing for a relationship. When my boyfriend sends me an out-of-the-blue picture of himself holding a tiny kitten, it makes my day, and just might become the background on my phone. It’s a way for him to say “thinking of you, and how much you would love this tiny kitten” while also reminding me that he’s even better looking in the right feline company.