Where were selfies born? Why was taking pictures of oneself unthinkable 10years ago? Why is it now such a common and standard feature in our society? Why is the ridiculous practice of taking an Instagram pic in a bathroom now acceptable? Although nobody could have predicted that this act of narcissism would be commonplace, the origins of the first selfie date back to over 300 years ago.
We know that for centuries only nobles were immortalized in portraits. Perhaps the first to take a “selfie” in the history of mankind was the great Spanish painter Diego de Velazquez in his famous 1656 portrait entitled “Las Meninas.”
But 300 years later, the pioneer of the selfie arrived. The photographer and digital artist Robert Cornelius has the momentous honor of having taken the first selfie in 1839.
Although very few photographic self-portraits were taken in the following years, the ones that were produced, were particularly artistic. Everything changed when the first cameras appeared on mobile phones.
But of course, at first these were taken in reverse where the user stretched out their arm and hoped they were photographing most of their face. At this stage, selfies were not popular apart from on pages like MySpace, where we could upload profile pictures.
Then the innovations on cellphones began. It was only in 2013, when the term became mainstream. In 2014, the term “duckface” (lips pouted; cheeks sucked in) became commonplace. By last year, the “fish gape” — lips ever so slightly parted, with cheeks sucked in — was the most popular look.
Then came the arrival of the selfie stick. The extendable accessory comes with a variety of mounts, waterproof cases and in some cases a remote shutter. The possibilities are indeed endless.
Now there are all kinds of selfies. Although many have been taken with unfortunate timing, others have become a part of history, like Ellen DeGeneres’ celebrity-packed selfie at the Oscars in 2014. Then again, Barack Obama probably regrets his cozy selfie with Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. His wife, Michelle certainly wasn’t amused. As for the future of the selfie, it’s going to continue to define the so-called “teensies” (2013 -2019) pop culture whether we like it or not.