I’m sure we’re all familiar with the concept of the selfie; in fact, I’m sure there’s someone out there right now taking their 20th selfie.
Let’s be real the first one’s never the best one.
Now I’m sure we all know the basic definition of “selfie”, as it being one of our daily practices, however for a deeper understanding of the concept Senft and Baym (2015) state:
“A selfie is a photographic object that initiates the transmission of human feeling in the form of a relationship (between photographer and photographed, between image and filtering software, between viewer and viewed, between individuals circulating images, between users and social software architectures, etc.)”
The Selfie, often seen as amateur photos taken for online purposes, to be commented on by strangers, has become a cultural phenomenon revolutionising the face of social media. The buzz around the selfies has changed not only the way we communicate but also changed the meaning a portrait can uphold.
The portrait has been around since the 17th Century allowing for discussions to be made behind the meaning of its existence. Portraits have been set as images of self-branding, highlighting class, success, wealth and much more to be known about a singular person.
The only difference now is instead of hanging these pictures up in our living rooms we hang them up virtually online for the world to see, creating a branded self-image.
As a generation maintaining an image or stature online is important for our future endeavours.
Personally, I am not one to take selfies a lot, mostly I feel awkward posing in a crowded place searching for the right angle or lighting. Which is odd considering we’re living in a society where it is so common to see people taking selfies. However, when I do post selfies on my social media they are usually reserved for Instagram and Snapchat and the odd one for Facebook when I’m in direr need of a new profile picture. Although with each of these platforms comes a sense of authenticity within my posts to reflect who I really am as a person.
As Pamela B. Rutledge (2013) emphasises
“Selfies are immediate, personal, and authentic.
Selfies are fun, participatory and transient.
Selfies capture a moment.
Selfies are playful.
Selfies challenge social norms about portraiture and a bunch of other things.”
A journal article written by Ian Goodwin, Christine Griffin, Antonia Lyons, Timothy McCreanor and Helen Moewaka Barnes (2016) although looking into intoxicated selfies on Facebook, they did reflect on the regime of the branded self as a “symptomatic of new forms of online sociality and “required” aspects of identity work which are tied to imperatives for self-promotion in the current conjuncture”. Selfies do more than just showcase someone’s daily activities, but also their personalities and characteristics.
We see celebrities take on this regime as they showcase their brand online; we see this significantly with the Kardashian’s who brand themselves based on economic value and social value.
Kim Kardashian’s famous viral selfie portrays the image of a strong, an independent woman who is embracing her body.
However, the selfie game is playing itself out on social media by creating micro-celebrities or influencers. Independent writer Heather Saul (2016) explains how the term “celebrity” is being redefined and reshaped,
“‘Celebrity’ is diversifying. Where once only film stars, singers or high-end fashion models represented by powerful agencies would fit under this classification, social media influencers are now working their way to the fore. Instead of turning to the pages of magazines, catwalks or films, Generations Y and Z now look to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in search of their idols.”
These are the people who have established their brand on social media to influence other users towards a particular lifestyle. Emily Skye and Kayla Itsines are two examples of social media influencers who have established their brand of fitness on social media.
Based on this they have developed a following based on health and fitness for women, they also use their branding effect through selfies to motivate women and highlight that it’s not all about being skinny or a size zero. Emily in particular highlights how you don’t always have abs or look flexed and lean all the time.
Through these examples, the cultural phenomenon of the selfie is revealed, as being highly relevant to an individual’s brand. Shaping who they are in an authentic manner online for all to see.
Emily Skye’s Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/emilyskyefit/?hl=en
Goodwin, I & Griffi A.L & McCreanor, T & Barnes, H.M 2016, Precarious Popularity: Facebook Drinking Photos, the Attention Economy, and the Regime of the Branded Self, Social Media & Society, vol. 1, no. 2 <http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2056305116628889>
Kayla Itsines’ Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/kayla_itsines/?hl=en
Kim Kardashian’s Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/kimkardashian/?hl=en
Rutledge, P.B 2013, Branding with Selfies, Psychology Today, weblog post, 24 November, viewed 9 March 2017, <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/positively-media/201311/branding-selfies>
Saul, H 2016, Instafamous: Meet the social media influencers redefining celebrity, Independent, weblog post, 27 March, viewed 10 March 2017, <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/instagram-model-natasha-oakley-iskra-lawrence-kayla-itsines-kendall-jenner-jordyn-woods-a6907551.html>
Senft, T.M & Baym, N.K 2015, What does the Selfie Say? Investigating a Global Phenomenon, International Journal of Communication, vol. 9, pp. 1588-1606 <http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/4067/1387>