To selfie or not to selfie – that really is the question most of us ask ourselves on a weekly basis. Daily, if your smokey eye is looking especially foxy.
And now the selfie is on the curriculum. A college in London, City Lit, is offering a photography course dedicated to ‘The art of self portraiture’, time.com reports. Classes begin this spring and will focus on both theory and practice. Edited pouts are here to stay. Yet, despite the firm establishment of the selfie in modern society it remains a much maligned artform. The all too public refuge of the narcisstic, self-obsessed and superfical, attention-seeking, women with nothing better to do – such are the insults flung at females who dare to self snap. People really hate people who are happy with how they look… Look at the comments beneath any selfie a Kardashian posts. The vitriol is terrifying.
However, attitudes have been changing gradually, and the selfie is now held by some to be an empowering act of self-expression. The adjective feminist would not be misplaced. Last year Lorde posted an image of herself on Instagram, her face dotted with acne. It was an unguarded moment in the life of an internationally scrutinised star, and a message to other teenagers – all those Grammys and I’m still dealing with unruly pores. The No Makeup Selfie trend raised a lot of money for cancer charites. And just this week one Emma Holten posted nearly nude images of herself on the feminist site Hysteria in a bid to combat revenge porn.
In 2011 Holten discovered photos of her aged 17 and 19 had been posted online without her consent. She was harassed and humilated by men she did not know. One message she received asked “Do your parents know that ur a slut?” Holten teamed up with photographer Cecilie Bødker to create a powerful series of images that were not framed througn a male gaze. “I would have to write a new story about my body in order to make it possible to see myself naked and still see myself as human. I decided that a sort of re-humanisation had to happen,“ Holten writes. While not strictly selfies – Bødker and Holten prove how strong a confident and consensual image can be.
The history of art is full of self portraits – Frida Kahlo, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt are famous for theirs. So why can’t we enjoy capturing ourselves, on our own terms, for the sake of posterity, and possibly something else?
Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun