Selfies: Narcissism or Celebration?

the-best-selfies-from-the-first-annual-selfie-olympics-i-cannot-believe-how-far-people-took-i ( (2)

(Dhruv, 2014)

            While America’s best and brightest athletes are beginning to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, an entirely different Olympic Game has been flourishing right here at home: The Selfie Olympics. The Internet exploded with selfies like those pictured above. As funny and ridiculous as these “Olympics” are, they’re just one example of how the selfie has permeated our culture.

According to CNN, “selfie” was even Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year for 2013 (Brumfield, 2013). This seems like solid proof of the selfie being mainstream, so then why do people talk about taking selfies with so much shame? The whole concept has helped feed (and been fed by) the popularity of sites and apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. More than that, other companies like Dove are trying to capitalize on the craze as well.

One of Dove’s newest additions to their “Real Beauty” campaign is a viral video praising selfies as a means of celebrating self-esteem. The basic idea of the video is that selfies literally put the power in the user’s hands, allowing them to emphasize or downplay or celebrate whatever they wish. The woman in the film encourages girls not to hide their flaws in their selfies, but rather, to use their agency as their own photographers to embrace and put their perceived imperfections on display. This seems like a very smart move for Dove. Their video flips the stereotype of selfies as a tool of narcissism and self-indulgence on its head.

(“Selfie,” 2014)

Dove seems to argue that selfies can be a tool for building self-esteem. However, others argue that selfies do just the opposite. Many have suggested that selfies are a sign of low self-esteem and need for approval from others, especially in an age of social networking. Posting selfies to social media sites have become a way to almost quantify how attractive others find you through the number of likes and comments you get. In this concept, a person’s self-image is either given a positive or negative boost from external forces. This does not match Dove’s idea that selfies promote agency and self-esteem.

Personally, I am fairly pro-selfie, but I absolutely think a person can take too many selfies. But on the whole, I don’t think the selfie craze on the Internet will die anytime soon. What about you, do you think selfies a celebration of self-esteem or a reflection of low self-esteem?

Works Cited

Brumfield, B. (2013, November 20). Selfie named word of the year for 2013. Retrieved from

Dhruv, N. (2014, January 4). The 26 best selfies from the first annual selfie olympics. Retrieved from

Selfie [Web]. (2014). Retrieved from

9 thoughts on “Selfies: Narcissism or Celebration?

  1. I find selfies to be fine in moderation. Everyone takes them and posts them no matter their self esteem. The problem is when people start to post them everyday or even multiple times a day, that is when it starts to turn in to narcism. People in our culture are so obsessed with how they look and they want to be reaffirmed that they are attractive to someone out there.


  2. At least among the people I know, people used to only take selfies just to be funny in a pretend-you’re-a-narcissist sort of way. But it’s gotten to a point where people do it in an actual I’m-a-narcissist-way. I’m not familiar with how young girls think about selfies or if taking them acually makes them feel pretty. If it does, then by all means keep taking them, but I don’t want it to get to the point where girls only feel pretty when they have the power of taking the picture themselves.


  3. I’m all for celebrating self-esteem and positive body image, and if selfies make you happy, go for it. I do think people should be aware of how they tend to come across to people-often, my gut reaction towards excessive selfie-taking is negative. It can be viewed as not only vain and shallow, but immature and socially-awkward.


  4. It’s certainly an interesting thought… but I really agree with bsheffield2014. It seems that some people want attention and post them too much. I know many people who fill their instagrams with mannnyy selfies. But it also seems that almost everyone takes selfless… I don’t think it means they are narcissistic…


  5. I agree that selfies are fine in moderation. I do like what Dove has done with the concept of selfies. It is expressive and beautiful if used in the right way. I think a lot of people are embarrassed at the thought of uploading a selfie to social media outlets and worry too much with what other people will think or say or how many likes they will get. Embrace the selfie, but not too much.


    • I agree with this comment – when the issue is comparing taking selfies as a way to measure self-esteem (like the narcissistic example) versus promoting one’s differences (like in the Dove campaign), then the selfie is being used in two very different ways. I wonder, though, if these two different kinds of selfies are really different from each other or if they are deemed different by the way they are interpreted by society.


  6. I don’t mind them. I’ve certainly taken my share. But taking constant selfies always makes me wonder: don’t you have better things to do? Aren’t there more interesting things to take pictures of around you? Selfies show a lack of imagination. But they’re easy, quick, and sometimes self-reassuring.


  7. I had not considered the Dove point of view before reading this article, I had never thought of them as a way to build self esteem by accepting perceived flaws. I’m not saying I don’t occasionally take them, but I think a lot of them do display narcissism and attention seeking. Everything in moderation I suppose.


  8. I think that every now and then a selfie is fine, especially if they’re intended to be funny. But taking a selfie every day in my opinion makes you look like you have a little too much time on your hands….but on the other hand they could be giving you some confidence I guess.


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