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The Art of the Selfie, and Why Plus-Size Fashionistas Should Embrace Them

Posted by on September 24, 2013

Love it, hate it, selfies have gone legit. In August, the Oxford English Dictionary officially added “selfie” to its virtual pages, along with a variety of other pop-culture-heavy, conversational gems like fauxhawk, jorts, and twerk. According to the good ‘ol Oxford dictionary, selfie is defined as:

• selfie, n. (informal): a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary. 

With all due respect to the ladies and gents running things at Oxford University Press, I’m  a firm believer in daily selfies. While I don’t necessarily feel the need to post pictures of myself everyday on my various social media, I think that taking daily selfies can be helpful, inspirational, and even therapeutic.

Here is a collection of some of my various selfies taken the last couple of months. When I take a selfie, it is often for purely personal use to double check my outfit.

Here is a collection of some of my various selfies taken the last couple of months. When I take a selfie, it is often for purely personal use to double check my outfit.

Sites like Instagram, with their flattering and vaguely artistic filters, encourage selfie culture.  The New York Times even ran an article in September about how Instagram is inspiring the fashion world by serving as an eclectic, virtual look book. According to the article, “In the broadest sense, Instagram functions as a crowd-friendly extension of the traditional trunk show, in which clients could order variations on a design.” Many designers and brands like IGIGI, Michael Kors, Jason Wu and Diane von Furstenberg use Instagram as a way to connect with their fans and allow shoppers to actually inspire their collections through direct comments and occasional contests. Those same designers are not shy about posting their own selfies: last week, Diane von Furstenberg herself posted a selfie lying in bed after a long day at New York Fashion week.

Selfies allow people to connect and inspire, but for me and for many like-minded fashion addicts, selfies are a way to share our design aesthetic and the cool details in our “outfits of the day,” or to use the popular Instagram hashtag, #OotD. They’re also a great way to check your outfit. Have you ever put together an outfit that you thought was perfect and then cringed when you saw the photos appear on Facebook? Selfies are my own personal cure for outfit remorse. By snapping a quick mirror pic, I can see the entirety of my body through another lens, look at how the fabric is laying, and inspect an improvised cuff before going off and facing the day. As a plus-size woman, I frequently find myself improvising looks from various thrifted and altered pieces that I rig up, and selfies give me a way to test these looks and feed my narcissism just a little bit  – and honestly, couldn’t we all use a small ego-boost every now and then?

There is even an argument to be made that selfies might become as popular and as much as a fashion staple as street style photography. Nanette Lepore mentioned in the same New York Times article that her most recent resort collection, which premiered at Fashion Week, was influenced by girls taking selfies on Venice Beach. “‘We were inspired by how these girls just go out in the street and take pictures of themselves,” Lepore said.

Vogue is also jumping on the selfie train. The magazine staff posted this selfie of Anna Wintour reading Vogue on the official Vogue Instagram account as part of a promotion about Vogue’s famed September Issue, encouraging readers and fans to upload their own selfies with the hashtag #voguestagram, to create more commentary and connection.

Unfortunately, there is still a decent amount of criticism when it comes to selfie-culture. Critics claim that the act of taking a selfie is annoying, insecure, and self-obsessed. Yet, I think that there is something inherently brave in posting a selfie. Everyone who views the image can tell that you took the photo and clearly felt comfortable enough to post it online, meaning that you obviously think you look good. What could show more confidence than telling the world that you like how you look and this is how you’re choosing to present yourself? So no more selfie-shaming! Be brave, be confident, be creative, and embrace all of your angles.

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