It can be as easy as “1-2-3 say cheese!” or as dangerous as falling off a cliff trying to get that perfect snapshot—the pursuit of the best selfie includes everything from finding the right filter to locating exotic landscapes, from knowing your angles to perfecting the art of lighting, and so much more. For better or for worse, people all over the world today are turning the lens back on themselves and telling their stories through the image of their own faces.
Since the term “selfie” was first coined, the envelope has been pushed further and further—and yet selfies are still really only a few years old. This is only the beginning, and things sound like they’re about to get even more interesting. But for now, read on to get a better picture with 41 shameless facts about selfies.
41. Look at ME ME ME
The hope is that selfies show off personality—a window into who you are. But they can also be a serious red flag when they become an addiction for those suffering from body dysmorphic disorder (the irrational belief that some aspect of one’s appearance is severely flawed and needs to be fixed, or at least hidden, at all costs). Selfie-addiction is actually a recognized mental health disorder—one with an frighteningly high suicide rate.
40. Admitting is the First Step
Yes, there is such a thing as a selfie addiction. It’s described as the “obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.” The American Psychiatric Association has it categorized into three easy-to-remember levels: borderline (3 selfies a day), acute (at least 3 selfies a day) and chronic (posting up to 6 or more selfies a day).
39. Not an Addiction… Yet
The average millennial is expected to take 25,700 selfies during the course of their lifetime. That’s almost one a day, every day, for their entire lives.
38. Name That Thing!
Selfies officially became a thing in 2013, when the Oxford Dictionaries declared it the Word of the Year. Typically, there’s debate amongst the plethora of trendy words to choose from. That was not the case in 2013—“selfie” was unanimously agreed upon and expected.
37. Exponential Growth
Also, in 2013 alone, the use of the word “selfie” in the English language increased by a mind-blowing 17,000%.
36. An Italian Oil Painting Selfie
The first recorded selfie dates back to 1524—not digital of course! Titled “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” the Italian renaissance artist Parmigianino used a convex mirror to paint himself, only flipped. Sadly, he hadn’t yet perfected “duck face.”
35. Thank Heavens the Times Have Changed!
In 1893, the first selfie (by today’s standards) was rendered by amateur photographer Robert Cornelius—and it was a difficult process. He started by setting up the camera without a lens cap and then ran into the frame to pose. He sat for 5 minutes, then ran back to his setup and replaced the cap. Unlike today, he likely didn’t take 100 so he could pick out the best one.
34. But First, let Me Take a Selfie!
TIME magazine put together a database of more than 400,000 Instagram photos. Any photo with the tag #selfie that included geographic coordinates was used to distinguish which places on earth were responsible for the most selfie-taking. The winner? Makati City, known as the financial center of the Philippines, is a city in Metro Manila, popular for its skyscrapers and lavish shopping malls. Now it’s also known as the Selfie Capital of the World.
33. Intergalactic Selfies
Everyone loves the opportunity to be able to out-selfie each other, but no one’s got as good a chance as NASA’s astronauts. It was former American astronaut Buzz Aldrin who took the first out-of-this-world selfie in 1966 during the Gemini 12 mission.
32. Women VS. Men, Who Takes More?
Women around the world are into snapping selfies more than men are, however there are geographical differences. In New York, 61.6% of selfies are taken by women. Compare that to Bangkok, where women only account for 55.2% of them. But Moscow is the most disparate selfie city in the world—women take a whopping 82% of selfies in the Russian capital.
31. It’s Gotta be the Rain
The SelfieCity project explores and investigates the way people take selfies in different cities across the world. Using face analysis software, findings showed that compared to New York, Moscow, Berlin, Bangkok and Sao Paulo, London had the smallest proportion of faces exhibiting happy emotions—their average was 0.55 compared to 0.62 in other cities.
30. Brazilian Women Do It Better
The same SelfieCity project found that women in Sao Paulo tilt their heads an average of 16.9 degrees, as opposed to New York ladies who only tilt 7.9 degrees in their pics.
29. Queen of the Selfie-Movement
Selfie trailblazer Kim Kardashian decided to publish a book in 2015, except she didn’t write it—she selfie-d it. All 448 pages are personal selfies of her and her friends and family. Aptly named Selfish, this behind-the-scenes book shows Kardashian’s pics from adolescence to super sexy photo shoots. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller.
28. For the Young Guns
The Millennial generation is taking over the selfie, with the average age of selfie-takers being 23.6, but it’s continuing to fall lower. Preteens will soon be taking over as they continue to jump on the bandwagon.
27. That’s A Lot of Selfies
#selfie remains as the official label and link for people to tag their digital self portraits. The first use of the hashtag goes back to January 16, 2011, in a photo uploaded by Jennifer Lee on Instagram. The number of times the hashtag has been used grows every single minute, but there are easily over 227 million selfies posted on IG using #selfie, and that doesn’t include the people too cool to use hashtags.
26. Objects in Selfies are More Edited Than They Appear
Selfies, supposedly meant to catch the the thrill and the action of the moment, aren’t always an accurate representation of what they portray. In a recent survey, 68% of selfie-takers confessed to editing their photos before putting them online. This is a 20% increase from people who admitted to “photoshopping” their portraits back in 2014, meaning that this could be a reflection of the pressure and competition to appear perfect.
25. Room for Selfies
Social media bombards us with all kinds of images of bits and pieces of people’s lives. While it might seem like selfies take up a disproportionate amount of the stuff we see online, they only account for 4% of all images. The other 96% is a myriad of pets, shoes, feature monuments, family and, of course, food.
24. Results Are In
Mega Korean electronics maker Samsung commissioned a survey amongst young Brits that revealed 30% of all photos taken by 18 to 24-year-olds are selfies.
23. Bye Bye Analogue
Additionally, only 13% of British 18 to 24-year-olds have ever touched an actual, real-life, open and close photo album—two-thirds opt to instead showcase their photos and selfies on smartphones and tablets instead.
22. Groupie Love
Chinese smartphone maker Huawei trademarked the term “groupie” in 2014. The groupie refers to a selfie taken to include a group of people in a panoramic shot. It’s obviously a brand new word that definitely hasn’t also meant something completely different for decades.
21. The Star Studded Selfie
To this day, the selfie, arranged by Ellen DeGeneres at the 86th Academy Awards in 2014, that included Hollywood heavy hitters Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep is the most retweeted Twitter image ever.
20. Good News For Word Lovers
Scrabble players rejoice! As of 2014, the word selfie officially became accepted for use in the much-loved word game.
19. And It’s Only Growing…
Google statistics tell us that, solely on Android devices, there are an astounding 93 million selfies taken everyday. If you do the math, that’s approximately 64,583 photos per minute.
18. A Selfie History
How far back can we trace the term selfie? The earliest usage seems to have appeared in an Australian online forum, written in a comment by Nathan Hope back in 2002:
“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1 cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”
17. Record Breaker
Social media maven Kylie Jenner is at the top of the top when it comes to celebrities with the most selfies on Instagram—she’s got over 450. Runner up is Snoop Dogg, with a mere 270.
16. Save The Selfie For Another Time
Want to run with the bulls in Spain and take a selfie? Think again. The Spanish government has banned such a thing, for fear of tourists being trampled or killed while distracted by the autophotographic act. If anyone wants to try however, the city of Pamplona fining violators up to € 3,000.
15. To Vote And Share…
While some countries say yay and others say nay, there is a divide as to whether or not it’s appropriate to take photos inside voting booths. The Netherlands encourages their citizens to snap and share, calling it a “boothy.” I guess if it gets young people voting, it’s a good thing? #democracy
14. …Or Not To Vote And Share?
South Africa and Belgium are two countries that insist on maintaining strict privacy laws during elections—they don’t condone the “boothy” trend. Anyone who doesn’t obey the no-selfie-in-the-voting-booth law can be fined up to € 5,000 or get 6 months in jail.
13. The Other Part Of The Demographic
On the other hand, some people don’t take a lot of selfies. For many, seeing their own photo isn’t appealing on its own, never mind having to share it with the world. One theory is the mirror factor—a non reversed image of yourself in a photo (as opposed to the reverse image that you see in a mirror) may seem unnatural. A study conducted in 1977 found that people prefer their mirror image as opposed to their real face, while friends prefer the real thing. It just goes to show that people like to stick with what they’re used to.
12. Selfies From Oz With Love
Australia loves their selfies. In fact, they like them more than any other country in the world, followed by the US and Canada.
11. A Day For Shameless Digital Self-Portraits
June 21st is Selfie Day, where people are encouraged to take as many selfies as they can and share their best ones. It’s also the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, so you get as much time as possible to find that perfect lighting.
10. Cheap and Cheerful
In 2014, selfie sticks were the world’s most popular Christmas gift. Huge department stores like Nordstrom had to reorder the item twice before the holiday—they couldn’t keep them on the shelves long enough. But did they laugh and jiggle when you tickled them? Doubt it…
9. You Must Have No Selfie Stick to Ride This Roller Coaster
A selfie stick got stuck in a roller coaster at Disney California Adventure Park. Operators had to stop the ride for an hour as they tried to mitigate the unforeseen circumstances. This prompted their worldwide prohibition—No Disney parks will allow them anymore. So much for the “Happiest Place on Earth.” How can there be happiness without selfies?
8. Say No to the Stick
Hotspot tourist attractions like Beijing’s Palace Museum and the Sistine Chapel in Italy won’t let people bring them in either. Even festivals geared for a younger crowd like Lollapalooza in Chicago and Coachella in California will turn you away if you show up with a stick. That’s right, selfies are now old enough that I can say “You’re going to have to do it the old fashioned way.” God help us…
7. Just Watch the Show Instead
Large event spaces and music venues like O2 Academy Brixton, London’s O2 Arena, and SSE Wembley Arena have also outlawed selfie sticks, alongside tablets and iPads, because they’re considered to be a source of “visual destruction.” Can’t argue that.
6. What a Way to Go
A “selfie death” is when people try to get that picture perfect, gonna-make-everyone-jealous photo of themselves on a slippery glacier, at the edge of a lava pool, in the driver’s seat, etc., and they inevitably end up killing themselves instead of snapping their ideal Insta pic.
5. Selfies and Flying—A Lethal Match
In May 2014, in Colorado, a 29-year old amateur pilot flying a Cessna 150 crashed into a wheat field killing him and his passenger immediately upon impact. A GoPro camera, found the morning after the crash, revealed that the pilot was taking mid-flight selfies, and was known to have engaged in such reckless behavior before.
4. The Golden Rules
Stanford computer scientist Dr. Andrej Karpathy says there is in fact a formula for the perfect selfie. You must:
• Follow the rule of thirds (your face just take up just a third of the photo, rather than just being centered)
• Tilt your face (up for men, down for women)
• Take the photo from a center or top-down angle
• Use a filter
3. Anti-Social Social Media
Ohio State University conducted a study that revealed and confirmed that men who posted more photos of themselves online than others have a higher propensity for narcissism and psychopathy. Their higher than average scores also showed they are more prone to self-objectification. Although the study didn’t include women, researchers suggest the same findings could apply to both genders.
2. Selfie Etiquette
Known as the “Auschwitz Selfie Girl,” American tourist Breanna Mitchell captured a pic of herself smiling in front of the concentration camp and posted it on Twitter. She took the heat for posting her selfie in a very sensitive place, receiving hate retweets for condemning her inappropriate behavior. Time and place, Breanna, time and place.
1. The Head Tilt
An Australian study found that head tilts make both men and women look more attractive—women who tilt their faces forward and men who tilt their faces backwards are seen as better looking—which means more likes on selfies, which means winning at life… right? Right??