Who Invented the Selfie?

The self portrait becomes an online phenomena known as the selfie

Female friends taking selfie portrait
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Selfie is the slang term for self portrait, a photograph you take of yourself, usually taken using a mirror, or with a camera held at arm's length. The selfie has become popular because of digital cameras, the internet, social media websites like Facebook where selfies are uploaded to, and of course because of human beings' endless fascination with their own image.

The word "selfie" was even chosen as the "Word of the Year 2013″ by the Oxford English Dictionary, which has the following entry for the word, "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website".

History of the Self Portrait

In discussing the invention of the first selfie, we have to pay homage to the film camera and the early history of photography. Since the first person to take a self portrait, a photograph of themselves, occurred long before the invention of Facebook and smartphones. Let's take a look at two historical examples of self portraiture.
  1. American photographer, Robert Cornelius, took a self portrait daguerreotype (first practical process of photography) of himself in 1839, also considered one of the earliest photographs of a person. First American Daguerreotype - Robert Cornelius Self-Portrait
  2. In 1914, 13-year-old Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna took a self portrait using a Kodak Brownie box camera (invented in in 1900) and sent the photograph to a friend with the following note, "I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hands were trembling." Making Anastasia possible the first teenager to take a selfie, but not the last.

    So Who Invented the Selfie?

    There a few different claims as to who invented the selfie. Hollywood cameraman, Lester Wisbrod claims he is first person to take celebrity selfies, (a self-taken photo of himself and a celebrity) and has been doing so since 1981.

    Australia also lays claims to inventing the selfie.

    In September 2001, a group of Australians created a website and uploaded the first digital self portraits to the internet. Australia also backs up their claim, by claiming that the first instance of the use of the term "selfie" was made by an anonymous Australian student in 2002.

    Weighing in on the situation, I have to give the prize to the anonymous Australian student as being the inventor of the first selfie, because by the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word, the student uploaded a digital self portrait to the internet and even called the photograph, a "selfie" as described below.

    Who First Coined the Term "Selfie"?

    On 13 September 2002, the first recorded published use of the term "selfie" to describe a self portrait photograph occurred on the Australian internet forum (ABC Online). The anonymous poster wrote the following along with posting a selfie of himself:
    Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped over and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.

    Is Taking Too Many Selfies a Sickness?

    Possible, medical authorities have begun to associate the taking of too many selfies as an unhealthy sign of mental health issues. Take the case of 19-year-old Danny Bowman, who attempted suicide after failing to take what he considered the perfect selfie. Bowman was spending most of his waking hours taking hundreds of selfies everyday, losing weight and dropping out of school in the process. Becoming obsessed with taking selfies is often a sign of body dysmorphic disorder, an anxiety disorder about personal appearance, Danny Bowman was diagnosed with this condition.