Next month, I will be giving a TEDx talk at Syracuse University on the Psychology of Selfies. I’m sharing a throwback selfie each Thursday for the next 4 weeks leading up to that talk. Installment #1, my earliest selfie. Taken 20 years ago during freshman year of high school (1994-95), complete with bangs, scrunchie, and double chin.
I may have selfies from middle school, but this is the oldest that I could find. The selfie is often associated with our new media environment, where a camera is always available via smartphone, and the gratification of viewing, editing (including selecting which image and manipulating), and sharing the image is immediate; however, this environment only made the self-portrait easier to create and distribute.
My original selfies, much like Colin Powell’s (whose 60-year-old selfie I have tacked up in my office) were shot on film, and had to be sent away to be developed. Each image was more valuable due to higher cost and lower availability, so I held onto every print, even the ones that were unattractive or unflattering. These pictures were valuable to me. Raised as an only child, I captured my own emotions to share with myself; I would write letters to myself and occasionally send presents to myself from myself. In 2010, I pre-ordered an engraved iPod shuffle with the note, “You’re awesome.” It arrived 2 months later long after I had forgotten about it. Sometimes, I write thank you notes to my prior self for the things that she remembered and documented.
I’m certain that on the day I took this picture, I thought I looked good. I loved those bangs even though I had to blow out my corkscrew curls every morning. It was 1994, and I wanted to look like Alicia Silverstone. I’m sure if I search harder, I can find a selfie with a terrible cameo choker.