Thanksgiving, 2013

Charlie Fish: Selfie Artist

I selfie. A lot. It's as much an exercise in vanity—I am, as you can see, a vain creature—as it is an exploration of a persona.

As a kid, I thought I wanted to be famous. I envisioned myself on covers of magazines, as a male (and very often female) lead in films, or on tour fronting some rock 'n' roll band. Never mind I had no training; I still wanted to inspire in people the same sense of awe that I felt when I would stare at a CD cover for hours, or flip through a magazine to get to a photo spread of my latest icon. 

I've been "selfie-ing" for as long as I can remember. Of course it wasn't called a selfie back then. Back then it was just me trying to emulate my idols by turning the camera on myself. And more often than not, I was sorely disappointed in what I saw. I did not have a model face with symmetrical features. And to be perfectly honest, I struggled with both race and sexuality issues for a long time. I certainly never felt like the camera loved me. I was too Latin, or too effeminate in pictures. Or I was unhappy with my nose, my eyebrows, my crooked lip, my teeth.

But then one day I started to like what I saw in pictures. I guess as you get older, you start to learn to love yourself more. You embrace your flaws. You cut yourself some slack. You give less of a fuck. It doesn't hurt that you pick up some tips and tricks to fool the camera into loving you (see: smizing, squinching). 

Cue the age of the selfie, and the millions of people around the world who turn their cameras and smartphones on themselves.

I don't know why they selfie. My guess is that, as is the case for me, it's an exercise in self-esteem building. Or a desire to have an ongoing visual diary. I only know why I selfie. In addition to the above, it's because when I look at the finished product, for a fantastical instant I'm a different person: something akin to what my childhood self aspired to be, even if it is just make believe.