The Power of the Selfie

Photo : Rachel Mandel

I don’t take selfies often and I share them on social media even less often. With the exceptions of when I studied abroad and the usual post-haircut selfie — because let’s face it, who doesn’t feel fabulous and selfie-worthy after a good hair appointment? — I have never felt confident enough to share many close-ups of my face.

I have always felt somewhat superficial when taking selfies. I have always felt vain for admiring my selfies afterward, and I have always felt self conscious when posting selfies on social media, unless of course I can come up with the perfect self-deprecating or witty caption. To be clear, I’m not self conscious about how many likes or comments I will or won’t get. I’m nervous about what other people will think of me. But, why?

For three weeks I challenged myself, first, to post a selfie every day. That quickly proved to be too great of a challenge, (I didn’t want it to be too obvious to my <300 followers that something was up.) So, I changed the challenge to post a selfie any and every time I thought I looked nice or beautiful or liked my outfit.

My first thought when I began this challenge was “Well, now I need to block *Becky, *Jane, *Kate, *Ben, my brother, and my mom from my Instagram for the next three weeks so that they don’t think I’ve become a superficial self-absorbed brat.” How ridiculous that my own automatic assumption was that everyone else would think I’m vain and narcissistic just for posting a selfie even though I know I never think that about other women who do?

A good friend of mine shares selfies regularly – when she’s made up, when she’s awake in the middle of the night with insomnia, when she’s happy, when she’s sad, and when she’s just bored. No matter the occasion, she always looks beautiful and bold and confident. I never once look at her pictures and think “she’s so vain.” I think, “she’s so fierce and strong and looks amazing all the time.” She doesn’t know this, but I really admire her Insta-presence.

Another challenge to this challenge was coming up with funny or witty captions that didn’t sound like I spent all day brainstorming them. I took selfie below after getting some cavities filled when I was home alone at my parent’s house and SO bored because I couldn’t eat yet. As I began the process of posting to Instagram, my dad arrived home from the grocery store and unloaded the groceries in the kitchen. In doing so, he realized the General Tso’s frozen meal he bought had been recalled. Frustrated, he called the grocery store to ask what he should do. He drove back to the grocery store, presumably to get a refund. Eventually he returned home and I realized that I still hadn’t finished writing the exact same caption I had started a half hour before:


Seriously, I spent no less than a half hour to come up with that lousy caption! Because to say “I just feel pretty tonight” would be too honest and easy and make me sound like I’m obsessed with my ~looks.~ Do people spend that much time coming up with captions all the time? Shit.

So why do I, or any other woman, fear negative judgment for posting selfies? For one, it shouldn’t matter what our peers or followers think, and for another, why would anyone think anything bad about our close-ups? Chances are they are too busy scrolling through their feed and worrying about their own selfie to care about ours.

Simultaneous good hair and good makeup days don’t just happen every day. So I’m going to keep documenting them and sharing them, because why shouldn’t I? Aren’t I allowed to just be honest and say I feel pretty sometimes? Aren’t we all? I think so.


*names changed, obvi.


Annaliese Stockmeier : 90’s Rom-Com Fanatic, Tabata Aficionada, and Chicago Foodie. The next Rick Steves. Please call me Smalls.