To me, the second best moment of the 2014 Oscars, after Ellen passed out slices of pizza to rows of America’s most beloved movie stars, was when she made a group of them clump together for a group selfie.
It doesn’t matter — young or old — selfies have become an epidemic. A study from a project called Selfiecity, backed by the City University of New York, California Institute of Telecommunication and Information, shows that selfies are more popular with women under 40 and men over 40.
But is there more to the insecurity and narcissism associated with these personal photos that flood our Instagram feeds? As our faces and our bodies and our self-esteem changes, so does what we learn from taking this very up close and personal photos of ourselves.
Here are some valuable self-love takeaways from men and women who love to take selfies.
1. You control what picture you take.
“I hate always having to ask friends or strangers to take photos of me. With a selfie, I can take my photo and capture what I want, when I want it. Plus sometimes it’s straight up awkward to hand your phone to a friend and say, “Hey, can you take a photo of me … by myself?” I’d rather not do that.” —Mitchell Sanders, 28
2. You embrace your tiny flaws.
“If someone was to hijack my phone, they’d see a camera roll of about 1,000 photos — with 40 percent of those just being selfies. No one takes just one photo of themselves at a time. They take multiple using different angles. When doing that, I’ve learned to embrace my imperfections and it helps me see things about my face I would not have known about or appreciated before.” — Jane M., 24
3. You can feel like you’re with someone who’s hundreds of miles away.
“I’m in a long distance relationship and instead of sending a typical good morning or a hello text message, I’ll pair it with a selfie photo and I feel like for a few seconds, my boyfriend can feel as though I’m there with him. Sure, there is Skype and Facetime, but a selfie is something you can save on your phone and view forever.” — Sarah Sidhara, 34
4. You secretly encourage yourself to accept who you are.
“We all take selfies and therefore I think it shows that we all secretly like ourselves — or at least something about ourselves. That’s huge because people walk around ashamed or they lack confidence. The ability to take a selfie and send or post a selfie is a giant step in accepting who we are. I think that’s cool.” — Michael Monroe, 29
5. You can still be proud, even when you don’t look picture-perfect.
“I’ve seen people take selfies in the strangest of places. Mostly at the gym. I find that weird because it’s a place where nobody looks their best. Yet in between sets, people are snapping a photo of themselves.” — Elyse Sansora, 23.