This is a selfie.

It’s pretty standard—raw, unedited, straight off my iPhone and uploaded to the Internet for all the cyber-universe to see. The image quality is appalling and my expression resembles that of someone with a shovel rammed three quarters of the way up their ass. Still, it’s my face.

There is no way in hell that I would ever look this decent in a candid photo. Like, none. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nein. If you’ve ever browsed through my tagged pictures on Facebook (which I highly advise you don’t), you are most likely under the impression that I’m some sort of rouge scientific experiment escaped from a government containment facility. I mean, I am, but that’s beside the point.

I don’t smile with my teeth because it gives me a double chin. I’m wearing moisturizer, concealer, blush, bronzer, lip gloss, eyeliner and mascara. My head is tilted at just the right angle to maintain the illusion that I am actually somewhat attractive. 

Everything is calculated. Posed. Deliberate. 

Selfies are designed as a means of self-validation. I don’t think that’s news to anyone, but regardless, it needs to be said. Is “selfie culture” disgustingly narcissistic, objectifying, or both? Here’s the thing: it’s neither.

When you post a picture of yourself to Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr, you generally expect a degree of feedback. Your followers dictate your desirability with the tap of a finger. Ten likes, twenty, fifty, one hundred. How many people need to call you beautiful before you start to believe it yourself?

Some people know they’re hot. That’s fine. Magnificent, even. I’m happy for you. But for the rest of us average Joes and Janes, we’ve become masters at faking confidence in a dog-eat-dog world. I don’t think this makes us frauds; it makes us human.

There are some days where I wake up feeling cute. I want to document said cuteness, so obviously my initial response is to snap a photo or twenty in front of my bedroom window where the lighting is most flattering. I literally cannot even begin to describe the treasure trove of lost selfies laying discarded in the depths of my phone.

Does it make me vain that I want people to reassure me that I am capable of being cute? My best friend rolls out of bed in the morning with her big blue eyes and wavy hair and perfect skin, and then there’s me, flopping around in the sheets like a fish out of water before soaking my retainer in denture cleaner. I think we know who wins, here.

The point I’m trying to make is that we’re all allowed to be a little supercilious on occasion. Do your dimples look especially prominent today? Awesome. Is your natural hair cooperating for once? Sweet. Did you just get your braces off? Radical, dude.

Take a selfie. You deserve it. 

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