If posting selfies is narcissistic, then call me a proud narcissist


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Photo: Getty Images/Julien McRoberts

Another day, another scientific finding trying to keep me from living my life…. A recent study published in The Open Psychology Journal found that folks who take excessive selfies—whatever that means—exhibit an increase in narcissistic tendencies over the course of four months (the study duration). So basically, posting excessive selfies doesn’t mean you’re narcissistic outright, but the act can transform you into narcissist? K.

To be fair, the study is insanely limited in scope: Only 74 people were studied, and they were between 18 and 34 years old (though, also to be fair, this group encompasses a core selfie-taking demo). “Taking our sample as representative of the population, which there is no reason to doubt, this means that about 20 percent of people may be at risk of developing such narcissistic traits associated with their excessive visual social media use,” lead study author Phil Reed, DPhil, tells Science Daily. Well, great.

Adding insult to injury of the apparent high crime of feeling myself, this isn’t even the first time the psychological community tried (and failed!) to extinguish my selfie game’s bright spark. Back in 2015, a Psychology Today article tackled this very thing.

And I understand it, truly I do. We live in a culture where it’s cool to not to care and a social premium is placed on being chill. Something that’s not chill? Posting a photo of yourself when you’re looking amazing and inviting people to comment and like it. Beyond being the opposite of chill, this, my friends, purportedly makes you self-centered—a cardinal sin of peak chillness.

The world is tough enough as it is. So if you’re able to yank yourself out of bed, put a little makeup on (or not), toss on an outfit that helps you feel as great as you are, and stare at yourself in the mirror and appreciate all of that—you deserve to selfie in peace.

But here’s the thing: That’s all BS. I don’t believe posting selfies makes you self-centered at all. I don’t believe that looking in the mirror, liking what you see, and taking a snap to share that you’re living and loving your day is a bad thing. How is it worse than berating your friends into taking an #OOTD pic of you after downing too many bellinis at brunch? (Leave your friends alone and take your own damn picture, Susan. Take a freaking selfie!)

Also, this criticism seems to only fall down on the heads of millennials, who have long been categorized as the most self-centered of all generations. And when was the last time you checked out your grandmother’s Facebook page? If she’s like my grandma, she just discovered the Photobooth app on her MacBook and is taking and posting all kinds of selfies. No one calls grandma a narcissist!

All I’m saying is this: The world is tough enough as it is. So if you’re able to yank yourself out of bed, put a little makeup on (or not), toss on an outfit that helps you feel as great as you are, and stare at yourself in the mirror and appreciate all of that—you deserve to selfie in peace. And if you want to share that selfie with the world, go on with your bad self.

Does that make you a narcissist? Well, I’m no scientist who conducted official tests, so I can’t really say for sure. But seriously, is a narcissist the worst thing in the world to be? (I mean, I wouldn’t want to date one, but I also wouldn’t want to date someone who polices the social habits others employ to make themselves feel awesome.) Now if you’ll excuse me, my eyebrows are looking amazing. I think I need to take a picture.

Narcissistic or not, selfies can awaken a radical sense of self-love. And nude ones can awaken a sense of empowerment.

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