Latest News:  

English>>China Society

Why are we obsessed with selfies?

(Global Times)

13:18, July 10, 2013

When my sister and I were dining out the other day, she kept refreshing her Weibo and WeChat every five minutes. The young girl, wearing black eyeliner and light foundation, couldn't wait to see her friends' comments on her latest selfie, the one which shows off her trimmed bangs and a hint of a smile.

Soon, she got several replies. "Your skin is crystal clear." "I like your necklace."

My sister, who just started her first job, appeared satisfied. She showed me her new smartphone, the one that Web users have dubbed the "God device for self-photographing." The made-in-China smartphone stands out with its 8-megapixel front-facing camera and the automatic "face beautifying" function. Users can preview the embellished image before snapping - no need to bother other photo-editing apps.

Steve Jobs probably never foresaw the trend that his iPhone would be challenged in the Chinese market by domestic-made smartphones boasting high-quality selfies. Companies including Meitu Corporation, with its popular photo-beautifying app Meitu Xiuxiu, software maker Camera 360 and mobile phone maker Oppo have launched their latest products this summer in a war to capture a very specific niche market: China's young consumers, born in the 1990s, who are obsessed with sharing pictures of themselves over social media.

Unlike Western women who prefer natural beauty, young women in East Asia are dying to achieve the perfect look in photos. We use picture-enhancing gadgets to whiten our skin, to airbrush spots on our faces and to highlight our eyes. We transform ourselves from ordinary girls into charming princesses.

Watching my sister, I was reminded of the excitement I felt back in 2008 when I bought my first self-portrait camera, which cost half of my monthly salary. The camera, produced by Japanese manufacturer Casio, was equipped with a viewfinder that could rotate 180 degrees.

It was a time when MSN Spaces and blogs prevailed. For me and my girlfriends, choosing the prettiest photo for our profile was key, and the most trustworthy and skilled photographer was always ourselves. In our own rooms, we practiced finding the best angles and poses. We could be cute, sentimental, sexy or crazy.

Different from older generations who valued collectivism, the 1980s and 1990s generations have grown up in a digital era strongly influenced by the individualism of Western culture. We regard people who dare to challenge institutions as heroes. We believe that before loving others we should learn to love ourselves. We are narcissists.

The social networking websites are ideal platforms for young people to show off different personalities. When our photos attract attention, the sense of superiority grows. It makes us feel like the center of the universe.

However, as we enter adulthood, the narcissism fades. A social psychology theory says an individual's desire for self-display peaks in adolescence. This is the period when we depart from our parents for the first time. We become independent and start the process of redefining ourselves. That is why we pose for photos as princesses, queens or other celebrities.

As a 30-year-old woman, I am old enough to relinquish the idea of gaining attention by posting selfies. But I won't laugh at my sister. I have sweet memories of the good old days, when I was passionate about taking and sharing selfies, and those narcissistic photos are the honest record of my adolescent dreams.

The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:GaoYinan、Chen Lidan)

Leave your comment0 comments

  1. Name


Selections for you

  1. Chinese,Russian naval forces leave for drill

  2. China-Russia joint drill enters 2nd day

  3. Iranian female ninjas show combat skills

  4. Children's hospital full of patients

  5. Pushy parents turn matchmaking events

  6. China's weekly story

  7. Egrets enjoy life in forest

  8. Cute cats vs stylish women

  9. Born to lead: 2nd gen of Chinese tycoons

  10. China's inflation grows 2.7% in June

Most Popular


  1. China didn't cause German solar firms' bankruptcy
  2. China, U.S. discuss cyber security
  3. Why are we obsessed with selfies?
  4. Israel keen on luring Chinese tourists
  5. 'Bernanke shock' necessary
  6. Safety first for baby formula
  7. Defense paper shows Tokyo's hysteria
  8. Shanghai investor sentiment drops
  9. Graduates need more help to start business
  10. CPC is thriving

What’s happening in China

Wild Siberian tiger kills cattle in NE China

  1. Buddhist life attractive to people under stress
  2. Newborns' weight leads caesarian births rise
  3. New system adopted for fairer access to organs
  4. Hospitals to stop taking cut of drug sales
  5. Jobs as chengguan hold allure in Beijing