The selfie phenomenon has skyrocketed around the world in the past couple of years. Everyone from the Pope to the President has jumped on the bandwagon. Technology company Samsung found that selfies make up about 30% of all photographs that people aged 18 to 24 take on their phones. Defined as a photograph that someone’s taken of themselves and uploaded to a social media site, it was named international word of the year in 2013 after being added to Oxford Dictionaries.com in August.
Selfie is one of the top new buzzwords along with the likes of twerk, bitcoin and emoji. The use of the word selfie has reportedly increased by an estimated 17,000% in the past two years and that’s definitely thanks to the help of some selfie-obsessed celebrities. Miley Cyrus, Kylie Jenner, Snoop Dogg and Tyra Banks are some of the celebrities who have posted record numbers of selfies on their social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram. We've also seen selfies from NASA astronauts, prominent politicians, groups of celebrities and religious leaders. Some of these have shot to fame due to their unusual, surprising (or just plain weird) circumstances. We’ve narrowed the most memorable selfies of all time to the top 10. Read on to see these influential pics and how they came about.
Kelly Nash, a TV reporter for FOX Sports, was photo-bombed by a flying baseball as she stood on the sidelines of a Red Sox batting practice at Fenway Park. She was almost hit right in the head by the baseball as she snapped a quick selfie. Even though the ball missed her head and did not cause any damage, the blonde reporter’s dramatic selfie went viral worldwide and she became an overnight celebrity. She posted the selfie on Instragram and commented: “Most dangerous selfie ever. That happened.” She later admitted that she knew it was dangerous to turn away from the practice at the risk of getting hit by a ball, but she was determined to get some selfies to show her family, who are from Massachusetts.
Anyone who can take selfies in outer space really puts the rest of the world to shame. Luca Parmitano, an Italian flight engineer and astronaut, was up at the International Space Station doing a space walk, and decided to capture this selfie. Posting the selfie online, the 36-year-old’s caption was: “This sure beats any “selfie” I’ve done up to now.” He’s not the only astronaut to have gotten on board with this trend. Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide took a quick selfie up in space in November 2013, capturing the earth, the space station and the sun in the image by using the reflection of the visor on his space suit.
At their father’s official inauguration in January 2013, sisters Malia and Sasha Obama were spotted taking this cute selfie together. The Obama girls, aged 15 and 12 respectively, didn't end up posting this photo publicly, but they received lots of attention all the same. Despite being an important day in US history, the girls were probably bored out of their minds – an inauguration can take several hours and includes the parade, official swearing in and speeches. Also at the same event, Malia skilfully photo-bombed a photo of her parents kissing, which was taken by Sasha (with her phone that has a bright green turtle phone case). They were also spotted laughing, dancing, yawning – and at times paying attention too!
With more than 10 million followers on Instagram alone, pop star Beyonce gets tons of attention every time she posts a pic. This selfie from August 2013 showed off her extreme new pixie cut, which shocked fans and followers because since she burst into stardom with her group Destiny’s Child, she’s always had long tresses. The mother of one is known for her extensive collection of wigs and her tendency to have hair extensions. The short pixie crop was most shocking because it was one of the only times we ever got to see her like that. A week later, she stepped out to dine in Miami and had a blonde, shoulder-length bob with a gold headband. She was obviously already bored of the short do.
Although Miley Cyrus will always be more associated with the buzzword “twerk” than “selfie”, there’s no doubt that she’s fully established herself as a selfie queen too. She has taken so many selfies that when you search for them on Google images, they’re categorized into sections such as “mirror selfies” and “Tumblr selfies” and more. This one is her dressed up as rapper Lil Kim in October 2013 for Halloween. In 1999, Lil’ Kim appeared at the MTV Awards wearing a purple outfit, with one breast dangling out for all to see, covered only by a purple pasty. Cyrus was only about six years old when that happened but she rocked that outfit (and the selfie) and didn’t even have her usual tongue-sticking-out pose.
No list of wild celebrity selfies would be complete without at least one from reality TV star Kim Kardashian. Some selfies are best kept private, perhaps to share via Snapchat with the intended recipient and then quickly forgotten. However, this brunette beauty publicly posted this selfie of her post-baby body. She was posing seductively in her own bathroom wearing a skimpy white one-piece bathing suit. Her rapper boyfriend Kanye West got so excited by the pic that he quickly responded to her Instagram post on Twitter, saying: “HEADING HOME NOW”. Since then, the two have also taken a joint bathroom selfie before West’s Miami concert. For this selfie, Kardashian wore a black cut-out dress with no underwear.
This is one of those selfies that doesn’t happen every day – and one that’s not easily topped. A Danish fighter pilot, who is part of the Royal Danish Air Force, took the selfie of himself in 2012 as he launched an AIM-9X missile during a training session. He was in the cockpit, flying an F-16 jet at a speed of hundreds of miles per hour. He took the selfie with the help of technology that allows pilots to operate weapons with head gestures according to The Aviationist.
President of the USA Barack Obama got on board with the trend of selfies by political leaders when he was in South Africa last December for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. He got a shot of himself sitting alongside Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron. The three looked happy to be sharing the occasion yet they received some criticism, which the British Prime Minister laughed off, saying “remember that the television cameras are always on”. The President’s wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, isn’t against the idea of taking the occasional selfie too. In 2013 we saw her take a selfie with pet dog Bo on the White House lawn.
Pope Francis was in what’s believed to be the first ever selfie by a pope, and it went viral throughout the world on Twitter and other social media sites. Also featured in the infamous selfie are three teenagers, one of whom provided the smartphone to take the shot. The teens were among 500 who traveled from the Diocese of Piancenza and Bobbio (outside Milan, Italy) to the Vatican. The 77-year-old Pope told the teenagers who had traveled to the Vatican that they held within themselves the “promise of hope”.
This viral selfie starred Oscars host Ellen De Generes with a group of famous celebrities including Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep, Channing Tatum, Jennifer Lawrence, Jared Leto, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o (and her brother) and Angelina Jolie. De Generes tweeted the photo which was taken by Cooper, captioning it as the “Best photo ever”. She also said on air that she wanted it to become the most retweeted photo ever, and so it was! It quickly became the most retweeted photo ever, reaching almost 2.5 million retweets by March 3 (the morning after the Oscars). It surpassed a record previously held by President Barack Obama when posted a picture after being re-elected to office, reaching over half a million retweets.