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Selfies and Self-Ageism

Selfies and Self-Ageism

Taking pictures of yourself goes hand-in-hand with being a style-blogger – even if you hate being photographed, like I did for most decades of my life – and still do. Extreme camera shyness goes hand-in-hand with my extreme every day shyness, and my homely childhood and adolescence. Learning how to present myself, personally and professionally, and even learning to photograph myself in my preloved clothes, never increased my eagerness to get my picture taken. But turning 50 weirdly did increase my fascination with Oxford Dictionaries’ 2013 Word of the Year: selfies.

Who’da thunk getting more wrinkles would pique my interest in taking my own head shot, like almost every day? Maybe if I wanted to go all Photo Shop on myself it would make sense, but as technologically inclined as I can be, my few forays into even Photo Shop for Dummies have made me feel like a single-celled organism. Plus, I hate Photo Shop and air-brushing and all of the techniques that make pictures of people look fake. I want real people, peeps.

But in this, my 50th year, I have suddenly gone off the rails with the selfies. I know what that looks like, since I live with two teenage girls. They are so adorable, youthful and photogenic that I completely get their fixation on taking their own pics anytime and anywhere. Not being so adorable, youthful or photogenic, I was genuinely puzzled when I started snapping my own pic anytime and anywhere.

Self-ageism might be the culprit. I know, other people are supposed to discriminate against you on the basis of your age, not yourself. But I wonder if I try to sink my own ship simply because of a number. 50. Don’t get me wrong. I’m so glad to be alive. I’m even delighted to be mature (mostly), because my immature self never learned anything unless she banged her head against a brick wall repeatedly. Now I’m more likely to lean against the brick wall and hope it’s not crumbling.

I think I’m taking the selfies to try to see myself as others do, and to try to see myself as I really am. When I have moments of uncertainty, thinking I might be too old to start completely new chapters in my life, personally, academically, and professionally, I take my own picture and stare into my own eyes. Do I look strong enough, emotionally and physically, to start over? Am I too old to change? Can I embrace new concepts that may have intimidated me in the past? When I feel self-doubt, am I letting the number 50 get in my way?

Most of the time I tell myself I can do anything. And when I have moments that I think my age might make my goals unrealistic, I take a selfie, or even look at my own blog photos, and think, “That woman is empowered and capable, and who gives a rat’s ass how old she is.”

Even if teenage girls do take way cuter selfies.

Do you take selfies? Why or why not? Did you start a dramatically different chapter in your life in your 40s or older?

22 Responses to Selfies and Self-Ageism

  1. I totally heard about this being the 2013 word of the year and it was weird for me. I have to say, I am not a fan of being photographed either. My husband STILL wants to take my blog photos and I STILL am too self-conscious to let him. Which is weird because when I do take my photos, I post it on the internet for millions to see. But I do hope to get more confident with age. You are beautiful and you should be proud of your selfies! I think aging is beautiful. Youth is awkward. You are amazing and strong.

    • I'm with you, Frannie! When I have a friend or BF offer to take blog pics, I actually clam up a bit in my pics and look kind of awkward. Thank goodness (?) my BF takes terrible pics and doesn't want to do it anyways, haha.

  2. "I think I'm taking the selfies to try to see myself as others do, and to try to see myself as I really am."

    This is wonderful, and part of the reason I've been taking lots of selfies lately. My self-esteem has sort of been down the tubes, and sometimes I try to look for what other people see in me. Keep on takin' 'em, missy.

  3. I take spells. I don't like the way I look since gaining some more weight so I'm likely to limit myself. And you don't look 50. I'd have put you at maybe 42. You are an amazing mother and woman and you look great.

  4. I do NOT take selfies. I'm actually not that big of a fan of my face; not up close. Even on my blog, pretty much the closest the camera gets a half body shot. Ugh, this is sounding like I have low self-esteem. And I really don't. I just prefer all of me, all together. I like how my face looks in relation to my body, but not so much on it's own. Holy crap I sound weird. lol!

  5. Ah, maturity! It really isn't so bad – like you say, we can learn more quickly, and gracefully. When I look at you I see energy and kindness and a 40-ish beauty, as gorgeous as any teenager — but smarter : >

  6. Great post. Very entertaining. You wrote it well. Plus, I relate to a lot of what you say. I'm looking at myself in a very new light and seeing pictures I take of myself helps understand that development.

  7. Aging isn't for wimps, but the alternative isn't so great so where does that leave us? Trying to find peace with ourselves and not waste the time we have left.

    I was much more concerned about the whole aging thing until I got sick this year. Then things changed and that slid to the back burner. Funny how illness can make you focus on what is truly important. Of course I don't need to tell you that.

    Blogging has made me much less camera shy. Now it doesn't even bother me but I still want to be the person editing the photos.

    40 wasn't a big deal for me but now that I'm coming up on 50 soonish I am wondering if that will mess with my head or not. Mostly I don't think about it.

    We are all as capable as we believe ourselves to be. No matter the age. I do understand where you are coming from though. I talk myself out of many things regularly.


  8. Awwww I think you're way beautiful.

    My blog photos are the closest I come to selfies, BUT they have given me years of insight into the mental and physical disconnect I have and helped me work on bridging that perilous gap. I've also been able to pay so much more attention to how I do *actually* look than what I see in my head. It's a very surprising and enlightening thing.

  9. I think your selfies are adorable! I've *never* been comfortable in front of the camera, never. You can see it in my face in most of the pictures that never make it onto the blog. I think it's good to keep it real, wrinkles and age spots and all. Life is beautiful. More life = more beauty. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. 😉

  10. I've been taking pictures of myself since I was a teenager, but I don't count my blog pictures because I use the timer. I guess I am just full of myself, lol. I think you are beautiful, Lynne – like fine wine.

  11. Rock your selfies. Yours is one of the blogs which, when I first discovered it, made me exclaim aloud, "Wow, she's *beautiful*."

    I grew up disgruntled with my face, which the very bad acne problem did not help. Ah, and weight struggles. At some point in my late twenties I started looking at my reflection a lot because I liked it. It was a weird feeling, to get drawn into one's own image. Not narcissistic I think, but rather a feeling of discovery.

    It sounds like you're making a discovery, too (of your awesomeness!)

  12. I don't. Jon takes my photos. I've tried taking my own picture (I can't bring myself to use the "S" word) but my eyes aren't right. I can't look at the camera in the same way as I do the person behind it and I never feel it captures who I am. Does that sound odd? xxx

  13. It's difficult to escape our inner ageist as it is reinforced and institutionalized by our culture. I think that the 40+ blogging community is reversing this barrier to aging. You are a beautiful example of beauty and brilliance at 50. Starting over and reinventing oneself is invigorating at any age. It's exciting to follow your journey!

  14. Great post!! I don't take selfies per se–but since Dec 2011 taking pix of moi for my blog is a HUGE change. I used to be the blur exiting camera left in photos!!

  15. Is there a difference between the "selfie" (yes, the quotation marks are obligatory) and a self-timed shot? I don't have anyone willing to take my blog pics so it's up to me to do them, and to be honest, I prefer it. Although there are shit loads of awful ones which get deleted immediately! It's a really interesting process, I think, taking one's own photos, assessing them, recognising the judgments we make about them, seeing what others see, and being OK with that.
    You're gorgeous, Lynne. Your face radiates kindness, humour, warmth and intelligence. Which is why so many of us love you, and why starting again in a new professional area, with all its personal challenges, will be a great move for you. You will bring so much to your chosen field, and it is never too late to find your rightful place in the world, either personally or professionally.
    I gave up on my profession at 41, when my youngest was born; now, I need to think again about where I could/should be in terms of work. It isn't easy, but yes, starting afresh is possible! xxxx

  16. I think you look great and love your shorter hair. I think you have a beautiful face and gorgeous eyes. I've had times when I have no pictures of myself now there are tons, so weird what blogging does. This blogging time may be interesting to look back on as time goes on. It may seem cool or really strange, who knows.

    blue hue wonderland

  17. Happy 50th! You'll see you will be fine! I love my fifties, it comes with some unpleasantness sometimes, but overall it's real fine! I love myself more than i use to – I always took pics of myself, but i never thought i would take so many hahaha! I take my own pics, i would prefert someone would take them – lots easier and the pics are better when someone takes them –

    I hope your teen will be ok – I read the other posts

    Take care


  18. I will admit to being just as narcissistic as the next girl, and selfies are just an extension of being continually concerned with how we do look, how we could look, and how we want other people to see us. We are also obsessed with documenting our lives, while this technology makes it possible, it also makes us lazy. When is the last time you bothered remembering something, when you could just look it up? Any time a discussion of when a particular event happened, rather than remembering, I go and look for the photos, full of all that wonderful metadata.

    Chic on the Cheap

Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

Meet Lynne:

Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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