TIME viral

If Disney Characters Instagrammed, They’d Be Guilty of These Selfie Crimes

Artist Simona Bonafini created a series that will rock your childhood

The Little Mermaid always wanted to be a part of our world. And we live in a world of selfies — lots and lots of selfies.

Artist Simona Bonafini created a series titled “Selfie Fables” that imagines what your Instagram feed would look like if it were habituated by your favorite cartoon characters. And while it isn’t as disturbing as other Disney re-interpretations, Hercules and company are guilty of some selfie faux pas:

Shirtless gym selfies. We know this is going straight to Tinder:

Simona Bonafini

Bikini shots. There’s no need for #perfectbody thinspo…

Simona Bonafini

Instilling feelings of FOMO. Maybe your invite to the tea party went into your spam folder?

Simona Bonafini

Nothing is wrong with this selfie. Maleficent owns it:

Simona Bonafini
TIME technology

How the Selfie Stick Is Killing the Selfie

The “selfie stick”—a small, articulated monopod designed for cell phone-wielding photographers—is, by all accounts, more popular than ever. “[Just last month], I’ve seen several around midtown Manhattan, including inside Grand Central Terminal and outside the main branch of the New York Public Library,” says Henry Posner, the director of corporate communications at the popular B&H Photo retail chain.

“The extension handles for smartphones are very popular, deceptively simple, and elegantly designed,” he tells TIME. “And the addition of a remote, whether mechanical or via Bluetooth, makes using one a snap. If you’re old enough to remember the old days of setting a camera on a tripod, setting a self-timer and then sprinting around to get into the group before the picture was taken, you can really appreciate how simple and clever these are.”

For Posner, the selfie stick’s success mirrors GoPro’s popularity among extreme-sports aficionados who regularly film and photograph their performances. However, warns Laurence Allard, a French professor and mobile technology specialist, the very name of the product itself might be self-limiting.

“It’s contradictory,” she says. “The selfie isn’t just a portrait. It has its own codes and rules, and the main one is that a selfie has to have been taken by hand. An authentic selfie should show it was taken with your arm extended—that’s a sort of signature.” And, she explains, the use of a selfie stick removes that particular element from the frame.

The selfie has long had a bad reputation. It’s been demonized and held up as the latest and most egregiously obvious symptom of a narcissistic society. But, argues Allard, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The selfie originates from established self-portrait practices in the history of painting and photography, but also from online practices best represented by the use of profile pictures,” she tells TIME. “It possesses a real genealogy. But it has also found its own autonomy and definition. Today, we’d be mistaken to define the selfie as a narcissist object or simple self-portrait. In my opinion, the selfie is a mobile photographic genre in itself—one that didn’t exist before. It’s deeply linked to mobile photography, a genre that’s not only about the connected image, which is meant for others, but also about expressing your own interior voice.”

looq-sIn fact, says Allard, the selfie is not so much about a person’s view of him- or herself as it is about that person’s particular place in the world. “It’s a portrait created by the self, of the self, within its surrounding environment, with the specific goal of sharing that portrait with friends, family or a larger community online. The selfie doesn’t exactly fit in the history of photography because of its temporality. It’s not necessarily created for historical and memorial purposes; it’s created with the idea of direct communication.”

In essence, it’s more a document of the present, while traditional photography largely relates to the past.

Unfortunately, Allard argues, the selfie continues to be the target of derision, despite its popularity across all generations of cell phone users. “It’s bogged down in this narcissist argument. It’s often confused with profile pictures and with some self-representation practices that we can see on Facebook.” And journalists are partly to blame, she says. “The media tends to highlight online social practices as being the result of narcissistic behaviors, simply because Internet and mobile phones are communication tools open to everyone.” In fact, these new communication tools have helped us, Allard says, because the media have now lost their centuries-old monopoly on not only the creation but the mass distribution of both images and of speech.

“By equating these social practices with narcissism, the media [attempts] to neutralize their social potential.”

And the growing popularity of these selfie sticks, which have become the media’s latest targets of criticism, won’t help in redeeming selfies.


Laurence Allard is a Communication Sciences professor in Paris and Lille, France, and the co-author of the book Mobile Phone and Creation at Armand Colin / Recherches. She’s also the author of the Mobactu blog.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent


MONEY Odd Spending

7 Crazy New Products You Can Buy to Spoil Your Pet

BEETHOVEN'S 2ND, Beethoven and Missy, 1993
Dating services can coordinate matches for you--and your pets. Universal—courtesy Everett Collection

Pet dating services? Dog selfies? "Pre-pups?" The world of pampering pets has hit new heights. Like: outer space. Literally.

In recent years, pet owners have been tempted—perhaps guilted—into treating their beloved dogs and cats to products and services that run the gamut from $350 doggie strollers to pet tattoos, luxury doghouses , and gourmet pet cuisine. And how can anyone forget about the fitness-tracking dog collar and the Grumpy Cat-endorsed line of bottled coffee? (The latter was created for human consumption, natch.)

At some point, it would seem like pet marketers simply must run out of every dog-gone idea under the sun. But based on American pet spending—a total of $56 billion last year, and forecasts call for $60 billion in 2014—for entrepreneurial players in the pet economy, the best time to roll out new pet-related products and services is always right meow. Here, in celebration of National Dog Day on Tuesday, are some of the latest options to trot onto the scene.

Personal Trainers for Dogs
Crain’s New York recently reported on some of the latest ways New Yorkers are giving their dogs the very best, including organic artisanal food and the hiring of specialized dog trainers. Not simply traditional trainers who will do the basics like teach a dog to sit, but ones who will run pooches throughout a calorie-burning workout like personal trainers do with humans. Other trainers give dogs swimming and Frisbee-catching lessons, or teach them tricks like taking their own selfies with an iPad. (Warning: Once your dog knows this one, your iPad will bear traces of a wet nose. But the resulting images are probably worth it.)

In-Home Pet Suites
Home builders such as Standard Pacific Homes now offer optional in-home pet suites as part of new construction designs. “The optional pet suite can be customized with a pet shower and removable shower head, built-in cabinetry and other conveniences,” a brochure for one design in a residential community in southern California explains. Pet suites add an average of $8,000 to a home, but more extravagant ones, with flat-screen TVs and a pet door that opens up to a dog run, can go up to $35,000, the Los Angeles Times noted.

Pet Memorial Space Flights
At long last, you can send your deceased pet’s remains into space thanks to Celestis Pets, “the world’s first pet memorial spaceflight service.” The company, which already offers a similar service for human remains, expanded into the pet market this summer. Services range from the basic “Earth Flight,” in which only a symbolic portion of the pet’s cremated remains are sent skyward before returning to earth, to the top-of-the-line “Voyager,” which for $12,500 takes the remains into the deepest space for eternity.

Pet Dating Services
The Associated Press covered the rise of pet-friendly dating services such as PetsDating.com and YouMustLoveDogsDating.com, where like-minded pet-loving singles are supposed to find matches. Love isn’t necessarily the goal, though; PetsDating, “an online community for pet owners who want their pet to enjoy a long, healthy, and fulfilling life in the company of another pet,” has pets rather than human hookups as the primary focus. People who meet through the site could wind up dating, but they also might simply be looking for doggie play dates or someone (and some dog) to go for a walk in the park with. Yet another service, DateMyPet.com, is indeed all about making love matches—within one’s own species, to clear up any confusion about the name.

Dog Toiletries
Companies like Fort Lauderdale’s Synergy Labs are “tapping into the worldwide trend to humanize pets,” according to the Sun Sentinel. The company sells a kennel’s worth of atypical pet merchandise, including a lineup of Pooch Scents (basically: perfume for dogs, with scents like POSH, Rain Fresh, and STUD), high-end organic shampoos and conditioners, and a forthcoming one-of-a-kind toothbrush “designed with three heads to clean the inside and outside of the mouth and the pet’s face at the same time.”

Pet Annuities
A survey by the Securian Financial Group found that nearly 20% of pet owners have made financial plans for the wellbeing of their pets if the owners pass away. Of those, 13% had bought annuities that named the pet’s caregiver as the beneficiary.

Pet Prenups
The rise of couples battling over custody of their pets when they break up—seen this summer with the split of Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, who wants to get their three dogs in the divorce settlement—has raised the profile of “pre-pups.” Like it sounds, the pre-pup is part of a prenuptial agreement that specifies who gets ownership of a pet in the case of a breakup. More attorneys are specializing in pet issues including custody disputes, and apparently there’s quite a need. Data cited by the Daily Mail indicates that one-fifth of separating couples with pets said figuring out who gets the dog was just as stressful as determining who would get custody of the children. Yahoo News reported that without a pet prenup, pets tend to be viewed in the eyes of the court as furniture or any other possession owned by the couple, and bidding wars often determine which party ultimately gets to keep the pooch.

TIME selfies

Our Bodies, Our Selfies: The Feminist Photo Revolution

The Taxonomy of a Feminist Selfie
Illustration by Anna Sudit for TIME

How young women are turning a symbol of narcissism into a new kind of empowerment

As far as selfies go, the photo of 17-year-old Grammy winner Lorde was a coup. “In bed in paris with my acne cream on,” the singer wrote on Instagram, captioning herself in a black T-shirt and messy bun, white splotches visible on her face.

Twenty-four hours and 95,000 Likes later, fans couldn’t stop gushing. “Lorde’s No-Makeup, Acne-Cream Selfie Only Further Proves Her Awesomeness,” the Huffington Post declared. “RESPECT” and “Love u,” commenters screamed. “Finally a celeb who doesn’t have seemingly flawless skin.”

The scene was utterly ordinary — the way most teen girls go to bed each night — which was precisely what made it so out of the ordinary. How often do you see a celebrity looking like a regular awkward teen? (Answer: almost never.)

Over the past year, the selfie has pushed its way into our collective consciousness like a pop song you can’t get out of your head. It was Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year. It has spawned think pieces about think pieces. It will earn you nine points in Scrabble.

Yet when it comes to selfies and girls, much of the conversation has been judgey: selfies are narcissistic, humble-braggy, slutty, too sexy, a “cry for help,” or yet another way for girls’ to judge each other (or seek validation for their looks).

But the Lorde acne-cream selfie is just a tiny example of the ways young women like her — and even, yes, some socially conscious celebs — are using the self-portrait to turn that narcissism notion on its head. In small pockets all over the Internet, women are celebrating their flaws. They’re making silly faces (ugly selfies!) and experimenting with identities. They’re owning their imperfections (whether it be full hair or wrinkles or — dare we say it — fat) and contradicting old stereotypes (for instance, that “#FeministsAreUgly,” as a new Twitter campaign has it). In a culture that places immeasurable value on a woman’s beauty, women are using selfies to show what women really look like — no makeup, acne cream and all.

I’ve spent a good portion of the last year looking at the ways that imagery can impact our perception of women, and how we can overturn sexist tropes through mass media. But the selfie is doing the same thing through mass culture. Here are nine ways the selfie is empowering women.

Selfies Push Back Against Traditional Beauty Norms
Self-portraits have been an outlet for feminist expression, and subversion, for a long time. But when it comes to modern-day beauty representations, what we see daily is often a familiar spectrum of vanilla: white, gaunt, emotionless and airbrushed beyond recognition. Selfies are pushing back against that beauty ideal, through thousands of images of “real” women that they’ve created and shared themselves. “Selfies open up deep issues about who controls the image of women,” says Peggy Phelan, an art and English professor at Stanford University and the author of a recent essay about feminist selfies. “Selfies make possible a vast array of gazes that simply were not seen before.”

Selfies Take Advantage of a Platform That Girls Rule
It should be no surprise that, according to a recent survey by Dove, 63% of women believe social media — not print, film or music — is having the most pivotal impact on today’s definition of beauty. That’s because it’s a world where girls rule. Teens and young women use social media often and in more ways than men on almost every site, from Facebook to Instagram to Tumblr.

Selfies Allow Women to Own Their Flaws
Whether it’s Nicki Minaj sans makeup; the model Cara Delevingne modeling the grotesque; or Tavi Gevinson, the teen creator of Rookie magazine, noting the giant pimple on the “Upper West Side of my face,” there is something powerful in seeing normally flawless celebrities with actual flaws. On Twitter and Tumblr, the #FeministSelfie hashtag reveals an epic stream of women in all shapes and sizes, engaged in all sorts of activities, while #365FeministSelfie project — started by an administrator at the University of Illinois at Chicago — encourages women to take a snapshot of themselves each day for a year, no matter how they look. “We spend so much time trying to hide our flaws because the culture has set it up that you have to be ashamed if you’re not perfect,” Cynthia Wade, a filmmaker and creator of the short film Selfie told me recently, for an article about ugly selfies in the New York Times. “I think girls are tired of it.”

Selfies Give Girls Control
For centuries, we’ve watched as changing standards of beauty have shaped us: it was men, not women, controlling the photos. But selfies put the power in girls’ hands. “It allows you to have complete control over one moment in time,” 15-year-old Harper Glantz, one of the subjects of the film Selfie, told me a few months back. “In school, me and other girls sort of feel smothered just by social pressures that are hard to even detect sometimes. I think what a selfie does is that it really allows you to express yourself in a way that you feel comfortable with.”

Selfies Showcase Faces Not Normally on Display
“A huge swath of women and girls don’t see themselves portrayed in mainstream media,” explains Jennifer Pozner, a media critic and the founder of Women in Media and News, which aims to amplify female voices. And yet, through the sheer number of selfies uploaded daily — selfies that showcase women in all forms — women are upending notions about whose faces are beautiful, or mainstream, enough to be seen. “They’re breaking through the media gatekeepers,” says Pozner. “And they’re saying, ‘I’m great the way I am.’”

Selfies Are a Form of Social Currency
James Franco’s recent ridiculousness aside, the actor made a good point when he wrote, in an op-ed in the New York Times, that “attention is power.” “In a visual culture,” he said, “the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing. In our age of social media, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, ‘Hello, this is me.’”

Selfies Challenge the Notion That You Need a Reason to Be Seen
Narcissus may have drowned because he was too enchanted with his own reflection, but selfies challenge the idea that girls can’t revel in their own reflection — or feel good about a photo of themselves. “Selfies are one way for a female to make space for herself in the world: to say ‘I’m here, this is what I actually look like, my story counts, too,'” says Pamela Grossman, the director of visual trends at Getty Images, and my co-curator on a feminist photo-curation project. “They allow girls to shine on their own terms.”

Selfies Aren’t Just About What You Look Like, They’re About What You’re Doing
Whether it’s solving a math equation or crossing a marathon finish line.

Selfies Force Us to See Ourselves
To celebrate what we look like — flaws and all.

Bennett is a contributing columnist at TIME.com covering the intersection of gender, sexuality, business and pop culture. A former Newsweek senior writer and executive editor of Tumblr, she is a contributing editor for Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s foundation, Lean In, where she curates the Lean In Collection with Getty Images. You can follow her @jess7bennett.

TIME Food & Drink

You Can Finally Start That Shrine to Yourself With This Selfie Toaster

Vermont Novelty Toaster

Eat Instagram for breakfast

For further evidence that selfie culture is turning from a form of self-expression into pure kitsch, we offer up the Vermont Novelty Toaster Corporation’s new selfie toaster. For only $75, you, too, can put your face on a piece of bread and then eat it for breakfast in the morning. It only takes a week to deliver!

“Yes, you don’t have to be famous or Jesus to have your face on toast,” company president Galen Dively says in the device’s press release. But you do have to pretty narcissistic to buy a toaster for the sole purpose of making your face appear more places!

It’s one thing to take a photo of yourself and Snapchat it to a friend in an earnest attempt at communicating something; it’s entirely another to stamp that face all over the world around you, turning your kitchen into a nightmarish temple to yourself.

With the help of CNC technology, making a custom-design toaster is cheaper than ever, so you can buy a toaster that prints just about anything, according to the company. They even take Bitcoins. Duh.

TIME movies

VIDEO: Space Aliens Meet iPhones in an Exclusive Clip from Earth to Echo

Unlike E.T., today's aliens want to use the phone to do something other than call home

The idea that aliens might choose to communicate with Earthlings via our technology is far from a new one. It’s in movies from Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Contact, and — sort of — in real life, as the choice to send vinyl records on the Voyager space explorer shows. But none of the people involved in those stories had something that almost everyone has today: a cell phone.

The upcoming movie Earth to Echo, out July 2, changes that. A bit of family-friendly sci-fi in the E.T. vein, it’s about a group of friends who — after receiving strange cell phone messages — suspect that something fishy is going on in their neighborhood, right before the area is to be bulldozed for a highway construction project. And, as the exclusive sneak peek above shows, the kids at the center of the story are more than proficient when it comes to their phones.

The phones are also how first contact takes place—as seen in a second clip, below—and how some of the movie’s scenes are presented, mixing a found-footage style with the first-person GoPro aesthetic.

The idea that cell phones would ruin the plots of older movies isn’t a new one — for example, the entire plot of Home Alone could have been avoided if Kevin could call his folks at the airport — but not everything is messed up by constant communication. As Earth to Echo shows, sometimes the cell phone is the plot.

TIME

National Geographic’s New Ad Campaign Features Animals Taking Selfies 

Growl for the camera! 

Cat posed by their owners to look like they’re taking selfies might already be a meme, but what about the rest of the animal kingdom? Shouldn’t pandas, gorillas, and kangaroos also get a chance to take selfies? That’s exactly what National Geographic’s latest advertising campaign imagines. And if we had to judge, they’re a lot cuter than the cat shots.

“There are lots of terrible animal pictures out there,” the ads read. “The best nature images are here.” National Geographic might have a monopoly on sprawling nature panoramas filled with herds of elephants, but their selfies are also fun. A gorilla poses, Kardashian-like, in front of a bathroom mirror. A panda goes for the reflective wall of an elevator. A koala prefers the bedroom as a backdrop.

The campaign’s art director Silvio Medeiros told DesignBoom that the message is tahat even with Instagram, great photos can still be taken. “Now that anybody has access to mobile phones with good cameras, we can all be photographers.”

Other creatures, including a polar bear and a raccoon, can be found on Instagram, the selfie’s natural home. The rest of us should start taking strategy notes—these are totally getting tons of likes.

TIME celebrity

Here’s Ai Weiwei’s Selfie with Martha Stewart

The domestic arts diva met up with the artist, political activist and prolific selfie snapper during her recent trip to China

A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

What do Martha Stewart and Elton John have in common? They’ve both taken selfies with Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, Shanghaiist notes.

Stewart traveled to China this weekend to take part in a women’s empowerment conference where she encouraged women to bake at home, Wall Street Journal reports. “I don’t see why China, with its huge population, wouldn’t have people who enjoy a cupcake,” she said during her third-ever visit to the country, where the majority of homes and apartments do not have ovens.

During the trip, she crossed paths with Weiwei, whose Instagram feed makes a strong case for the use of selfies as an art form.

[Shanghaiist]

TIME selfies

Woman Gets Plastic Surgery So She Can Look Better in Selfies

Selfie-harm?

Triana Lavey, a talent manager in Los Angeles, used filters to make her selfies look perfect. But she was tired of having to use filters at all and decided to step up her selfie game by getting plastic surgery. She “didn’t like the face staring back at her in Skype chats or on Facebook,” she told ABC News.

After undergoing surgery that included additions to her cheekbones and chin (which Lavey considered a particular problem) as well as a nose job and fat grafts, she was happy with the results. Laney then uttered the slightly dystopic line that should make us pause and consider what selfies are actually doing to us: “I feel like I look like myself, but Photoshopped,” she said.

Lavey is motivated by business concerns—Botox is a job expense. “Your selfie is your headshot,” she argues. “Your social media presence is just as important as your real-life presence.” Sure, models and celebrities have altered their bodies for a century to look good for their audiences, but now we’re making those alterations for images that we take of our own volition.

No one is forced to take selfies, but the preponderance of selfie culture inspires a heightened self-consciousness of our personal images online. Lavey was worried about how her face looked in Instagram and Facebook photos, so she changed it. The motivation is logical, to an extent, but it’s worth questioning why she had that thought in the first place.

It might be because with social media, we have all become celebrities with audiences we have to placate, snapping more selfies and sending more updates. As Lavey’s case shows, selfies aren’t so much about ourselves, but other people.

TIME

See Every #Selfie Posted on Instagram in Real Time 

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Getty Images

Feed your selfie habit

Judging selfies has become something of a habit for Internet users. Who does it better, Kim or Taylor? Even devoted selfie fans, however, will be overwhelmed by Selfeed, a website that shows every selfie posted on Instagram with the #selfie hashtag in real time.

Created by artists Tyler Madsen, Erik Carter, and Jillian Mayer, the site presents an endless deluge of self-portraits, each one on the screen for less than a second. Certain trends emerge: a downward angle, pursed lips. But more than anything, Selfeed is a pure flood of humanity.

“We created it because we wanted it to exist,” the artists told us. “We enjoy the constant flow of selfies and find it incredibly hypnotic and fascinating.” The site is “supposed to exist neutrally,” they explain. A hot-or-not, selfie-rating version would no doubt be popular, but Selfeed is about inspiration. It creates a kind of communal global, selfie that goes beyond any one person.

“Most of the selfies that are aggregated are self-portraits with one singular figure,” the artists say. “On Selfeed, these figures exist alone, but together.” What better way to connect with the world than taking a selfie and joining the feed?

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