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It’s hard to write something new about selfies. Everyone knows that the word “selfie” was announced the word of the year for 2013 (by the Oxford Dictionaries). Wikipedia defines “selfie” as “a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services” [1].

The first photographic portrait ever taken is considered by many to be the first “selfie”. It was taken in 1839 by “an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast from Philadelphia named Robert Cornelius” [2]. Another point of view is that “people have taken self-portraits since the 1880s, when camera shutters with self-timers were first available. This increased in 1900 with the debut of the portable Kodak Brownie box” [3]. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the earliest usage of the term – “so far anyway” – was in September 13, 2002 in an ABC Online science forum posting [4,5].

People are taking selfies, trying to find self discovery and self-acceptance, due to boredom or simply for memories. “The abundance of selfies also quite simply allows us to see more images of a far wide range of people” [6].

If you are a nudist and you take a selfie, there’s a high probability that it would be a nude selfie. Many people are outraged by nudity for unknown reasons and, of course, those offended by the sight of naked man or woman cannot “just look away” [7]. There’s a dilemma. On the one hand, you don’t want to harm anybody’s feelings. On the other hand, it seems quite ridiculous to put on clothes just to take a selfie.

The wrong cultural understanding of nudity has a long history. More than 400 years ago, Michel de Montaigne opposed treatment of nudity as something taboo. In his Essays (Book III/Chapter V) he wrote about men’s “natural furniture”

… it were a chaster and more fruitful usage to let them [women] know the fact as it is betimes, than permit them to guess according to the liberty and heat of their own fancy; instead of the real parts they substitute, through hope and desire, others that are three times more extravagant …

and continued

what do we know but that Plato, after other well-instituted republics, ordered that the men and women, old and young, should expose themselves naked to the view of one another, in his gymnastic exercises, upon that very account … [8]

Montaigne argues that “the wearing of clothing for humans is only a custom” [9]. And there is nothing wrong in having different views on customs.

References
1. Selfie – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2. Robert Cornelius’ Self-Portrait The First Ever “Selfie” (1839) | The Public Domain Review
3. Albert Costill, 13 Things You Should Know About the ‘Word of the Year’ – Selfie | Search Engine Journal
4. Australia stand up and take a ‘selfie’
5. This photo, posted on ABC Online, is the world’s first known ‘selfie’ – ABC News
6. Jill Walker Rettberg, Why people say they take selfies | jill/txt
7. Rosie Yates, Why are we so outraged by nudity? – Concrete
8. The Essays of Montaigne by Michel de Montaigne, translated by Charles Cotton
9. Stefanie Hollmichel, Montaigne the Nudist?

Self-portrait 04/01/13 by Vadim aka t-maker | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Nude Selfie. Self-portrait 04/01/13 by Vadim aka t-maker | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

P.S. This selfie is from the set uploaded to Flickr. The images were taken with iPhone using a Hipstamatic app for iOS.

These photos were taken on March 4, 2011 using an Olympus E-30 (1-2) and Sony DSC-TX5 (3), presumably in Mexico.

Mexique 196 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Mexique 196 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Mexique 173 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Mexique 173 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

DSC00198 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

DSC00198 By elienai | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Images: Mexique 196 | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
Mexique 173 | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
DSC00198 | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (under Creative Commons license)

Link:
Flickr: elienai

The first and third photos were taken on February 2, 2011 (Nikon D200 – Noct-nikkor 58/1.2 AIS – 800 ISO). The second photo was taken on February 13, 2011 (Leica M6 – Voigtlander Heliar 15/4.5 Asph – XP2).

DONNA (TUTTO SI FA PER TE) By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

DONNA (TUTTO SI FA PER TE) By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

BARBAR!NA DOUBLE 15 By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

BARBAR!NA DOUBLE 15 By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

ELEGANTE By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

ELEGANTE By Luca Rubbi | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Images: DONNA (TUTTO SI FA PER TE) | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
BARBAR!NA DOUBLE 15 | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
ELEGANTE | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (under Creative Commons license)

Links:
Luca Rubbi Photography
Flickr: Luca Rubbi

Who knows how many wonderful photographs are taken every minute, hour, day, week or month? In substitution for discontinued “Weekend Columns“, I’m starting a new column “Photos taken in…“. I have in mind to pick out a small fraction of photos worth to be seen (from my personal point of view, of course). Let’s start from January.

These photos were taken on January 28, 2011.

Standing Pose By poolski | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Standing Pose By poolski | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Hallway 2 By poolski | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Hallway 2 By poolski | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Images: Standing Pose | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
Hallway 2 | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (under Creative Commons license)

Links: antispin – Kyrill’s Blog
Kyrill’s Blog on Facebook
Flickr: poolski

The following photos were taken on January 5, 2011 (presumably, in Slateford, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK – at least, the seconds one)

2 45 0001 By tobias feltus | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

2 45 0001 By tobias feltus | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Rebekka TXO 1 By tobias feltus | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Rebekka TXO 1 By tobias feltus | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Images: 2 45 0001 | Flickr – Photo Sharing!
Rebekka TXO 1 | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (under Creative Commons license)

Links: Tobias Feltus: Createur d’Images Photographiques
Flickr: tobias feltus
Tobias Feltus on Myspace

Here’s one more true story from Jet, the issue from 1961 (see the previous one here). It is from the criminal column (page 48).

Bandits Flee; Leave 7 Nude Women Behind
It wasn’t a nudist convention, but seven nude women and two naked men were found by police in a Brooklyn corset shop when the ofiicers answered a phone call reporting a holdup. The nude nine explained that the bandits forced them in to a back room and made them undress, then placed their clothes in front of the lighted shop where they would be difficult to retrieve without being seen from the street. The holdup men made off with $1,000 from the purses of the women and pockets of the two husbands who had accompanied their wives to the “corsetorium.”

It wasn’t a nudist convention. Can you imagine that?

Source: Jet, May 25, 1961

Mirante - The Pool's Bar by Paul_and_Laura | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Mirante - The Pool's Bar by Paul_and_Laura | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

The photo is from Paul_and_Laura’s photostream on Flickr and it is available under a Creative Commons license.

In 1870 the English painter John Everett Millais, the future 1st Baronet and President of the Royal Academy, presented a large painting ‘with the almost life size figures‘ at the Royal Academy. The painting The Knight Errant shows a medieval knight ‘freeing a woman who has been stripped and tied to a tree’.

The Knight Errant (1870) by John Everett Millais

The Knight Errant (1870) by John Everett Millais

The tree, a Silver Birch, was commonly identified with the female gender in the nineteenth century and was sometimes referred to as ‘Lady Birch’. Birch twigs were also traditionally used in flagellation. The woman’s clothes lie on the ground to the left and her molesters, assumed to be robbers by one critic, are seen fleeing the scene in the top right corner of the canvas. There is blood on the Knight’s sword and the torso of a dead man is visible behind him. (Rebecca Virag at Tate Collection)

But this painting with such a naive classical content stirred up feelings of dissatisfaction among the public and critics. The artist’s naturalistic approach was recognized as unacceptable. The critics thought the woman was ‘too life-like’, especially in comparison ‘with the continental practice of idealising the nude’. In June 1870, the Art Journal claimed that ‘the manner is almost too real for the treatment of the nude‘.

Sharp criticism made Millais ‘cut out the head and chest of the female figure from his canvas and re-work these parts to show the woman turning modestly away‘. Through X-ray examination of the picture, it is seen that woman’s ‘head and torso were originally turned towards the Knight, establishing eye contact’. The painter didn’t painted nude female figures anymore in his career.

It is remarkable that the original section with woman’s head may be seen on another Millais’ canvas called The Martyr of The Solway.

The Martyr of the Solway (c.1871) by John Everett Millais

The Martyr of the Solway (c.1871) by John Everett Millais

Using these two pictures Martin Beek made the wonderful probable reconstruction of the initial painting.

Knight Errant 1870 by Millais and the Victorian Nude by Martin Beek | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Knight Errant 1870 by Millais and the Victorian Nude by Martin Beek | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Links
1. Tate Collection | The Knight Errant by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
2. Tate Collection | Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
3. File:The Knight Errant 1870.jpg – Wikimedia Commons
4. File:John Everett Millais – The Martyr of the Solway.jpg – Wikimedia Commons
5. John Everett Millais – Wikimedia Commons
6. John Everett Millais – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
7. Knight Errant 1870 by Millais and the Victorian Nude. Millais and Manet. | Flickr – Photo Sharing!