The self-portrait is, like, super relevant in today’s culture. With the advent of the “selfie,” people document their physical appearance at the same rate and frequency at which this otter stacks cups.
But, as anyone who has ever taken AP Art History can tell you, self-portraits have been around for centuries.
Ever since the mirror was invented in 1492 (I’m guessing), people have been fascinated by painting themselves. Big time art buffs like myself will undoubtedly be able to identify the artist, movement, and year in which a lot of these iconic portraits were crafted. Because, apparently, that’s important.
For example, here are some of the fan favorites:
But today, we don’t use paint. Because paint is messy. And besides, where are you even going to get paint? A paint store? OK, brah. You go do that.
No, we get the self-portrait fix out of our systems by snapping pictures of ourselves flexing at the gym, procrastinating at work, driving on the highway, pooping, and posing naked, and then we blast out those self-portraits to our friends and family for them to screenshot at their discretion. We live in a beautiful time.
But even in this enlightened age of instant photo-communication, we’re still not completely satisfied. Sometimes taking an actual picture of yourself is just not in the cards. Maybe you’re having a bad hair day. Maybe you’re playing hide-and-seek and don’t want to give away your position. Maybe you don’t look that good naked.
In the Venn diagram of 2017 self-portraiture, Bitmoji falls smack dab in the middle of actual art, and Snapchat.
It’s simple: You download the Bitmoji app, customize your appearance, and send them out to your friends and family when you want to talk but don’t have anything relevant to say. Moms love it!
The real reason why Bitmojis are so popular these days is that you can pick and choose what parts of your appearance to include. Don’t want to acknowledge that you’re going gray? Keep it brown! Insecure about your out-of-fashion lips? Puff em up, baby! Your nose is too big for your liking? Give yourself an immediate rhinoplasty right there on your smartphone device!
True story: When the guys in my “buddies from college” group text were designing our Bitmoji avatars, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US chose the muscular body type.
Sure, make fun of Bitmojis now. Make fun of the self-absorbed, body image-obsessed, screen-addicted nature of the millennial generation. It deserves the criticism. But just acknowledge the Coors Light Cold Hard Fact that in the year 2217, our great-great-great(x 2?) grandchildren will be enrolled in AP Art History, and in all likelihood, these three images will be studied in the same chapter:
By then they’ll be taking space selfies—which is essentially just sending your friends an MRI of your internal organs – and what we’re doing today won’t seem stupid at all.