While selfies may have increased in popularity over the last decade, millennials certainly weren’t the first generation to snap photos of themselves.

When Oxford Dictionaries announced “selfie” was selected as the Word of the Year in 2013, efforts were made to track down the word’s origin. According to Slate.com, Oxford identified a 2002 science forum post on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website as the earliest known example of the word’s use.

Evidently, a young Aussie man took a photo of his stitched up lip, an injury he suffered while drunk at a “mate’s 21st” birthday celebration. “Hopey,” aka Nathan Hope, apologized for the photo’s lack of clarity, “And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

Hope denied coining the use of the word, saying it was merely common slang to describe a picture you had taken of yourself. The thing is, self portraits — whether by taking a picture while looking in a mirror or with one’s outstretched arm — have been around for ages. As far back as the early 1900s, the Kodak Brownie Box camera provided opportunities for people to take self-portraitures.

I must say, however, the use of cell phones or digital cameras are much preferable in the art of the selfie.

Back when telephones were attached to walls and a thing called film was widely used, photographers didn’t have the luxury of instantly seeing what they had taken a picture of — thus affording them an opportunity to delete anything they didn’t like. Sometimes a roll of film remained in a camera or sat in a drawer for months before being developed.

Lacking the ability to view photos immediately could prove to be quite embarrassing to people who liked to take photos while also imbibing in too many adult beverages. I know this from experience.

A particular selfie taken in the early- to mid-1990s featured part of my face and more. Let’s just say, it could have qualified for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue … uncovered. The unfortunate thing is, it was taken with a film camera — someone else’s film camera.

By the time Kaci Parker had her film developed I had long-forgotten even taking the photo. If the truth be known, I likely forgot mere moments after snapping the picture.

Although my entire face wasn’t caught on film, her neighbor Suzy Tosten immediately knew it was me. When she told me about it, I was mortified. Being the friend that she was, Suzy said she would get the photo and the negative.

When I got to work the next morning, I went to Suzy’s office to see if she had retrieved the items from Kaci. However, before I could even get the words out of my mouth, I looked down and on her desk in a picture frame was the photo.

While they say a picture’s worth a thousand words, I only needed one … a four-letter one.


Tammy Malgesini is the community editor. Her column, Inside my Shoes, includes general musings about life. Contact her at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.

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