The Science Behind Why We're So Darn Obsessed with Selfies

A psychotherapist explains the meanings behind celebs' risqu photos and why so many "regular people" are obsessed with selfies

Over the last 24 hours, Khloe Kardashian and Nicki Minaj have posted provocative, semi-nude topless shots of themselves on social media. While Khloe giggled as her makeup artist rubbed lotion all over her upper bare body in her first Vine video, Nicki posed for a number of mid-shower selfies. (Actually, she’s hands-free in a few of them, which makes me assume someone was in the shower with her.)

No, we haven’t been living in a cave. Sexy celeb pics and selfies, in general, are nothing new, especially when celebrities are concerned (as Ellen & company proved to us during Sunday night’s Oscars). But we just have to ask — what is this really all about? “It’s about getting attention and being a conversation piece,” states Stacy Kaiser, licensed psychotherapist and author of How to be a Grown Up. “It’s a quick, easy and free way to get yourself in the media.”

In Khloe’s case, Kaiser feels the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Odom is trying to play up her funness. “Many celebrities will do this when there’s been bad stuff going on or bad press about them,” she explains. “They’ll post a topless selfie or a selfie in a bikini as a way of saying, ‘I’m fine, I’m happy, I’m carefree.’”

And other celebs, like Nicki, may do it because the media hasn’t been focused on them. “Nobody has talked about Nicki Minaj lately, but today she’s in the news,” says Kaiser.

So what does it mean when the non-Hollywood types share their arm-length photos and videos on Twitter, Instagram, etc.? “At its root, it’s attention-seeking,” states Kaiser. “The sentence that pops in my head is, ‘Look at me!’ They’re looking for compliments, recognition and acknowledgement.”

Kaiser also believes the general public posts selfies because they’re following in the footsteps of the rich and famous. “It’s a way of saying, ‘I’m special, too. If the celebrities can do it, then so can I!’ The bottom line — we are living in a visual world and people react to selfies.”

So, say cheese!

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