Extreme selfies: Is it kosher to post pics of you on yoga, marathons and, heaven help us all, on the Christ the Redeemer statue?

by Charlotte on June 2, 2014 · 14 comments

From playgrounds to red carpets, selfies are everywhere these days. Unfortunately selfie etiquette hasn’t caught up with the trend yet, as evidenced by the student who recently tried to snap a picture of himself in the lap of a priceless 19th century statue — and broke its leg off in pursuit of an “extreme selfie”. I’d define that for you except that it just seems to be “an insane picture with my face in it so people can identify the body/law enforcement can locate me/I win parties”. (Side note: the part that bothered me most about Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons – sequel to The Da Vinci Code- wasn’t all the weird Catholic myths but the fact that all the main characters kept crawling all over famous ancient statues! It was brutal.)

But one moderately cuckoo dude with a Go Cam upped the extreme selfie standard to a new high (literally) with this:


Seriously, my palms are sweating just looking at this picture. The video version kinda made me want to vomit. 

In case you don’t recognize this, never having seen it from the top down before, this guy is on top of the Christ the Redeemer statue that sits over Rio de Janeiro. I made the mistake of watching the panoramic video he took and my hands are still so sweaty they keep slipping off my keyboard. Immediately I had two thoughts: This is a Thing People Do?? I didn’t even know that Jesus was open to tourists. And second, that means someone (most likely more than one someone) had to be up that high to build the dang thing. Seeing as it was built in the 20′s, I’m guessing the workers didn’t take any selfies but man… eek.

Then, in reading about extreme selfies, I came across this Russian free climber (meaning he went up this thing, on the outside, with no ropes or harness) and almost fainted:


This kid sees cool selfie. I see some kid’s mom wetting herself. Even though I grew up rock climbing and even have a picture of me dangling 96 feet in the air, 20 feet from any wall, during a repel, I still can barely look at these. 

It’s not just heights that are extreme though. The most recent controversy accessible to us regular not-crazy people are “extreme yoga selfies”. Celebrities and a slew of super models have been called on the carpet, er, mat, for posting pictures of themselves doing difficult yoga poses in weird places. But the most controversial of the bunch is Hilaria Baldwin (married to Alec, yes he married his yoga teacher). She recently started a #yogapostureoftheday campaign on Instagram where she shows how she works yoga into her daily life.

Some are a little… kooky. I mean, this can’t be comfortable and playing on train tracks is never a good idea (hope her kid wasn’t watching!). But being a girl who has done her fair share of headstands/handstands in bizarre places I certainly can’t point any fingers.


Others are just kind of silly:


Clearly she’s part way into putting together a crib?? I like how she’s holding her foot with one hand and the pliers with the other – regular toe nail clippers not working? Yank yer whole nail out!

But I really like this one:


She got slammed for it being dangerous but at worst she falls like 5 feet. And honestly I think this looks like art. I could see this in a museum somewhere. Or at least a coffee table book. The lines are interesting and there’s a cool contrast between hard and soft.

However, most people are complaining that not only do most extreme yoga selfies show poses that are too advanced/dangerous for most folks (and don’t include a #donttrythisathome) like Naomi Campbell here:


but really they’re bothered by the perceived narcissism and show-off behavior that is so counter to the normal non-competitive yoga vibe. “Is it possible that extreme yoga selfies are a sign of engaging in action for the sake of reward? (Look at me! Look at what I can do!),” writes one yogini who points out that yoga isn’t about getting a great shot, it’s about developing a lifetime practice for internal rewards, not likes on Instagram.

But nowhere is the topic more controversial in fitness circles than with the rising popularity of the “running selfie.”

You may remember the story from last month when Kelly Roberts made headlines when she snapped pictures of herself, along with a “hot guy” surreptitiously included in every frame, at every mile during the New York City half-marathon.


“I didn’t really train for this race because of the crazy winter we had, so live Instagraming was kind of a way to take my mind off the race,” Roberts explained. “And finding cuties/making myself laugh is the best distraction from the cold and exhaustion.”

As a runner myself I can definitely sympathize with needing creative ways to keep your feet moving. (And who doesn’t need more hot guys in their life?) But I’ve also tripped over more than one runner who has stopped suddenly to answer a phone or swerved in front of me while trying to find the perfect song on an iPod. And I’ll admit that the few times I’ve seen someone actually texting or Facebooking from their phone while running, I’ve feared for their safety as much as my own. (Anyone else worry when they see their friends posting status updates on Facebook every mile? I just want to comment POTHOLE!!)

Usually runners wait until after the finish line to snap their sweaty selfie and post it. But as Roberts’ stunt shows, running and tweeting (or Facebooking or Instagramming) is becoming more and more common and has reignited the debate about running while distracted.

Many races ban or strongly discourage all electronics on the course to avoid a pileup, like the one that happened during the 2013 Hong Kong Marathon when selfie-snappers caused “an influx of battered and bruised participants.”

Chris Weiller, vice president of media and public relations for New York Road Runners, the organization that put on the NYC Half that Roberts ran in commented, “First and foremost, the runner experience is really our priority, and safety’s a big part of that. We encourage all our runners to avoid distractions — headphones, mobile devices, those are all on-course distractions. We encourage you to be self-aware, not just for your safety, but for the safety of other runners.”

2013 Ohio State University study found that being distracted on a phone while walking or running caused over 2,000 ER visits in 2011. The researchers noted that the actual rate of injury is likely much higher as most people won’t go to the ER for more minor injuries and added that they expect that number to more than double by next year. It’s also bad for your running form. A 2014 Australian study published in the journal PLoS ONE found that people changed their gait when they were on their phone and it seriously affected their balance.

But official policies and science labs are one thing, bragging rights on Facebook are entirely another. Running a race is a huge accomplishment and part of the fun is getting to tell everyone you did it! I think that phones are here to stay so teaching people proper race etiquette might be more realistic than banning them all together. (I’d also add that while taking pictures of hot guys is funny and I doubt the men minded being called “hot”, it’s probably best to not take pictures of other people unawares. Could you imagine if a guy did this? Everyone would call him out as a creeper.)

Overall I tend to have a “live and let live” attitude about selfies - I’ve taken more than my fair share probably and I think they’re a fun way to express yourself. But I do hope that you find other ways to express yourself than going splat on the pavement. The one part of this trend I really dislike are the “extreme fitness selfies” which are 99% pictures of uber-lean girls in thongs showing their butts. It seems way more porn than fitness and not fun in the “look I did something really hard and cool” way. It also seems like all the “I just worked out” selfies involve a close-up shot of sweaty cleavage and/or running shoes. But hey, I like your shoes.

How do you feel about extreme selfies? Have they gotten out of hand? Have you ever seen someone snapping a selfie in the gym or during a race? Have you ever done it??


 Proof I’m not immune to selfie-taking! This was from our trip this past weekend to Great Sand Dunes National Park. I call this my Ode to Never Tanning. And yes, I’m wearing a high-necked, hooded, long-sleeved, SPF 50+ shirt TO THE BEACH.


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Azusmom June 2, 2014 at 12:30 am

Ah, social media: Continuously creating ways for us to be even more self-involved!
Ihate when people deface works of art in order to post on Facebook (Tumblr, Instagram, whatever). Someone spent a LONG time creating & installing it. Have a little respect!
I also agree that there’s a whole lot of danger here. Posting while running?!?! While asana-ing? That’s just cruisin’ for a bruisin’. Literally.
I don’t mind selfies taken at other times. Especially if there are kids and/or animals involved. (Or Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing U2 at the Oscars, which was AWESOME!) But I do think it’s important NOT to post photos of people you don’t know. That’s just common courtesy.
I took a couple of selfies the other day, after picking up my brand new pair of eyeglasses. And immediately regretted it.
Sometimes ignorance us bliss. :)


Michele June 2, 2014 at 4:01 am

It’s unclear whether your objections are based on safety (valid concern) or the fact that some people might be made (because of their own insecurities) to feel inferior when they see pictures of other people’s accomplishments (TFB). That would be another example of the dumbing-down of society. Many schools here no longer have an honor roll or an awards presentation because it makes the students who do not achieve feel bad. So the way to solve that is to not recognize those who did achieve? Here’s the thing: If someone’s news feed/photos make you feel insecure, that’s a reflection of YOU, not him or her. And you’re always free to unfollow/mute/unfriend/block, whatever.


Naomi/Dragonmamma June 2, 2014 at 5:05 am

Gotta pick nits here: Isn’t a selfie when you yourself are taking a picture with the phone in your hand? If so, then half of these pics are not selfies.


Cbuffy June 2, 2014 at 7:34 am

LOL. Exactly! A selfie is a picture of yourself taken by yourself. Otherwise it’s just a picture somebody took of you. But the beach picture is awful cute!


Laura June 2, 2014 at 7:30 am

I agree with Michele about how it makes people feel. I have no problem with the extreme selfies as long as people aren’t doing dangerous things JUST to take those pictures. (That is, presumably the Russian free climber was going to head to the top of that whether he got a selfie or not.)

That said, I am DEFINITELY guilty of taking photos, tweeting, and texting during a marathon. Since I don’t stop running to do it (I have a camera fast enough to take great pics even while moving), I don’t think it interferes with anyone else on the course. The times when I have actually stopped, I check behind me and pull off to the side when it seems okay to do so. To me that’s no different than those who take walk breaks – many of whom are not as careful about when they slow/stop.


Darwin June 2, 2014 at 7:47 am

The beach is actually one of the BEST places to wear a high-necked, hooded, long-sleeved, SPF 50+ shirt.

Safety first.

A mindset that appears to be absent in many of the above “selfies”.


Respect also appears to be absent.

Also, I remember travelling and taking pictures of PLACES and OTHER PEOPLE. And my thinking was that my family and loved ones already know what I look like, and having me front and center, UP close in the foreground of a picture of Old Faithful, for example, kind of would have defeated the purpose of taking a picture of Old Faithful.

Many of the “selfies” I have seen tend to look like “proof of life” photos that accompany a ransom demand. “He was here and alive at this event at this time.”

I have had pictures taken OF me with other people…

..Nia Peeples…for example.

A few others.

I worked on a project for Disney Channel and one of the producers was Jimmy Osmond, and the two main stars were Shields and Yarnell a mime/robotic/mannequin team who had their own musical/variety show at one time and guested on many others.

I have a picture of myself with Lorene Yarnell. She is holding my hand.

Also got a picture with Robert Shields…


She was on set, in costume, under the lights, there was a break…she looked over at me and smiled at me, and called me “Robert” as in Robert Shields (Robert was smaller than me) then she saw her mistake and told me that I was just as handsome as Robert, hence her confusion, and then she asked me to come over and talk to her.

Which I did.

And while chatting she reached over and held my hand.

And then later she asked someone to take our picture together.

She was in a Princess outfit.

*happy sigh*

My cell phone is a step above rotary-dial.

No camera.

No internet.

I have yet to have an internet emergency.

Thus no “selfies” from me, and so no posting pictures on Facebook. As I am not on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram. Or Pinterest.

Which is all just as well, as I fear I may have misplaced my handsome side…somewhere.


kfg June 2, 2014 at 7:50 am

The statue was a hollow plaster copy, not the priceless original. It was still stupid, of course.
Priceless means “without defined market value,” not “expensive,” “rare,” or “valuable.”
Ergo, “priceless” invariably applies only to unique items.
Which pretty much lets out 19th century cast copies of anything.
The statue will be invisibly repaired.

“She got slammed for it being dangerous . . .”

By people who climb stairs, take showers and drive cars. Welcome to clueless, doublethinking, bubble wrapped Nerf(tm) culture.


Jen June 2, 2014 at 8:32 am

Oh my gosh that second extreme selfie makes me feel all woozy inside….like when I’m climbing up lots of stairs and look up and feel all disoriented, yikes.

I find excessive phone use annoying all the time, whether it’s selfie-taking or not. Of course, I never notice when I’M the one excessively using my phone, you know, because I’m busy checking my facebook feed.

Bottom line: I think the constant distraction our phones provide is not a good thing, because we’re less present in our actual lives and instead more interested in figuring out what we can post that will get attention or checking out what other people are doing and feeling jealous. Sometimes I’m breastfeeding my daughter and checking my facebook feed and I’m like, “what am I doing? I want to present for this!” and then I put the phone done. Usually. Unless it’s the only thing keeping me awake at 3 in the morning.


JavaChick June 2, 2014 at 9:22 am

The partt that bothered me most about “Angels and Demons” (and “The DaVinci Code”) was the fuss that everyone made over them when they were extremely mediocre books in terms of writing.

I’m really not a selfie person and I can’t imagine stopping to take a selfie in a precarious situation like that.


Charlotte C June 2, 2014 at 9:22 am

During the recent elections to the European Parliament, the returning officer made a statement on the practice of taking polling-booth selfies (it’s fine, if you were wondering, but remember to show only the back of your ballot paper). People do that? People do that so frequently that there’s a need for an official statement about it?


Abby June 2, 2014 at 10:48 am

I don’t know, I guess it’s the self-obsession that bugs me about the “selfie” stuff. An occasional one to commemorate something cool seems fine but the constant barrage, not so much. But since I’m rarely ever on Facebook and don’t use Instagram or anything like that I’m not really exposed to it. I think if you’re like me and don’t like it, it’s easy enough to avoid.


HappinessSavouredHot June 2, 2014 at 10:50 am

Love the pictures! Especially the last one. :-) Looks like a beautiful place.

I have never taken any selfies and I never will!


Nasca June 2, 2014 at 12:07 pm

As a mother of 3 boys, the dangerous selfies get to me for sure. Yoga is totally about mind-body-spirit connection, but that’s also outdated according to the times. My favorite is the”extreme exhausted kid” passed out at your feet while “extremely white” cancer cautious parents frolic in the foreground!!! You Rock Char;) You are a Rock Char!!!


Amanda Lee June 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm

I think digital photos have made selfies an issue more than anything. In my family we’ve been taking selfies since I was little (and I’m 32) with a film camera, or more likely one of those disposable cameras. But you didn’t take many, because it cost to develop the film! And you didn’t share them with everyone, because you only had hard copies! I don’t think it’s the selfie taking, but the fact that we can 1.) take so many so easily and 2.) distribute so many so easily. When I binge selfie I’m usually trying to get one good photo that makes me look the way I think I look. I suppose the lesson here is that I don’t look the way I think I look! I also enjoy sneaking selfies with my husband, because we don’t take a lot of photos, and I’ll at least have one ridiculous looking picture to commemorate some sort of event, like our first half marathon selfie, or our first trip to Vegas selfie. (He even did one “we’re about to have a baby” selfie that is hilarious. I look very angry about having a baby. But that was the only photo we took until the baby was born–selfies don’t dominate our time or our appreciation of an event.) But I admit, I don’t really understand the whole thing about posting many photos of yourself looking the same over and over again. I have some younger cousins that do it, and its sort of like letting everyone look through your picture proofs and decide which ones they like. But I don’t really get it.


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