Selfie 'Magic' Catching On

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The year also saw Pope Francis in a selfie with teenagers at the Vatican, as well as pop diva Beyonce turning up in a smiling fan's selfie in Australia, to cite a couple of Time magazine's "11 most memorable selfies of 2013."

From Los Angeles, gossip blogger Perez Hilton declared a pink-haired Miley Cyrus posing for herself in a skimpy Lil' Kim Halloween costume his favorite among countless celebrity selfies over the past 12 months. But there's no need to be famous to become famous for a selfie. Thanks to Reddit and other social media websites, goofy selfies of a proud twenty-something dad in the Pacific Northwest state of Oregon mimicking the faces of his newborn baby daughter went viral overnight.

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"We just watched the camera screen and copied whatever face she was making," explained Eddie Wheeler to his fellow Reddit users.

In Norway, popular fitness blogger Caroline Berg Eriksen snapped herself in a mirror, wearing bra and panties, showing off a firm flat tummy just four days after she gave birth. Critics branded her selfie a "disservice" to women, but Eriksen struck back, saying she took it -- and shared it -- "because I'm proud of myself and my body for something as tough as a pregnancy/birth."

And then there was the young woman in New York who snapped a selfie with the Brooklyn Bridge -- and an attempted suicide leap -- in the background. That image caused a stir when it made page one of the New York Post.

"A selfie is a sort of perversion (and) a conquest of social virtual terrain," said Paris-based travel photographer Jean-Francois Vibert, who blogs at www.macandphoto.com. "Happily, perversion is not prohibited," added Vibert, who name-checks the flamboyant pop star Nicki Minaj for selfies "so 'trash,' it's self-mockery. On that level, the selfie is decadence for a totally decadent era."

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Kennel said self-portraits are as old as photography itself. The National Gallery's current exhibition of the work of Charles Marville features selfies of the 19th century French photographer in which he styles himself as a suave Parisian boulevardier -- the hipster of his day.

Meanwhile, in London, the National Portrait Gallery has just put out a call for selfies to be included in a panel discussion on January 16 entitled "The Curated Ego: What Makes a Good Selfie?"

In announcing the event, organizers identified Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia as "one of the first teenagers to take a selfie." That was in 1914, when she was 13. Alas, she had no Facebook or Twitter account to share it on.