The Lens

The New Selfie: Feet

Beyonce, Lea Michele and Rita Ora are among those embracing the "footsie," which could end up being 2014's social media pose to beat.
FEETIE: Jessica Alba celebrates New Years Eve by the pool.
@jessicaalba/Instagram

Selfies -- aka social media pictures that you take of yourself -- are clogging smartphone screens from L.A. to London. Case in point: The trend has become so popular that "selfie" was named Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year for 2013.

But this week -- as famous faces flock to warm locales to celebrate the holidays -- the "footsie" has stolen some of the selfie's thunder as the social media pose to beat. It isn't a new thing. Feet are always the perfect distance away for a portrait, and fashionistas can't resist framing theirs against a beautiful backdrop -- the more envy-inducing the better. With feet in the foreground (and no face in sight), nature is recorded at its most beautiful. Tropical beaches, lakes, valleys and mountains are among the locales.

It is the exclusive domain of women -- there are no hairy male toes in the lot -- the exception being the pampered peds of Jay-Z as captured by his wife, Beyonce. The rich depict their lucky "dogs" living the good life, spending time beside infinity-edge pools and aboard speed boats and yachts in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Glee star Lea Michele photographed hers while at an idyllic oceanside resort in Mexico.

"Feet selfies are usually taken while sunbathing, around the pool or at the beach, up against the railing of a boat or terrace, so one's naked feet become part of the view," says Sharon Graubard, senior vp creative services at trend-forecasting portal Stylesight. "By shooting your feet, you locate yourself in the setting, personalizing it."

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One practitioner of the art is Gina Tolleson, executive editor at Santa Barbara Magazine and Miss World 1991. According to her, "Selfies say, 'I am here. I am present in this beautiful location or moment. How lucky I am to touch my feet on this hallowed ground.' "

No words are required. "Resting one's feet in a beautiful setting reveals how lucky we may feel in the moment, or simply that we are taking a load off for a little while to enjoy life less burdened," says Joe Navarro, a body language expert and adjunct faculty at St. Leo University in Florida. "It signals status, authority, power, happiness or contentment."

With one shot, we tell the world, "I am not working on a beautiful day, just relaxing." An effect Graubard describes as, " 'I am here and you are not.' It's definitely a vanity shot."

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Apparently, our tootsies show emotion. "When we are happy, we wiggle our toes and walk with a bounce. Feet together is comforting, feet apart is more territorial," says Navarro, who finds it interesting that the feet are always in focus.

By nature, the feet-selfies (footsies?) should never look like you are trying too hard. Images are often cock-eyed as cocktails are just out of frame and sometimes even in the shot. "Crooked horizons add to the spontaneous hand-held documentary quality," says Graubard. That said, she advises: "The best selfies are artistic -- it's an image, after all -- so composition, focus and color still count!"

 

What do you think?

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