Master of the meta-selfie: Why Kim Kardashian's new book cover makes such a bold statement

Kardashian debuts the cover of "Selfish," her new book of "self-portraits of the digital age"

By Erin Keane

Editor in Chief

Published January 21, 2015 8:36PM (EST)

Kim Kardashian unveiled the cover of her forthcoming book on Twitter yesterday with a masterful example of the form. Her self-shot cover of “Selfish” might indeed be the ideal selfie, the fabled selfie at the end of the mind, the one selfie to rule them all, one does not simply walk into a public bathroom and take a mirror selfie, and so on etcetera.

Due out in May, “Selfish,” Kardshian’s collection of what her publisher Rizzoli euphemistically calls “modern day self-portrait(s) of the digital age,” promises to be a high-end version of the photo brag book usually created only for doting grandparents, a collection that dares us, tame thrill though it may be to seek, to gorge on years of Kardshian’s Instagram feed in one calorie-free sitting.

The cover features all of the numbers one needs to hit a true selfie bingo—flattened eyes trained on an unseen lure just above the camera line, oddly reminiscent of a doll's disconnected stare; lips pursed in a kind of proto-duckface suggesting also the blowing out of candles or the soothing of a minor scrape; front-and-center cleavage distorted to miraculous perspective thanks to the angle of the phone; and finally, contorted arms ending in phantom-painful stumps at the border of the frame. Also, it must be noted, her eyebrows look spectacular.

For her cover-selfie Kardashian presents herself as studiously casual, clad only in a sports bra and towel, hair wet from the shower. Paradoxically, she also sports what appears to be full make-up, including possibly false eyelashes. This is what casual looks like in Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood—air-brushed perfection passed off as spontaneity—and not coincidentally, what every selfie ever taken aspires to be.

This book cover might not break the internet, but it will be studied by scholars of the form who will pore over the collection, looking for the keys to unlocking the Kardashian mystique. Why the boundless appetite for self-portraiture? What is her process, her intent? What is she trying to tell us—about celebrity, about America, about ourselves—with those dead eyes under perfect brows?

It's clear that her supremacy in the form cannot be challenged. Kardashian has perfected the art of the selfie beyond competition or doubt. We have permission to stop trying now. There is nothing we can teach each other or even learn from our own fumbling, pedestrian attempts. There is only Kim Kardashian, coming all too soon to us in hardcover, page after page after page.

By Erin Keane

Erin Keane is Salon's Editor in Chief. Her memoir in essays, "Runaway: Notes on the Myths That Made Me," will be published in September 2022.

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