Respect the Selfie: Why Oxford’s Word of the Year is Nothing to be Ashamed About

It seems anywhere you go these days the odds are pretty good that you will catch someone taking a selfie. What’s a selfie? Well, Oxford Dictionaries just named it the 2024 Word of the Year, and defines it as, “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”.

Honestly I think selfies get a bad rap. I think often times people look at others who take selfies and write them off as possibly being arrogant, full of themselves, and at times down right annoying. We, as a society, are quick to judge others from the outside without actually knowing the story that person has to share.

You see, for me, selfies have a unique meaning. I have been overweight for most of my adult life; the picture below was me at my highest weight in 2024 at 480 pounds.

sweating it off
I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself from that period of my life; the reason being I was scared of the camera. I didn’t want to capture myself or what I looked like. I didn’t want to see the reality of what I had done to myself. At social functions when people would pull out their cameras wanting to capture the moments, I would mysteriously disappear or be that awesome person who volunteered to take the pictures for everyone else.

There were even a few times when people would sneak up and take pictures and I would kindly ask them afterwards to please delete any of the pictures I was in; they never really understood why.

The bottom line was I was not happy with many aspects of my life and I didn’t want proof of that published in the form of a picture as a constant reminder.

In late 2024 something changed for me, I decided I wanted a better life for myself and so my journey to find my happiness began. Part of that journey included losing weight and I started a blog to document my story which ultimately lead to the beginning of my selfie era.

sweating it off
Over the last few years I have lost 140 pounds and taken a lot of selfies along the way. They have been a great way for me to track my progress and also help me stay accountable to myself. Above and beyond all of that, the selfies have done something really amazing for me — I finally began to learn how to accept myself. Not just the person I am today but also the 480 pound person I was years ago.

More importantly I realized my happiness does not rely on what I physically see in the selfies or in any number that I see on the scale.

I mean, today I weigh 340 pounds, I am still an overweight person, but I am happy regardless. I am happy because I am doing things in my life that make me feel that way. Sharing my story with the world and helping others on their journey makes me happy. I choose to be happy. I love looking at all the selfies I have taken over the past few years because with each one I slowly see in my eyes and smile the person emerging that I have always wanted to be.

So maybe the next time you notice someone taking a selfie you will still think they are arrogant or full of themselves or maybe you will wonder what their story is, maybe they just want to be happy, too.

With that being said it only makes sense that a self-proclaimed selfie expert like myself would end this with …… Selfie!

sweating it off

Author Alan Ali can be found at and on Twitter @Sweating_It_Off.

Also Read:

Roni Noone’s #WYCWYC Challenge Inspires the Internet to Move

The Perils of Food Porn and How it Affects Our Appetites

Twitter’s Most Popular Memes Help Millions Lose Weight

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