The rise of the 0.5 selfie – The Denver Post

By Kalley Huang, The New York Times Company

Julia Herzig, a 22-year-old from Larchmont, New York, has “an obsession.” It’s with taking a new kind of selfie — one that doesn’t exactly conform.

In some of these selfies, Herzig’s forehead bulges across half of the frame. Her eyes are half disks, peering up at something beyond the camera. Her nose juts out. Her mouth is invisible. These images are best when they have “ominous, creepy vibes,” she said.

Herzig started taking these pictures — called 0.5 selfies (pronounced “point five” selfies, and not “half” selfies) — when she upgraded to an iPhone 12 Pro last year and discovered that its back camera had an ultra-wide-angle lens that could make her and her friends look “distorted and crazy.”

But what seemed like a joke was bigger than Herzig, a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, thought. A few months ago, after spring break, she opened Instagram to a feed full of 0.5 selfies.

“All of a sudden, one day, everyone was taking 0.5 selfies,” she said.

Wherever Gen Z gathers these days, a 0.5 selfie is almost bound to be taken, capturing the moment with random flattery — or comical lack thereof. The 0.5 selfies are showing up on Instagram, proliferating in group chats, becoming the talk of parties and often being snapped to chronicle the minutiae of daily life.

Unlike a traditional selfie, which people can endlessly prepare and pose for, the 0.5 selfie — so named because users tap 0.5x on a smartphone camera to toggle to ultra-wide mode — has become popular because it is far from curated. Since the ultra-wide-angle lens is built into the back cameras of phones, people can’t watch themselves take a 0.5 selfie, creating random images that convey the whimsy of distortion.

“You really don’t know how it’s going to turn out, so you just have to trust the process and hope something good comes out of it,” said Callie Booth, 19, from Rustburg, Virginia, who added that a good 0.5 selfie was the “antithesis” of a good front-facing one.

In their best 0.5 selfies, Booth said, she and her friends are blurry and straight-faced.

“It’s not the traditional perfect picture,” she said. “It makes it funnier to look back on.”

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