Trend Alert: 0.5 Selfies

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest trends that are impacting the daily lives of 16-24s.

Many viral trends begin with young people using technology in a way it was never intended, from Google Docs as a chat app to Zoom for lockdown dance parties and Instagram as a yearbook. The latest in this lineage of trends sees Gen Z using the extra-wide lens on their iPhone camera to take distorted, out-of-scale selfies that stand out on social media.

This innovation is known as the “0.5 selfie” and it’s become a mainstay on young people’s social media feeds over the past few months, according to a new piece published by The New York Times. While some might be confused about why anyone would want to fill their Instagram grid with unflattering photos taken at strange angles, it’ll come as no surprise to those who have been following Gen Z fashion and aesthetic movements in recent years. In fact, we can link this to many trends that have seen the generation rebelling against the pressure to be perfect.

As our 2021 Youth Trends Report revealed, 85% of 16-24s say being themself is more important to them than fitting in, and 75% say social media affects their sense of self in a negative way, from causing FOMO to making them feel their looks aren’t good enough. The rise of TikTok is a symptom of these feelings, as young people appreciate the freedom to have fun and be silly in an online space that celebrates individuality.

Much like finsta accounts, the 0.5 selfie trend brings this attitude to Instagram. Since Instagram is a platform traditionally used to curate an idealised image of yourself, the contrast is particularly striking when a crazy-looking selfie comes up while scrolling through the feed. In a small way, this is Gen Z’s attempt to disrupt the social norms that can make spending time on social media anxiety-inducing for many of their generation and remind their peers they’re free to post whatever makes them happy.

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