Hillary Clinton joins the 'selfie' Instagram revolution

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As the self-shot snap jumps species from teens and pop moppets to world-leaders-in-waiting, Matthew Bell salutes its unstoppable rise

Once we had the Kodak moment. Now it's all about the selfie, the over-exposed arm's length shot of you and a mate, snapped on a smartphone and zipped on to Instagram. And no, this is not just a teenage fad. Hillary Clinton is the first world statesperson to seize the craze, posing for a toothy moment with her daughter, Chelsea, on Friday and instantly beaming it round the world.

The selfie has become such a phenomenon that lexicographers at the Oxford Dictionary Online are considering it for inclusion. Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Madonna are, not surprisingly, all addicts, while Justin Bieber and Harry Styles like to do it with their tops off. Barack Obama's daughters passed the time at his second inauguration taking pictures of themselves pulling faces and doing hand signals.

Now that a possible future president is doing it, how long before our leaders follow suit? It can't be long before Sam and Dave are whipping out their iPhones over lunch in Ibiza. The spontaneous selfie does everything the well-staged pap-snap fails to – it is warm and natural, and provides the viewer with a sense of being part of an intimate moment.

Pippa and Carole Middleton were photographed watching the tennis at Queen's Club on Thursday but missed a trick by not taking a picture of themselves. With Pippa undergoing another battery of public derision over her new column for Vanity Fair, once home to illustrious writers such as Christopher Hitchens, a well-timed selfie would have made her seem on trend, as against over-privileged and absurd.

The selfie will evolve with technology. Widescreen angles, faces actually in focus; it's enough to make professional photographers weep. Who will pay thousands for a wedding portrait when it will be quite acceptable to insta-snap it yourself. Thanks to Instagram, even the most disastrous pictures look hip. Could it even herald the end of the royal portrait? The Queen has sat for 129 and hasn't liked one. Please let her pull a selfie with Philip. Or would that be a wefie?

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