Post # 1
Weird question, but here goes. I know that it’s common for people to be unpleasantly surprised by how they look in photos. I’m not sure whether this is down to inflated opinions of ourselves or some trick of the camera lens/bad lighting/being caught at an unfortunate angle, or a combination of all those things. I usually like myself in the mirror more than in pictures, and I know that’s common too. I figure it must have something to do with how we unconsciously put on our “mirror face,” holding ourselves at a flattering angle or something, when we check ourselves out.
What confuses me is that sometimes I see a picture of myself and I’m like “Hey there pretty lady!” while other times I’m like “Oh so apparently I’m a MONSTER?” I mean sometimes you just get caught at a bad angle, but I’m talking about the kind of pictures where you don’t even understand how it’s physically possible to look so different from your mirror/mental image of yourself. But other people pretty much always look the same to me. It’s not like I’m ever talking to a friend and suddenly think “Wow she just looked really ugly for a second there!” You know? And even in pictures other people seem to look pretty consistent, and like themselves. Whereas pictures of me seem to range from “hot stuff” to “dog crap.” Which makes me wonder what I really look like!
Since I’m not a special snowflake I figure I can’t be the only one who feels this way, and it’s probably just some strange psychological quirk. Do you feel like you know what you actually look like to other people? Do you trust what you see in the mirror? Do you “believe” good photos or bad photos more? Does seeing a particularly bad picture of yourself put a dent in your self esteem? Or am I just exceptionally vain?
Post # 3
I disagree, you are special as a snowflake. We all are 🙂
This happens to me ALL the time, but I prefer the picture me over the mirror me. Sometimes that is. And even in different mirrors I look different. I go in the bathroom to apply my makeup in the harsh light and I’m looking OK. I get in the car 2 minutes later and look in the side mirror and I look like some freak of nature. Although I’m sure I look the same it’s just different in lights. And a few times I haven’t been able to recognize myself in photos but everyone else is like on first sight “Hey look there you are!” and I do find it odd that everyone else always looks the same.
Maybe it’s because we see ourselves every day so any minor details we pick up quick?
Post # 4
LOL, I know what you mean! I think it is just a functionof us being ultra critical of ourselves. I know I will be looking at pictures with my friends and one of us will say “God I look AWFUL” and the other will respond with “What? No, you look great. What are you talking about?” We’ll both mean it too. So I really think the difference is just projecting our insecurities onto the pictures.
Post # 5
- Wedding: October 2014 - UK
I’m just the same – but I think camera flashes are my Worst Enemy, because they always highlight my rosacea (which tends to flare up in situations where cameras are likely to be because I’m warm/drunk/excited), and really shows up the shadows under my eyes. Add to that my tendency to pull in my chin to get the double-chin-derp-face-mega-combo, cameras and I are not bestie best buds.
Post # 6
@Eglantine: I know exactly what you mean. It’s funny, I’ve had the experience of even looking different to myself in different mirrors in a very short period of time. Like, for example, I’ll get ready to go out somewhere and in my mirror at home I’ll think I look fine, cute even. And then when we get wherever and I have to use the restroom and catch a glimpse of myself in another mirror, I’ll be like, “Omg, what the ??” It’s funny. And pictures are definitely the same way. With pictures sometimes I will initially HATE the picture of myself and then if I look at it a lot later (even years later) I’ll think it wasn’t really all that bad.
I wonder if we ever really know what we look like. I’ve had these same thoughts, so you’re not alone.
I felt crazy one time because I was thinking about this very topic, really hard! I’d had a glass of wine or three and was looking at my DH. He is so amazingly beautiful to me, just perfect. I love his face, his hair, his body – he’s gorgeous and I’m so completely attracted to him in every way. I was (in my tipsy state of mind) thinking to myself, “I wonder what it’s like to be him and have the most perfect face, hair and body all the time. He never looks bad, never! Whereas I feel like I look bad at least half the time.” It was a crazy thought and I even TRIED with all my might to see him in a different way, like objectively, to see if I could get him at a bad angle where he wasn’t so attractive to me. Sounds nuts, huh?! And it didn’t work, he still looked perfect to me. I wish I could see myself as looking perfect all the time. (Btw, I did not mention one thing about these random thoughts to DH at that time).
Hahaha! Maybe we are really just crazy, hmmmmm. Now I’m worried.
Post # 8
@Sunfire: I know, there are totally good mirrors and bad mirrors. I always look better in one of the bathrooms in my house and worse in the other one. And there are a couple of restaurants and even a movie theater where I’ll get a little ego boost if I use the restroom because I always look good in their mirrors. And that’s…totally nuts!!! At least I’m not the only one!
Post # 9
@Eglantine: I think it’s the lighting sometimes, lol. Even in dressing rooms I’ve noticed it. For example, trying on swimsuits in bad lighting is like entering the portals of the depths of hell. I have noticed in Victoria’s Secret the dressing rooms lighting is always very good, though. 😉
Post # 10
I think some of it has to do with symmetry. None of us are completely, fully symmetrical- so when we look in the mirror, the image is reversed. Pictures show us more of how other people see us, and how we truly look (bad lighting, unfortunate angles aside). The ‘reverse face’ always looks just a little bit different…. Thus the reaction.
Obviously there are tons of other factors; I just wanted to add that in.
I know my expressions make me feel super-self-concious in photos, though.
Post # 11
That happens to me constantly. I usually think I look pretty good when I look in the mirror, but most of the time when I see pictures of myself later, I always think “Hey, what the heck happened, I looked great when I left!” I usually hate myself in pictures. I always think I smile weird or if I don’t smile, that I look angry or something.
Post # 12
I was browsing through a photography site once, and I wish I could remember/find it again, but there was a series of pictures taken of the exact same subject at the same time in the same place with different cameras, lenses, settings, etc. There were huge variations in the coloring, and even in what the shape of her face and features looked like!
I very rarely see pictures of myself that I like. I think part of it is that we are our own harshest critics. Part of it is that we only see ourselves in a specific, somewhat artificial situation by looking in the mirror. On the other hand, we see the full range of natural expressions of the people we know all the time, so whatever moment the camera captures of them is more normal to us.
We had to tape ourselves for a class assignment recently and worse than how I looked was how weird my default facial expression is and how incredibly strange I sound!
@Sunfire: I feel this way too. DH is like, crazy handsome all the time. He has very strong features, so I don’t know if they just always look the same regardless of the angle, or what.
Post # 13
A mirror is a “mirror-image” (duh) of your face, while a camera photo is an actual image. Nobody’s face is perfectly symmetrical, so what you see in the mirror is opposite to what you view in a photo, and slightly different. Humans have an innate preference for that which is most familiar, so assuming you don’t take a photo of yourself every day and stare at it, the familiar image of yourself is likely what you see in a mirror, so it gets the familiarity points, and why you might not recognize yourself in photos.
Also, bad angles. My face always seems much flatter in photos than I think it does when I look at myself in the mirror. It’s just the light isn’t reflected as well in a 2D image.
Post # 14
I think in terms of my face I usually feel like I look the same in pictures and in real life. But then again I’m also not SUPER critical of when I’m making a weird face or something because I know everyone does that. And I also think that when we’re looking at other people we more just look to recognize them and dont over-analyze what exactly they look like. For example, my husband is just my husband. I look at him every day but most days I couldn’t tell you if he has a beard or not (he changes constantly). But to me he is just “him” so it isn’t like I’m staring him down all “okay, goatee today and the blue shirt folds weird…”. Whereas when you see a photo of yourself you start just analyzing and comparing yourself to others.
Where I do think cameras suck is in weight. I think I have a weird skinny filter in my head because when I look in the mirror I generally think I look fine. Then I see a photo and i’m like holy moses where did that width come from>!
Post # 15
Good points ladies. I’ve noticed that some people are more photogenic because of symmetry and strong bone structure. While these features would tend to make someone more attractive in real life as well, I think they pay off even more in photos. I have one friend who has a very strong bone structure (she thinks too strong), and she always look amazing in photos. Whereas people with rounder faces and softer bone structure tend not to photograph as well, although those aspects are not necessarily unattractive in person.
And while I said before that other people tend to look pretty consistent in pictures to me, I realize a lot of it is that we just don’t study other people’s faces the way we scrutinize our own. My husband and I don’t frequently have our pictures taken, but since we were married recently we obviously were in a lot of pictures. And I’ve noticed that in some of the guest pics we’ve gotten back, my husband looks SO FOINE and in others he looks…weird. I guess in reality he usually looks not quite as amazing as the best pictures and definitely NOT as bad as the worst ones, so that’s probably the answer for the rest of us too, as much as I want to believe that only the best pictures are an accurate reflection of me (ha).
Post # 16
@Eglantine: Just wanted to say this is so EXACTLY how I feel, it’s almost creepy. 🙂