What Do We Actually Look Like?


HR Daily Advisor

Cameras and mirrors show you different images of yourself.

Madeeha Akhtar, Columnist

People are beginning to question what they see in the mirror. The picture that your friend took of you and your reflection in the mirror don’t look quite the same. That begs the question: “Which version of me is what I actually look like?” The answer isn’t that simple. Pictures of you aren’t the perfect depiction of the real you, but mirrors don’t show the truth either.

First of all, a mirror shows how we look in reverse, Allure explains. We are so used to seeing ourselves reversed, that pictures of ourselves look shocking. We see our reflection everyday: when we brush our teeth, comb our hair, and fix ourselves up before heading out. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Center, said, “Looking at yourself in the mirror becomes a firm impression. You have that familiarity. Familiarity breeds liking. You’ve established a preference for that look of your face.” This means, when we see the picture version of ourselves, we don’t like it because it is the opposite of what we are used to seeing everyday.

To add on to this, people often subconsciously turn their face to an angle that they like best when looking into a mirror, HuffPost explains. You can also notice a lot more detail in a photo as opposed to looking at yourself in a mirror, so it can be easier to notice imperfections in a picture.

Photos aren’t perfect, though. According to The Atlantic, angles, lighting, and facial expressions can easily ruin an image. This is why photographers are so picky about lighting. Cameras are also at fault. Camera lenses distort certain features and can even make things seem bigger than they really are. If your face is too close to your camera, be prepared to not get a flattering photo. Also, keep in mind that pictures are reimaging your 3D body into 2D pictures. This can flatten out some of your facial features.

It’s also likely that you’re just not as attractive as you think you are. According to Sage Journals, studies have shown that people tend to think they are better looking than they actually are. In the experiment, researchers photoshopped pictures of individuals to make them look better. They then asked the person to pick which image they thought was real and many of them picked the altered photo. Don’t feel bad, though. ResearchGate has proven that people like the version of you that they normally see, not the image of yourself you have in mind.

So don’t be afraid to go forth and take selfies. People like you just the way you are and you should, too.