Why Selfies Sometimes Look Weird to Their Subjects

The Atlantic:

Welcome to the department of discarded selfies, a dark place deep inside my phone where dimly lit close-up shots of my face are left to fade away into the cloud. I’ve thought about sending these photos to friends many times—that’s why I took them, after all—but each time my finger lingers over the share button, a few questions stop me: Why does my face look so weird? Are my eyelids that droopy? Is my chin that lop-sided? And how come nobody warned me?

Taking purposefully ugly selfies encourages photographers to seize control of their self-image by rejecting beauty standards and embracing the imperfect humanity of our faces. But what about earnest selfies that are just accidentally ugly?

Don’t blame your face. Blame your brain instead. Selfies sometimes look strange to their subjects because of how we see ourselves in the mirror, how we perceive our own attractiveness, and the technical details of how we take them on camera phones.

“We see ourselves in the mirror all the time—you brush your teeth, you shave, you put on makeup,” says Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Center. “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.”

“The interesting thing is that people don’t really know what they look like,” says Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the author of Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want. “The image you have of yourself in your mind is not quite the same as what actually exists.”

Read the whole story: The Atlantic

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