Selfies Make You Look Bad. Here's Why.

Selfies are fun to take and easier than asking a stranger. So why shouldn't you use them on a dating profile?

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June 28, 2021

A vast majority of our clients come to us with one thing in common: At least one of their photos is a selfie. I’m here to tell you that selfies are screwing up your look. Here are some reasons why (plus what you can do about it).

1. Selfie distortion warps your face

female selfie distortion
“Selfies make our noses look 30 percent larger than they really are, plastic surgeons warn.” – Vox

Plastic surgeons have been dealing with a recent influx of clients bringing in their selfies as proof of a “big nose” or “high forehead,” etc. The problem? The client’s nose is fine; what they’re looking at on their phone isn’t real — it’s selfie distortion.

Turns out, in order to capture your face as it actually is, pictures need to be taken from farther away than your own arm can reach. If you take a picture too close, the feature closest to the camera (nose, chin, etc.) appears super-sized and the sides of the face cave in. See here:

male selfie distortion
As illustrated by the Koldunov Brothers

This subtle fisheye effect is why people can often sense that a picture is a selfie even when they can’t see the person’s arm in the shot.

2. Selfies contort the body

Now, if selfie distortion warps the face, you can be sure it warps the body as well — making the upper body appear larger, or smaller, or misshapen.

What’s more is that twisting your arm whatever way necessary to take the picture can limit your ability to pose your body in a flattering way.

3. Selfies have unflattering connotations

So far, when I’ve said “selfie,” I’ve been referring to pointing your phone at yourself with an outstretched arm. For this point, though, I’ll also include mirror selfies — which are slightly different because your camera is facing out, at a mirror. Mirror selfies typically have less camera distortion but still carry all the negative connotations that all selfies have.

female and male mirror selfies

See, many people view selfies unkindly because they associate unfortunate traits with people who take them (e.g. arrogance, vanity, self-absorption, superficiality).

Negative connotations affect selfies taken alone in bedrooms, bathrooms, or cars most of all— as opposed to selfies taken at events or while on adventures.

While both men and women say they dislike selfies on dating profiles, male selfies are especially disliked, as women say a male selfie can come across overly-intimate (read: stranger danger) while also lacking positive information about the man’s personality or lifestyle.

How to avoid selfie distortion forever

If you want to look better in pics, be mindful of putting some distance between you and the camera.

Some solutions to accomplish this:

  • Try using a long selfie stick. Unfortunately, you’ll still have the twist in your arm and people will recognize your pic as a selfie, but your face will look better.
  • Prop up your phone, set your camera’s timer, and take a few steps back in order to get distortion-free, well-posed pics of yourself.
  • Better yet, ask family and friends to snap some pictures of you while you’re out and about together. The best pictures are usually taken out in public, so it’s worth the initial vulnerability to make this into a habit.

Yes, as you’ll be taking your photos from farther away, you might need to download a photo editor and crop them in sometimes. But it’s well-worth the effort for a ridiculously better shot.


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