We look at our reflections all the time. It’s part of our morning routine. When we get ready for our day we make sure that we look our best, or our perception of what our best could be. We do our make-up and hair, we shave and bathe, and we wear our most stunning attire. Everything checks out in the mirror.
Then you get your picture taken. A selfie. A paparazzi shot. Video footage. A photograph.
Somehow, what you worked so hard for in front of your mirror, that creature that was so familiar and that you were actually beginning to feel comfortable with, suddenly looks like a stranger.
That wasn’t how you did your hair. That’s not how the make-up looked like this morning. And, the clothes that you’re wearing don’t suit you at all. Why does this keep happening?
It’s so frustrating to me because every day I feel like I’m changing. I’m finally becoming the adult that I always aspired to be and in the mirror, this transformation is reflected, but when I saw a picture that someone took of me recently, I look exactly as I did in high school. Maybe even a little worse.
Losing confidence and patience, I opened my camera app on my iPhone and placed the phone and my mirror side by side so that I can see the difference and perhaps figure out what I’m doing wrong. The discrepancy was shocking.
Even though both objects were essentially portraying the same person, under the same conditions and in the same position, they were two completely different images. In my opinion, my image was more appealing in the mirror than it was in the camera.
So, my question is which of these images do people see when they look at me, face to face?
That’s the whole point of primping in front of a mirror, isn’t it? You want to see what other people see and make sure the image is up to your standards. When it strikes you that what you thought other people would see, isn’t what you’d hoped for, it’s extraordinarily disappointing, and even a little embarrassing. What else do they think of you that you don’t consider of yourself?
I’ve mentioned how I don’t like how I look in pictures to others and they always sound so surprised. Likewise, when I hear someone else say the same thing about their own pictures, I react the same way. “I don’t think you’re ugly when I look at you. I just see you.”
What is it about photography that brings sudden personal awareness? Could it be that it’s revealing an ugly truth that we would rather hide with cover up or Photoshop? That we, as humans, are a self-centered race that just can’t be satisfied with a snapshot of one of our many bad sides?
Perhaps the answer is simpler than you think. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “There are no bad pictures, that’s just the way your face looks sometimes”.
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