Today, we need to talk about something very important.
It is a question as old as time. Well, not really. It’s probably a question that emerged in 1839 when the first ever selfie was taken.
I have no doubt that immediately following this photo, Robert Cornelius said to himself “Okay – I legit thought I was a lot hotter than that”. And we’ve been thinking the same thing ever since.
Today, a man posted to Reddit asking: Why do I look handsome in the mirror, but ugly in photos?
I only just asked myself this question over the weekend. I was doing my make up, getting ready to go out and thought “Dayum gurl, you’re looking good”. I left my house with an air of (what I thought) was justified confidence. That was, until…someone took a photo.
I looked like a thumb. It was like…I had no features. Or a neck. Prior to this photo, I could have sworn I had a neck. But photos don’t lie. Or DO they?
The philosophical question of this century therefore becomes: Was the mirror lying? Or the camera?
Here are some answers:
The difference between 3D and 2D.
One Reddit user, appropriately named ‘Extremely Qualified’, explained that a mirror conveys a more dimensional image, closer to 3D, whereas a photo flattens the shape to 2D.
Different camera lenses also change the shape and depth of the human face. Don’t believe me?
The user added “The lens might not be the same focal length as your eyes. Most phone cameras are wider angle (lower number) than your own eye, which distorts features.”
Our mirror image is animated
One contributor wrote “…in a mirror you are moving. A lot of people are attractive because of how well they use their body, rather than their proportions. In a photo you lose all of that information”.
Photos capture us mid yawn. Or part way through smiling, with our eyes semi closed. Or shoving a chip into our mouths. As a particularly unphotogenic person, I can attest to the SCIENTIFIC FACT that photos capture us at our worst.
The mirror is far more dynamic, and I can pull my standard mirror face which I have worked on for many years.
A mirror flips the image
This theory posits that it’s actually the mirror distorting your face. Of course, a mirror flips the image, meaning everything you see is on the opposite side. So when we see a photograph of ourselves, which is not flipped “imperfections you’ve gotten used to over time are now new and surprising”.
A commenter said that because we are far more used to looking in the mirror, than looking at photos of ourselves, the latter will always seem odd. Our brain dislikes the image, because something doesn’t look quite right.
Flash is f*****
Any human who has ever been photographed can attest to the universal truth that the camera flash is f*****.
Tech site Gizmodo explains “flash illuminates subjects harshly, turning elegant faces normally accented by soft shadows into a flat, shadowless, cadaveric horror shows.”
Flash ROBS us of colour and the necessary shadows that give our faces (and bodies) definition. Flash routinely denies me my eyebrows/eyelashes/lips/nose, making it difficult to differentiate between a photo of me on a night out and Voldemort.
So in conclusion, all those revolting tagged photos that haunt us on Facebook are distorted, two dimensional representations of our (amazing) faces, that absolutely do not do us justice.
Next time you see a horrific photo of yourself and start yelling “I DO NOT LOOK LIKE THAT”, remember, your overwhelming beauty just hasn’t translated.
And it happens to the best of us.