Why Do I Look Better in the Mirror?

Why Do I Look Better in the Mirror Than in Pictures?

The answer may surprise you.

When it comes to a good night out, you usually worry more about the pictures that have been tagged online rather than about what you said or did. Although you left your home looking like a full ten, those pictures, now online make you feel more like a 5, which has left you questioning ‘why do I look different in the mirror?’ or ‘look so ugly in pictures?’

Photo by Caroline Veronez

Thanks to the popular selfies, people are now questioning what they see in their own mirrors? Is the picture a true reflection of what you look like or is your mirror holding the truth? Have they been lying to you all along? 

The answer may surprise you. Although the image you see staring back at you in selfies isn’t an accurate depiction of you, your mirror may not be telling the whole truth either. Let’s have a look below at a scientific breakdown that could explain those questionable photos.

Your Reflection Isn’t The Real You

Although we are all most comfortable with the face staring back at us while we brush our teeth in the morning, the reflection you see in the mirror isn’t really the real you. It’s just a reflection so, you are seeing yourself in reverse. Because we are so used to seeing the reverse image in mirrors, when you see pictures of yourself, it can throw you off a little. Unless you are lucky enough to have a  perfectly symmetrical face, the photo version of yourself can appear wonkier. 

Photo by Sam Lion

Scientists refer to this as the “mere-exposure” effect. It’s a behavior concocted by psychologist Robert Zajonc that suggests people react favorably to things they’re most familiar with. Therefore, when you see a picture of yourself, it’s a flipped version and you immediately find it disgusting or hate it as it’s the opposite way to how you usually look. 

So, although we think that we look way better in our mirror, we’re more psychologically inclined to feel like that, even if we do actually look better in photos.

The Camera Can Have An Impact

So, if what you see in the mirror isn’t the real you, does it mean the ugly selfies you love are what you really look like? Mirrors show a flipped version of you that tones the harshness of your asymmetries, however, the pictures can lie to you too. Think about it, how many selfies do you take before you find the one that is most flattering? Usually, it consists of a change of lighting, angles, backgrounds, and many different pouts before choosing one that is worthy of going online. 

The problem may not lay with your angles, it may be through lens distortion. The lens can distort certain features of your face depending on the proximity of the lens to your face. It can make them look larger and disproportionate compared to normal life. Photos also only provide a 2-D version of you. So, if you have a round face that is soft, you may find that photos flatten your features and make you look different from normal. Because cameras don’t show the 3-D version of you, it can make it easy for cameras to present something that is entirely false and tricks the viewer.

Professional models are the experts in this department and can make a massive difference just by using different angles. 

Look At The Camera Flash

Good lighting can be the key to achieving flattering photos. Harsh light from your phone can make you look worst, especially on a night out in a dark room. It has been said that a camera flash can add up to seven years to your age. On top of this, it can make you appear greasy and shiny.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich

Cameras aren’t able to adjust to light and dark as our eyes do. They are only able to focus on highlights and shadows. This may result in less flattering pictures. It’s best to stick to natural, outdoor lighting if you want the best pictures. So, take a few pictures outdoors before you head inside where the lighting may not be as flattering. 

Your Smile May Be The Reason

It’s a familiar feeling to most people to know you have posed awkwardly in a photo, such as think about your driver’s license or passport. The photos always seem to be awful, and never look natural. When you are looking at yourself before you go out or just a casual glimpse of your reflection you are looking at a relaxed, confident you, who is more likely to smile and act naturally. 

If someone is catching you off guard for a picture it can instantly make you feel self-conscious about your past unphotogenic photos. You are obviously going to looking awful and dread the pictures going up online because it’s going to be a different image to what you see in the mirror. But, that tense awkwardness you get when someone shouts ‘CHEESE’ could be the reason your photos aren’t looking the best. 

No matter how many things can be used to blame for your rubbish pictures, it all comes down to psychology. Maybe the reason you look different in pictures is that the version of yourself you like best is a figment of your imagination.

Your Just Aren’t As Attractive As You Think

Horrible right? However, according to a 2008 study, people tend to see themselves as more attractive than they actually are. In the study,  researchers photoshopped pictures of participants to make them look more attractive and mixed them with different photos of strangers. They were then asked to pick their picture out of a lineup. The subjects picked their pictures more quickly where they look more attractive. 

Photo by Louis

On the contrary, other experts have stated the opposite. And they think that people tend to view themselves as less attractive than they are. Whatever may be the truth, it’s likely that when you beat yourself up about how you look it’s all in your head.