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How to love photos of yourself

2012-08-01 14:09:31

Published on 2012-08-01 14:09:31

I’ve often found looking at photos of myself uncomfortable, tending to focus on those things that I didn’t like – a crooked smile, a hair out of place, tired eyes. Talking to some photographers recently, I discovered that I’m not alone – their experience of photographing women suggests that many women dislike their own photos. Delving into the research, I found a study that revealed 50% of women hate looking at their own photos, while 75% are so self conscious that they avoid appearing in photos all together.

Photos are a great way of recording events in our life, big and small – how sad that many of us are avoiding being in them. So when faced with photos of yourself, how do you learn to accept, or even love the image looking back at you?

You are not your reflection

Throughout your life, you’ve become accustomed to seeing your reflection in the mirror - a reflected duplication that is identical, but reversed. When you look at photos, you see an image of yourself that is a complete reversal of what you are used to. This can cause surprise and sometimes discomfort at how you look, but is simply your brain’s reaction to seeing something that it wasn’t expecting. The more that you look at photos of yourself, the more you will get used to them. Remember, the way you appear in photos is how everyone else sees you.

Don’t compare your photos with media images

One reason many women don’t like looking at photos of themselves is that they compare them with pictures in magazines and other advertising media. When you look at a ‘real’ picture of yourself and don’t see a perfectly slim, toned and pore free image looking back, your self esteem takes a battering. Airbrushing and other forms of digital alternation have made us forgot what normal women really look like. Media images are not representative of real women, so don’t compare yourself with them.


woman with photos of herself

See your picture as a whole

Women have a tendency to divide their body up into parts focussing on ‘bits’ they don’t like, rather than seeing their picture as a whole. Look at your image in its entirety – you may not always like your individual parts, but they are all designed to fit together perfectly to make you the person you are. Focussing on the whole picture, you’re more likely to get a more balanced view of your appearance, and notice what you do like.

Look beyond your appearance

A picture tells you so much more than just what you look like – it’s a snapshot of your life. When you look at a photo, remember what was happening at that time, what memories does the photo bring back? What can you tell about the emotions you were experiencing from your facial expressions? Photos can evoke both happy and sad memories, serving as a reminder of not only the good times, but how far we’ve come in our lives. Taking this perspective on your photos will give you a richer, more pleasurable experience when you look at yourself in them.

See every picture as perfect in its own way and love yourself in them!

Thank you to photographers Richard Shymansky and Kerry Harrison who inspired me to write this blog post.

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