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say cheese: the myspace shot

Image via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Image via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Photographs are nothing like they used to be. They were once a luxury, where you only had twelve shots on the camera roll so you had to make them special.

Now, everywhere you go there is a person with a camera, and people always crowd around and smile their fake smiles, no matter how happy they are. Those hundreds of photos are collected on facebook and put into neat little albums where the whole world can be jealous of everyone else’s life. I love and hate this ability at the same time. It’s amazing how we can create so many memories all at the touch of a button. But, we all know that dreaded moment when someone tags you in a photo where your drunken state has distorted your face into god knows what. And we all have those photos we wish never existed.

And then there’s the decision of choosing a profile picture on Facebook, which I find nearly impossible.

Let’s face facts: no matter what you write about yourself, the photo is what people instantly relate to on a profile. So do you go for the attractive, adventurous, interesting, drinking, popular with ten friends draped around your neck, or sticking your tongue down your boyfriend’s face look?

I can handle most choices of profile pictures, my favourite choice being an obscure object, cartoon or anything that eludes body image entirely. The worst for me: the horrid, artificial myspace shot, where you hold the camera at arms length, pose and shoot. They usually come with a flirtatious look and some cleavage. Okay, so some admissions are hard to make but I have tried this before, sitting alone in my bedroom adjusting the lights and camera to look sexy. I just looked silly in all the shots but that’s probably a good thing. It just means all those myspace moments were deleted immediately before they ever got revealed to the world.

I wanted to find out why there was such a big trend around these particular shots. I always thought they were only for fourteen year old girls, but statistics revealed on the Ok Cupid blog found that the often ridiculed MySpace shots (even ones without cleavage) are ‘the single most effective photo type for women’, attracting the most amount of men on an online dating site. Who would have thought?

Delving more into the issue though, to get a quality conversation happening on a dating site, you need to show more than just a coy face. This fact reflects real life as well: being sexy to guys may turn their heads but in the end, it will only get you so far.

A profile picture is completely representative of how you want people to see you. By clicking the ‘make profile picture’ button, you are saying to the world, this is me. Like a lot of people, I’ve always hated photos of me. They distort reality and make you think ‘do I really look like that in real life?’ People pretend in photos, people act differently in photos, but what I really love are those photos where you capture an innocence of life that only comes candidly.

So next time you choose a photo for a profile pic, don’t try and market yourself to the audience. Think about a time when you captured that true, real life moment with a camera and share that with the world. Even though it may not get as many hits on an online dating site, at least you’ll be able to look at it and see yourself.

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