The Real Reason You Hate The Way You Look In Pictures

Photo: Getty Images
The Real Reason You Hate The Way You Look In Pictures

You check your makeup in the bathroom mirror before you head out. Perfect! 

You take a selfie to immortalize your look forever, but you don't have time to make sure the selfie came out OK because you're already running late.

Later, when a friend asks to see a different picture, you scroll by your earlier bathroom selfie and you're horrified.

RELATED: Is Taking Nude Selfies Even Remotely Smart (Or Safe) Anymore?

Is that how you really look? What you thought was perfect is actually a big mess. How could you have been so wrong, and why do you hate the way you look in photos?

The problem is that most of us are used to seeing ourselves in mirrors, and unfortunately, the mirror lies.


A post shared by Über 350 Therapeuten & Coaches (@mentaviocom) on Mar 27, 2019 at 9:37am PDT

When we look at ourselves in a mirror, we might think we're seeing how we really look, but we're actually seeing an inverse image.

RELATED: What Guys REALLY Think Of Your Selfies

Most people's faces aren't absolutely symmetrical, but that's OK; we get used to seeing how their left eye is slightly larger than their right, or how their smile seems to turn downward.

After years of looking in the mirror (pre-teens spend half of their lives doing this), we get used to the face staring back at us.

And this is where mere-exposure comes in.

Mere-exposure (developed by a psychologist named Robert Zajonc) shows that people react better to things they see more often.


A post shared by @melismetehan on Apr 7, 2020 at 3:43am PDT

Zajonc found that mere-exposure works on everything from facial expressions to nonsense words.

We like what we're used to seeing, so it makes sense that we prefer the image of ourselves that we see all the time — the image with our flipped facial imperfections. 

RELATED: Sexy Celebs! See These 13 Stars In Bed

According to the mere-exposure effect, when you see a photographic representation of your face unflipped by the mirror, it looks odd to you, off-kilter and kind of strange.

But before you swear off selfies, make a promise to yourself to only take Snapchat selfies.

Why? Because Snapchat doesn't flip the image to its inverse; it takes a photo of you that you know and love.

Nicole Weaver is a love and entertainment writer. 

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on April 14, 2017 and was updated with the latest information.