Why You See Yourself Differently Than Others Do

3 years ago

Not everyone looks like their photo in real life, and online daters are probably people who’ve faced this truth the most. In fact, there are even threads with tons of messages on social media where people share their experience of meeting a completely different person from what their profile suggested. This often has nothing to do with photoshop or catfishing, but other factors that affect the way we think we look and how others see us.

We at Bright Side found out the facts about why our looks appear differently to others and now you can learn about it too.

1. Mirrors won’t give your true reflection.

When you look in a mirror, who do you see? Not the person other people see, since our reflection in the mirror is reversed by our brain. Raise your left hand, and the person in the mirror raises their right hand. From the way we part our hair to the way we smile, our faces are not symmetrical. The image we see looking at us from the mirror is not the face we show to the world — left and right are reversed.

2. Photo filters and angles can present your looks differently.

Experienced photographers say that the camera often distorts our appearance and can change it either for better or for worse (like while doing selfies). Surprisingly, our brain works like Photoshop. Our eyes (with help from our brain) automatically adjust to darkness and brightness.

Our cameras are not as amazing because they can be adjusted to focus on highlights or shadows, but never both at once. This is why a camera will never be able to “see” your true appearance and reflect it the way the eyes of other people do.

Our eyes “cut” the unnecessary details while looking at a person in real life, and this is why people around us see us in a more detailed way, while our image in a photo is changed by the details that are in the photo. And because of these details, our pictures may look unflattering even if we are beautiful in real life.

3. It depends on how other people see themselves too.

A recent study has found out that unattractive people overestimated their attractiveness when compared to strangers. The other side of the coin is that attractive people are usually unaware of their physical charm and underestimate it.

Another fact is that attractive people compare themselves to other attractive people, and unattractive people take their self-esteem from unattractive people. So, our vision of ourselves may be affected by the people around us, because of the way we compare our appearance to them.

4. You compare yourself unfairly.

Even though comparing might be a natural drive, in some cases, it triggers confidence and motivation, in others, it doesn’t help us. Comparing yourself means you are struggling with insecurities which can give you a different picture of your look or life.

5. Fear can cloud your perception.

Fear can intensify the perception. Anxiety can target your insecurities and heighten them and it will look like you are searching for threats. For example, if you are afraid that you are starting to show wrinkles even if you are young, you will probably notice them when you look in the mirror.

6. Changes in your lifestyle can affect the way you see yourself.

Mood swings, lack of sleep, hormone imbalance, poor diet, and other mental and physical changes or conditions might affect your self-perception. Let’s take low-energy for example. When you feel tired you probably don’t smile and this means you lack passion. So, because people are like mirrors and reflect what you project, you won’t be recognized as you see yourself.

Bonus: You can see your real you with a “true mirror.”

If you’re curious about how you look to other people and want to see yourself as others do, you need a second mirror to undo the effect of the first mirror and switch the directions back again. Surprisingly, this service is offered by some companies, and they suggest you look at yourself in a True Mirror.

First patented in 1887, the True Mirror uses a combination of 2 mirrors, placed at right angles. It forms a seamless, 3-dimensional, non-reversed image. People who’ve gotten a chance to look at themselves in a true mirror said that their experience was, “Like I am meeting myself for the first time.” That’s how radical the difference was in their appearance.

Would you like to see yourself in a true mirror? How differently do you look in photos?

Preview photo credit Afonso Lima / freeimages


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Yeah the mirror thing is so weird :D do you also get swapped around in pictures?


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