Thursday, June 21, 2012


Our brains are funny things -- they operate on several levels at once and often what's happening beneath the surface overrules what's occurring in our conscious mind.  This phenomenon is frequently triggered by visual imagery.

In photographs, a two-dimensional representation of reality is created.  Consciously, we know the image can be and often is a distortion of the actual object being portrayed -- but our eyes see something which our brains process as reality.  As a result, we believe the image in the photograph to be accurate even though, if we think about it, we know the photo is prone to distortion.

I bring this up to explain two things.  First, why I'm not as pretty as I look in pictures and, second, why some women I've meet recently are MUCH better looking in person than they are on their blogs.

I'm often surprised at how not-awful I can look in photographs, especially when I'm presenting as female.  In reality, I know I'm average in appearance.  When I try to create a feminine look, my appearance plummets further.  I lack a traditionally female-shaped body to work with.  I'm trying to make an omelette without eggs.

For example, I have no curves.  None.  I'm a cylinder.  My measurements are identical for my bust, waist and hips.  With smart fashion-choices I can create an illusion of an hourglass figure, but it is merely a deception.  Similarly, my torso is large so I photograph myself from the front and not the side, to conceal the obvious.  Over time, I've learned how to take pictures of my body that are flattering and to avoid poses that look terrible.

The truth is that images I create with photography are not accurate representations of my reality.  I look better on my blog than I do in real-life.  I accept that.

I've been shocked by the converse.  I've met three female bloggers who are stunning beauties in real-life.  On their blogs, they are attractive but the pictures there don't do them justice.  The photos fail to convey their extraordinary beauty.  I'm not exaggerating -- these women are drop-dead gorgeous by anyone's standard.  (I'm talking about you TracyLorena and Audi.)

Contemplating how this can be, I see that the 3-dimensions of their actual self are marvelously harmonious with nature whereas 2-dimensional pictoral representations of them fail to fully convey how they actually appear.  Photographs flatten their facial features and distort away their incredible beauty.

The point of this post is -- distortion works both ways.  When we view a blog, we're seeing a piece of the blogger but not the full picture.  In person, that individual may be much more (or less) physically attractive than we think.

I know most of us aren't looking at blogs to see how pretty others are, but this observation is worth making because we can be misled by what we see with our eyes, at least online.

Do you think pictures of you capture your actual appearance?


  1. Oh man. This is very interesting. I don't see myself as particularly attractive. And seeing my pictures that I post on my blog always make me feel a bit sick at my stomach. I mean, sometimes, I think, "Oh, that's not a bad photo." haha.

    To hear you say such sweet things about how I appear to you warms my heart. I blushed. You are way too kind and I just love you to bits for it. Thank you so much.

    A lot of people say I'm animated in person. Still photos can't possibly capture that. Maybe that's the difference?

    I love how you put yourself out there in your photos. You are a beautiful woman and a very shy, sweet and wonderful man. I just think it's a fantastic duo.

    Thanks again and I adore you!


    1. The feeling's mutual, dear. And, yes, you are incredibly charming in person, apart from your beauty. You light up a room with your energy and enthusiasm.

  2. I stopped fashion blogging because of my pictures! Looking in the mirror thinking I look decent, taking pictures, and having them all look like shit was really hard on my self confidence (which I've always lacked; I was a pretty ugly little kid around 8-13 and never really got over that mentality). No matter who takes the pictures, everything that could go wrong goes wrong. I've always thought I looked better IRL, and that's the consensus I've reached from every single person I've asked.

    (The only pictures I like of myself, oddly enough, are ones taken with Photo Booth on my Mac!)

    The Tall Blonde Artist

  3. I am completely un-photogenic! I'm rarely satisfied with photos of myself and have, through blogging, learned to just accept that I don't often translate well to still images. (When I do find a good one though, I hang on to it. I've been known to keep the same Facebook profile photo for a year!)

    As for your figure...I have a friend who's a drag queen, and she's really good at giving herself a feminine figure with some well-placed padding. Have you considered buying a bra and using "cutlets" (boob enhancers, basically) or other padding? Also, a corset or Spanx will do wonders to cinch in a waistline.

    If you need help with figuring out a bra size, email me and I'll give you some pointers to avoid awkward department-store measurements :)

  4. My pictures are definitely a well-edited version of my self. I do not think I look as good as I do in my blog photos. I don't photoshop any of them, but I also don't pick the unflattering pose or the weird shadows or the bad light.

    I don't have good skin, despite many commenters saying otherwise. I've got acne. I don't wear make-up to cover it. I don't have as much of a shape as I'm sure I look on the blog. I'm slight, but I use clothing to create exaggerated hour-glass shapes.

    I've only met one blogger in real life, and I think she is beautiful. I got to learn meeting her face to face just how little doesn't get communicated through pictures.

    Photos also don't factor in our minutiae. Voice, language, expressions, movement. It's all so integral to who we are and that often doesn't come across on the blog.

    I think you're a very good looking person, Ally. No matter what you wear, suit or dress. I think you have an infectious smile. Your kindness and big heart show on your face.

  5. I've never been a particularly self aware person but looking at photos of myself constantly has made me a lot more aware of what I look like, when I look good, and what I want other people to think when they look at me.
    I think 'blogger fashion' just shows how hard photography & modeling actually are. It's really hard to capture a person's beauty & personality in a photo.

  6. A wonderful observation and insight! I think that's part of the fun of this online community... you kind of don't really know someone by their pictures alone, sometimes even by the combination of pictures and their writing. I really enjoy finding a way to present myself more accurately to who I see myself to be by how I choose to phrase my comments and responses. It's still not who I am, maybe it's a more bold and "talkative" version of myself. But I know I look mousy in my photos, I'm not a wallflower in real life, but I'm by no means an extrovert... it's a wonderfully complex dichotomy of who we are.
    That said, you're just so lovely. I say that almost every time I comment. You're conscientious of presenting yourself so elegantly, but to me your thoughts and your writing verbally express more about what your beautiful grin and sparking eyes are already saying. You're giving, kind, encouraging, thoughtful, beautiful. I SEE that in your photos and it's so obvious that that's just the tip of the iceberg of your charm.

  7. Very thought provoking post.

    I struggle with feeling bad about my looks all the time. I seldom post my photo on my own blog without a helmet on - because i cringe when i see the photos.

    I often say to my hubby - "Oh, God - is that REALLY what I look like? It's amazing I have any friends" :D

    I'm trying to work on it, though.

    One thing that can never come across is that special twinkle, that spark of spirit that some people have when you meet them in person. Some people have the power to light up a room and bring happiness with them. That is part of their allure, part of their beauty. Pictures cannot capture that.

    Physical beauty is an illusion. Present your best self by any means necessary! :oD

    1. Buddy, I think you're beautiful, both on the inside and the outside. And I say this impartially, beyond the fact that I adore you.

  8. This coming week I will attend a blogger get-together for the first time and I'm very nervous about it, because, like you, I suspect that I look better on the blog than I do in real life. You are correct that pictures can be manipulated. When you might these bloggers in real life, how do you choose to present?

    1. When I've met bloggers in person, it's always been in public. For that reason and to make them comfortable, I always present as male. I want people to get used to me before springing something odd on them.

      Good luck with your get-together. I'm sure you'll have fun.

  9. I 100% agree, It's so funny that you brought this up, I always tell my husband that I probably look better on the blog than in person.

    Xo Megan

  10. This is such an interesting idea! What about videos? Many times, I don't think photos look like me. But I recently started recording videos for my blog, and I can say, "Yes! That looks like me now!"

    Maybe it's the movement? The sense of depth? The facial expressions that aren't a static smile?

    1. Good point, Sage. I think you're right. In videos, we move ourselves and that movement conveys depth of field which gives our brains the ability to create 3-D perception. The person in the video appears much more accurately.

  11. I'm totally uglier in person than in pictures. I have a shitty side profile. That's why I avoid pictures from that angle. There's a ton of deception lurking online. I wouldn't say it's good or bad, it just is. I think our personalities are part of our appearance, too. Like, part of what makes Tracy so damn gorgeous is her animated personality (not that she'd be ugly if she were a stone cold bitch, but you know). I've met quite a few people that I've originally known online (whether it be blogger buddies or, for example, someone I was introduced to by mutual friends but Facebook stalked before we met). In most cases, I haven't been totally shocked by their actual, real life self, but it's fun to see everyone's little quirks that can't be conveyed online.

    Also, I have a feeling you're more than average in appearance. And I think as your time dressing in women's clothes goes on, you'll learn A) how to mask the parts of your body that bother you even more, and B) to simply not give a rip. I think body insecurity is something that nearly every woman (and many men) goes through at some point in her life. While insecurity is never completely gone, I think that many grow out of it or simply detach themselves. I remember hating just about everything about my body. I had linebacker shoulders, wanted more visible collarbones, had absolutely no waist, had a gut, had no hips, had monster thighs...and so on. I think I've changed the appearance of some of these things through exercise, but still, I'm NEVER going to have smaller shoulders or a 20" waist or skinny thighs. And that's okay!

    ...I also remember hiding from any cameras like the plague around this time. If someone had taken a few shots I was in, I'd ask to see their camera and would delete all the ones I looked bad in. Yeah, I was that asshole. But now look at me!

    1. Good feedback. Thanks for it and the compliment.

  12. I couldn't agree more. I always tell my readers, don't believe my pictures ... Not that I am hideous looking, but the pictures often look better than the reality.

    ∞ © ∞

  13. Some people are photogenic and have the ability to know what their best angle is and take advantage of it- others will look amazing without any tricks.
    Pictures are just one side of a person, there's the voice, the contact, the life in the eyes, the soul, spirit... and then there is something else that you cannot even put your finger on - but you sense it.
    I've had the pleasure of meeting you and to me, you exude peacefulness and kindness.
    Both of which i wish i had more of :) You care, you are a good listener, are courageous, productive, stop to look and enjoy the small things. You appreciate family, relationships and friends. Maybe you don't have a defined waist but you have enviable legs. You have your own style, which is so much put together and feminine than most of the women I come across everyday.
    And I got all of this after meeting you.
    So, I agree - getting the "full picture" makes a difference.
    Oh and thank you
    I am speechless and so very flattered Ally.
    This is the nicest compliment I have received in a while :)

  14. Hey!!! I 've been having trouble posting...and everytime I write a post it goes off into internet ether... I hope this one work.
    I havent been commenting but I have been reading all your posts!! I miss ya!! and I LOVE the new outfit you got from Lyne and megan.. it looks amazing on you and I love all the jewelry too, all of it is just perfect for you!!
    hope you have a super weekend!! mwah xox J

  15. Lord, I hope not. I always look like a huge dork in pictures. I've always wanted to think I look better in real life, but who knows. You were in man-mode when we met and I thought you looked handsome. As I have aged, I have come to realize that the nicer one "looks" on the inside, the more attractive they appear on the outside. Even drop-dead gorgeous people can look ugly as sin when their real, nasty soul shines through. I could never do a fashion blog. Even if I did have an iota of fashion sense, I could never look at myself in that many pictures.

  16. You write great posts!! And I am there with you - I take better pictures, and sometimes I am really afraid of meeting my blogger friends in person! LOL!! But the pictures are only a part of who I am or who anybody is- it is what we are as a human that gives dimension to our 2D blog pics- and you my friend are a beautiful soul - photogenic to boot:-) Hope you are having a wonderful day!
    Style-Delights Blog

  17. I'm terribly unphotogenic, so I'm glad to see that you think I look better in person! I don't think of myself as being particularly beautiful, but I have an outgoing personality that I think makes up for a lot. To me, much of a person's attractiveness comes from personality. As another commenter noted, a lot of your qualities come through in the way you write, but certainly not all. Despite what you think of yourself, you are in fact much more attractive in person. Beauty in a person isn't a static thing; it requires movement, and elements that are visual at all. None of that can come through in a photo.

  18. I think I think my pictures are much better than I am in person! I agree that there are many parts to beauty, and character and personality are equally important as looks. A great personality makes anyone more attractive to me.

  19. Aha, so I'm NOT crazy!

    I've always avoided taking photos, because no matter how professional or nice the rest of it is, when I see my face in photos, I kind of want to cry a little bit, because they're so awful. Though I'm no beauty, I'm certainly much better-looking in real life than in photos, haha.