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Why Do I Look Better In A Mirror Than I Do In Pictures ?

Come on, you’ve been there.

You see a picture of yourself and you just know that something is off and you feel like you don’t look your best.

But then you look in the mirror and you think you look fine.

You think ‘Is the mirror or camera more accurate?’…

So, why is that?

Why do your friends think you look fine in pictures when you think you just don’t look the best.

And why is it that we can look fine in a mirror, but when you take a picture something just doesn’t seem right. 

Well to understand this first we need to know what you are seeing in a mirror when you see yourself. 

What Do We See In A Mirror?

Without getting into too much physics or any technical jargon, what we see in a mirror is an image of ourselves which is made up of light rays that have been reflected from the mirror into your eyes. 

If we stand facing a mirror that is facing directly back at us then we will see a reflection of ourselves which is reversed on the horizontal plane, but the same from top to bottom(you’re the right way up).

Everything is flipped from left to right, but not top to bottom.

Why Do I Look Better In A Mirror Than I Do In Pictures ? 

So if you move your left hand to your left, then your reflection will be moving its right hand to its right – everything is flipped horizontally. 

This is also why you can’t read a book in a mirror because all the text is reversed. 

Bare in mind that we are ignoring different types of surfaces like the curved surface of a spoon or other curved mirrors.

We are just considering the standard flat surfaced mirrors like this one that you might have at home on doors, cupboards and walls etc. 

What Do You See In A Picture From A Camera?

In a picture of yourself the image is not mirrored.

If we ignore other aspects like lenses and lighting etc. and just focus on the image dimensions and proportions, a camera will capture what your friends and family see on an everyday basis. 

So if you have a scar on your right cheek then the image of you should show a scar on your right cheek. 

Do I Look Like The Mirror Reflection Or Camera Picture? Which Is More Accurate?

So now that you know that your image is reversed from side to side in a mirror. Which is more accurate? 

Well this depends on who you ask…

If you consider yourself, what you see in the mirror is probably the most accurate image of you because it is what you see everyday – unless you see yourself in photos more than in mirrors. 

On the other hand, all of your friends and family will be used to seeing you in real life which is a version of you which isn’t mirrored.

Since they see you in this way most of the time, for them what you see in pictures is the most accurate interpretation of you. 

But how does this explain that feeling of not looking as good on camera?…

Why Do I Look Worse On Camera?

In photographs or videos you are seeing a version of yourself that you are not used to seeing in the mirror. 

A reason that you feel as though you don’t look as attractive on camera is to do with what we explained above.

Since you are used to seeing yourself in a mirror you are used to a different image of yourself than what you see in a picture from a camera. 

This phenomenon can be described by the mere-exposure effect where we take a preference to things which we are used to.

Otherwise known as the familiarity principle, this effect means that the more familiar something is to us , the more we take a liking to it. 

Your reflection is an example of the above. You are more used to seeing your reflection in a mirror than you are seeing yourself in pictures.

Unless you have thousands of pictures of yourself and don’t have any mirrors. 

On the other hand, if you consider your friends suggesting you look fine in a picture it could be because you look just as you normally do to them.

But if they looked in a mirror they might think that you don’t look your best (but hopefully they wouldn’t say that!).

This is because they would be seeing a mirrored image of you which they wouldn’t normally see as much.

To sum it up, sometimes you don’t feel like you look as good on camera because something just isn’t right and that is because in your mind’s eye something really isn’t right.

How Can I Look The Same In A Mirror And In Pictures?

The only way you could look the same in a mirror and in pictures is if you were completely symmetrical.

Unfortunately, nobody is completely symmetrical.

Just get out there and take pictures of yourself and know that your friends and family REALLY do think you look fine and try not to worry too much.

You look fine! (to everyone else). 

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