Before you get insulted by the title of this piece, we’d like to first compliment you on the choices you’ve made. You’ve taken the initiative to set up a profile, upload a photo, and put yourself out there, and that is no small feat. It takes gumption to be able to show the world who you are, and for that we give you kudos.
After all, this new world of online profiles isn’t exactly easy to navigate. Many people struggle with the amount of information they should put on their profile. Others wonder whether they should post a picture, and if so, which one? Should you post the photo that makes you look like an absolute 10, or the one that makes you look 10 pounds thinner?
We aren’t going to pull any punches here: how you look in your photo does matter. But not in the way you think. More often than not, your looks aren’t the deciding factor in whether or not you’re going to make a friend or score a date. What matters is what you are doing in your picture; in other words, how you present yourself to the world.
You may think it’s crazy, but it’s true: you don’t have to be the best-looking person on the site to meet people; you just have to represent yourself well. Check out the list below for examples of photos that you shouldn’t post under any circumstances.
Photo #1: You’re at a Bar Drinking with Your Friends
In an effort to come off as fun and well-liked, many people post pictures of themselves drinking at a bar with their friends. Big mistake. Pictures that show you drinking at a bar don’t make you look entertaining, fun, or special; they make you look like a barfly.
The snapshot may have been taken on the one night you go out all year, but the people on the other side of cyberspace don’t know that. What they see is that you like to go out drinking with your friends. That’s your priority. Something you do often. If that’s the persona you’d like to reflect, fine. But know that drinking has lost its luster for most people over a certain age.
Photo #2: You’ve Cut Out Your Ex
We’ve all been tempted to do it, but cutting your ex out of a picture and then posting it online is a bad idea for a number of reasons. For starters, every time you check out your profile and see that picture, you’re going to think of your ex. After all, he or she used to be standing right next to you! Second, in the age of digital photography, there’s no reason why you can’t easily take another picture where you look just as good. Or better!
If you absolutely must crop your ex out of a photo, do it right and cut him or her completely out of the picture. Don’t leave a big square in the middle where a face used to be.
Photo #3: You’re Standing Next to a Celebrity
Unless you’re good friends with Jennifer Aniston, there’s no reason why you should be standing next to her in your profile photo. Actually, even if you’re best friends with Jennifer Aniston, you probably shouldn’t be standing next to her in your profile photo.
This phenomenon is a little less common than the others, but it does happen. If you do happen to have a picture of yourself with a celebrity, don’t post it. It won’t make you look more important or more alluring. You’ll just look like a person standing next to a celebrity.
Photo #4: You’re Dressed as a Superhero
We get that some people really like to dress up in costumes even when it isn’t Halloween. There are many social events and social circles where this is accepted and encouraged, and more power to people who find their niche in the world. However, while your friends may understand your penchant for dressing like the original Superman at Comic-Con, most people perusing your profile won’t.
We aren’t suggesting that you make an effort to—excuse the pun—disguise who you are. In fact, any person who’s worth your time will delight in your quirkiness. But when you’re putting yourself out there, it’s best to save the fun photos for later on down the road.
Photo #5: You’re Posing with Something Expensive
To give the profile photograph some perspective, you’ve decided it would be a good idea to pose next to your brand-new luxury car. Surely no one will be able to resist someone who’s leaning against a BMW, right? Wrong.
When you pose next to one of your toys or stand in a way that shows off your Hermes bag, you come off as superficial. When it comes down to it, no one wants to be with someone who cares more about things than people.
There is a caveat, however: if your hobbies include tinkering with or collecting expensive toys, it’s okay to include them in your profile picture. Just make sure you are trying to represent you, not your net worth.