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Things to remember after you see a photo of yourself that makes you feel down...

Have you ever had a friend or family member share a picture of you from a wedding, party, event, gathering and then felt really bad about yourself? Perhaps you scrutinise how your face looks in the picture, obsess over the size of your tummy or your thighs, or just can't get over how bad you think the outfit looks on you.

Many people can experience very poor mental health after seeing a photo of themselves. Seeing their body/appearance captured in a picture can trigger very negative thoughts about themselves and lower their self-esteem. So here are some important things to remember if you do have a negative reaction to a picture of yourself:

Camera angles , lighting and posing can make a HUGE difference

Even the most beautiful of person can take a very a unflattering picture if the camera angle is off or if they are caught in the wrong pose. You can pose holding your tummy in, or mid belly-laugh, you may look completely different to how you would look if a picture was very staged. Lighting can also make a big difference to how you look in a picture and it may just be that the lighting was off when the picture was taken. Just because you don't like how you look in THAT ONE picture, it doesn't mean that you didn't look great on that day.

Pictures you see online/compare yourself to, are often edited/filtered and don't represent reality

Often feeling bad about a picture of yourself comes from having just seen lots of pictures of people on social media/in magazines, that appear to be "perfect"/flawless. It is helpful to remember however that many pictures you see may be edited or filtered and may not truly represent reality. They may also be the "one good picture" of several hundred pictures taken - carefully chosen because the pose, angle and lighting is "just right". Comparing one shot of yourself against other people's pictures is therefore unhelpful.

Nobody is scrutinising your appearance in the way that you are (we are our own worst critics)

We tend to scrutinise our appearance far more than anyone else does. When we look at a picture of ourselves, we tend to focus on parts of our body and appearance that we don't like. However, when other people look at our pictures they are much more likely to notice our outfit and see us as a whole - rather than focusing on each and every tiny detail of our body and appearance. We are our own worst critics and probably nobody is being as harsh on you as you are.

A picture can't capture your laughter, your personality, your charisma, your joy etc.

A picture only captures your appearance in one moment. As we discussed, that picture could even be distorted based on the camera angle, lighting and what you were doing at the time the picture was taken. Also - pictures don't capture things such as, your energy, your personality, how you carry yourself, your charisma, your eye-contact, your laughter, your conversation, your jokes and so many other things that go into making you who you are. All of these things can hugely affect other people's perception of you (arguably even more than what you look like).

You will probably look back on this picture and think you looked great

Have you ever looked back at an old picture of yourself and realised that you actually looked great in the picture (even though at the time you had scrutinised your appearance and thought you looked awful). We never tend to really appreciate or celebrate what we look like at the time - but then far in the future, we often wish we looked like our past-selves.

A lot of people don't like pictures of themselves

Most people tend to be very critical of themselves and so it is very common/ normal even for people to dislike pictures of themselves or to feel bad about themselves after seeing a picture taken of them. This however can be shifted by cultivating self-compassion. If you had just seen a picture of your friend, your mum, your daughter or your brother - what would you say to them about their appearance and how they look in that picture or looked on that day?

If you would like some help in improving your self-image and self-esteem, please get in touch with us at to book in a free consultation.

“It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”

Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind


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