Why do mirror reflection and photo images of ourselves look so different? Which one more accurately depicts how others see you?


Why do mirror reflection and photo images of ourselves look so different? Which one more accurately depicts how others see you?

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our faces are not perfectly symmetrical; there are subtle differences on either side that are noticeable when an image is flipped. the image taken by a regular camera or the back camera of your phone is how others see you, while the image you see in a mirror or using your phone’s front camera (unless you’ve fiddled with the settings) is what you’re used to seeing. the unmirrored image looks strange to you because you’re only able to see yourself in a mirror, so that is the image you’ve become accustomed to, even though it isn’t accurate to how others see you.

The photo is how other people really see you. In a mirror it is flipped. In the mirror, your left side is on the left side of the mirror. But if you are facing someone, the left side of your body is on their right side.

Photo cameras can distort how you appear. Most phone cameras have very wide lenses, which will give you a fish eye-like effect if you put it too close to you. It appears fine if you take photos from a distance, though. Around 50 mm lenses would make you appear “normal”, which many phone cameras don’t have. 50mm is what portrait photos are usually shot at.

Yes, there are some subtle differences in facial proportions between a mirror and a camera lenses because of focal distance, but that’s not what you’re asking about.

No one’s face is perfectly symmetrical. In fact if you take half of a person’s face, copy and flip it, and stick it together to be perfect in Photoshop, our brain rebels and finds it super creepy and ugly.

By looking at yourself over and over in the mirror, your brain has gotten used to your asymmetries in a certain configuration. When you see them flipped by a camera, it’s “new” to your brain again and so looks weird / unattractive.

However, realize other people’s brains have *also* gotten used to the flipped camera you, the same way your brain has gotten used to the mirror you. If they saw mirror you, they would think it looks equally weird to them as camera you looks to you.

So camera you is what people actually see, physically. But mirror you is closer to how people actually “see” you, attractiveness-wise.

Cameras are very different than a mirror. Imagine looking at a picture of someone versus meeting them in person.

It’s an approximation of the human eye. Depth of field can be very different, the colors could be off, and lighting and shutter speed can make a big difference in the final image. Not to mention the total lack of body language.