How My Friends See Me Versus How I See Me

How My Friends See Me vs. How I See Me.png

A constant argument that I’ve had with virtually every close friend of mine occurs whenever I love a photo of them that they hate, or vice versa. I once posted a picture I loved of a friend on Facebook, and she rang me within five minutes to demand I take it down. I decided to explore the difference between how we see ourselves and how others in our lives see us, so I sent a series of pictures of myself to various people. Here are my responses to the photos, followed by their responses.

Picture 1

Pic 1.jpg

Me: I hate this picture, although I love my outfit. I was ranting to a friend about someone who had annoyed me while I took it, and all I can see as I look at it is my angry expression mid-yell.

University flatmate: In my honest opinion, I feel like this photo looks very staged, unnatural, and somewhat gormless. The fact that this photo appears staged makes my impression of you seem somewhat awkward and unapproachable. That said, what you’re wearing suits you, and your hair looks great here.

Childhood friend: Boss gal. Full of attitude: I love your hair in this, and your face is like "Ugh, do I have to?" which I rate; very Cher in Clueless. I get the impression that you don't want time-wasters.

Ex-boyfriend: Posing—bit surprised by something? Interesting background with the reflection of the conservatory.

University colleague: Here I see a fancy Rachael whose expression is a bit bored or annoyed. Maybe the photo was taken exactly in that moment where somebody told you bullshits, maybe your idea was pretending to have this look which is quite popular on social media. Many people would say this could appear as a superficial or nasty indeed cause they rather like smiley faces. Honestly, I don’t recognise Rachael here as far as I know.

Fellow Make Muse writers:

1) My first reaction here is that I love your bag and that your eye makeup is really striking.

2) She seems like a cool girl, probably rolling her eyes at some ignorant/sexist comment. She seems like an artsy girl, really into fashion.

Picture 2

Pic 2.jpg

Me: Angle wise and with regard to my make up, I love this, but I always struggle with photos taken from straight on. I also feel like my lips look really strange here, almost oddly full.

University flatmate: This is so lovely! You seem so friendly here and give off a warm, approachable personality. I believe it accurately reflects your sense of style and attitude towards makeup styles that are often bolder than most. Resting your hand on your chin also gives off an element of confidence and self assurance that immediately improves this photo.

Childhood friend: Inevitable shot of personality comes through here from your eyes, lips, and the bow on the new haircut. It's very pixie, very cartoon girl (in a spunky, Powerpuff, here to take no shit kind of way). I'm not keen on the pose thing—it's a very cute selfie, and your eyes are to die for, but I'm always endeared more naturally to big candid smiles and laughs.

Ex-boyfriend: Happy, cool makeup, bow is the cherry on top.

University colleague: A lot of eyeliner that changes your expression, making it a bit more self-confident and therefore is not ashamed anymore to look straight into the camera. I like it, too, although many people perceive too much makeup as a negative.

Fellow Make Muse writers:

1) My impression of this one is that you seem really content and confident.

2) She seems like a cool alternative/rock girl. She’s bold and not afraid to make a statement with her makeup. She’s creative and artistic, and she looks like she’s about to go to a concert.

Picture 3

Pic 3.jpg

Me: I love this photo because I think it really captures a moment that I remember so well. I never get to see my old flatmates enough, and I spam-shot a whole load of selfies while they were visiting me. We all look happy, and it seems like a real, candid moment.

University flatmate: My first thought was “this is awful.” The angle really does nothing for you at all, I’m afraid, and almost sells you as one of those people that don’t understand good angles.

Childhood friend: Now I know this is from below, but your features look great, honestly! What bone structure! It's just a lovely, candid half-smile, chilling with friends—I find it super appealing.

Ex-boyfriend: Offhand photo with mates, much more natural, sightseer.

University colleague: A typical selfie with friends visiting, where Rachael is happy and smiley, and the pic is very spontaneous.

Fellow Make Muse writers:

1) You look really happy here!

2) All the girls in the pictures seem excited to be traveling. The monument in the background suggests that the girl in the picture likes to travel, she’s easy-going and is not afraid to be in charge, as she’s the one taking the picture.

Picture 4

Pic 4.jpg

Me: I really dislike this angle of me and feel it looks very forced. Classic example of me liking how I look but trying too hard with a selfie.

University flatmate: This doesn’t even look like you at all. I feel like there’s this peculiar, “try-hard” attitude behind this photo that makes you seem somewhat stuck up. I don’t think your hair looks great there, looks a bit of a mess if I’m honest. The whole photo just seems a bit fake.

Childhood friend: Cute and friendly. Pretty girl and pretty features—I'd like it on Facebook. But nothing dramatically candid or eye-catching. Just a real cute selfie.

Ex-boyfriend: Natural selfie, showing off your room? Comfortable clothes.

University colleague: Less makeup, quite a natural look like the selfie of "I just got up"—I perceive you as the person who is simply making herself a selfie to share to some friends, so not showing off or anything like that.

Fellow Make Muse writers:

1) Thinking that your skins looks really smooth haha.

2) This girl is feeling herself. She’s probably in her room, comfy and feeling pretty. This picture isn’t as telling as the other ones.

Picture 5

Pic 5.jpg

Me: One of my favourite pictures of me ever. My hair is my favourite colour it’s ever been, I had just bought the new top, and I like that it’s naturally caught me mid-laugh.

University flatmate: This is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Your expression here so aptly reflects your rainbow T-shirt—almost as if you’ve just seen a crowd of baby ducks coming out of the lake behind you and immediately smile with cuteness overload. Of all the photos, I think this one is the best reflection of you.

Childhood friend: This is my fave by a mile. It's you, it's authentic, and the smile is so infectious and warm.

Ex-boyfriend: I like that lake, that’s a nice lake. Chilling on a sunny day.

University colleague: I see a natural Rachael who wants to pretend not to have made a planned photo by watching in the other direction. But with a shy sweet smile that I do like.

Fellow Make Muse writers:

1) I'm wondering what made you smile here—it kind of seems like you're laughing, too.

2) This girl seems so happy and in the moment. She’s having a great day and is not afraid to laugh when her picture is taken. She’s sweet.

Picture 6

Pic 6.jpg

Me: I really like this image because it’s one of the few full-body ones that I feel comfortable with. My legs look long, and even though I’m pale, there is some warmth from the colour of the dress. Weirdly, I hated it as it was taken, but looking back I rate it well.

University flatmate: I’m slightly concerned as to why this wasn’t already in your deleted folder!!!! Absolutely terrible... that’s all I have to say, if I’m honest. Delete ASAP.

Childhood friend: Real and strong and true shot—I love that your arms and legs are in proportion—it's not a 'classic gal' shot from above. It's not completely candid; your arms look a little awkward to me. But it's pale gal appreciation, so I admire.

Ex-boyfriend: Curious, matching hair and dress combo.

University colleague: [This] is the one I like more. Plain style and converse, without too many details, summer colours, and I get the impression of a shy personality, somebody that doesn’t want to put the focus on her face.

Fellow Make Muse writers:

1) Impression is that I love your dress.

2) In this picture she’s not afraid to show her body. She’s lounging and taking in the scenery. She’s not trying to hide and feels comfortable in herself.

The results of this certainly did surprise me. My university flatmate is probably my most honest critic who I always relied on to tell it to me straight. However, we differed in our opinions drastically here. It especially made me laugh that he vehemently hated one of my favourite photos. On the other hand, I almost unanimously agreed with my childhood friend on every photo. This suggests the impact of upbringing and shared experience on our body image perceptions. I have far more in common in that sense with my friend from childhood, whereas my male flatmate who grew up on the opposite side of the country from me had very different opinions. This gendered and social difference seems to have made an impact perhaps.

The most interesting ones for me to read were those from people who I don’t know as well or for as long. They made observations about my personality based on information from the images, unlike my ex-boyfriend or close friends. I think this shows our society’s visual emphasis and ability to make judgements, even positive ones, based on appearance. Yet what was even more surprising was how their takes on my emotion or personality were actually correct. One of my university colleagues accurately judged that I loved how I looked in the Picture 4 even if it didn’t come out that well, which no one else picked up on.

Ultimately, the range of opinions and differences between my perspective and other people’s is telling. If so many people can take away so many different things from the same pictures, it just shows once again how subjective beauty and aesthetics can be. I will certainly be remembering these individual responses next time I waver on whether to post a picture I love on social media. At the end of the day, everyone’s opinion should be their own.


Author: Rachael Davies