When I was 16 I remember reading some sort of period Thomas Hardy style romantic novel. The two main characters exchanged letters for months, culminating in the Mr Darcy type guy asking for a picture of his beloved. Back then the option of a sexy selfie was off the table. You would have to go out, get a photographer, find yourself a nice frock and sit starting into a camera for an age whilst it composed a passing resemblance to your face.
These days we have it so easy. We have camera’s on our phones, our tablets and computers. A night often results in a flurry of tagged photos the next morning – granted not always ones you’d want to use in your romantic endeavours.
I’m always amazed therefore, at the truly awful pictures people select on their dating profiles. Granted, it is a hard thing to encapsulate everything that makes you a desirable partner in one little image but there are some definite no-no’s in the quest to be picture perfect.
1. Duck faced selfie
This type of photo makes me feel like I’ve travelled back in time whenever I see it. I half expect the MySpace logo to generate and some sort of My Chemical Romance lyric to caption the picture. Whilst this style of picture makes your face look slender and your lips look full and you feel a bit like a Kardashian taking it, no one actually likes it. You don’t look like that in reality, it’s dated and infantile and puts across that you are either a teenager or think you’re ‘down with the kids’. No one is doing duck face anymore, a smile is fine.
2. A random group
There is nothing worse than trying to suss out which of the people in a random group is ‘Tracy, 29 from Hull’. It could be the ultra glamorous brunette with the Fendi bag or it could be the one on the end with one shoe, a kebab in hand and blue mascara running down her face. Whilst you may feel safety in numbers, the gamble is just too great. Group pics with your friends are perfect for a Facebook profile, where everyone knows fine well who you are, but for a potential partner to have to search for you in a group it’s just a bit too much like hard work. Sadly, people are shallow and this type of photo can be immediately off putting.
3. A shirtless photo
I know that some people have beautiful bodies that they work hard for and far be it for me to be body shaming but there’s a time and place for those. If you look like a Calvin Klein model then that’s fantastic but save it for the first date. Don’t you want to be present for the reaction to someone seeing your body for the first time? More often than not these pictures are accompanied with sunglasses purchased on a beach in Tenerife and taken in the form of the dreaded mirror selfie, which leads me onto…
4. Bathroom mirror photos
You’re dressed, you’re ready for a night on the town, you check yourself in the mirror and think ‘God, I look amazing, I’m going to take a picture’. Stop right there! Take your picture, admire it, share it with your friends, make it a tiled wallpaper on your phone, look at it whenever you’re feeling don in the dumps and remember you can still crank it up to 11 when you need to. Please, please, please on behalf of the dating race do not use it for your dating page. A multitude of things go on in bathrooms for which you do not want connotations added to your cute or sexy picture. You poop in there. You have personal products around. Ladies – do you want some dreamboat being put off by your stash of tampons, birth control pills and Gerard Butler on the cover of a magazine shining back at your potential date in the mirror? Guys, do you want us seeing your Rogaine and the pink shower gel you love the smell of? No, it’s private bathroom stuff that should only be disclosed after 3 dates minimum. Have your bestie take your picture when you meet up with them, this passes as acceptable.
5. Bridesmaid or groomsmen pictures
So many people use these. It’s great you were your cousin Josh’s best man, you look lovely when you were a bridesmaid at Tricia’s wedding but when you use these pictures for a dating profile it gives a ‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ impression. If you put across that you go to weddings all the time, all your friends are getting married and having babies and you would love to be engaged it is just putting the cart before the horse. People will think you are a bit Monica Gellar and are going to rush them down the aisle way sooner than is sensible.
6. Misleading photos
Do you wear glasses? Do you have naturally curly hair? Crooked teeth? We all have little things about ourselves that we’d change given half the chance. The thing with choosing a dating profile picture is every aspect of you will be scrutinised in that first glancing impression and it’s all important so you want to put off good stuff. To show you the flaw in this plan I’ll tell you about my friend…we’ll call him Will because that’s his name.
Will spent many a year trawling through dating sites. As a product of the 90’s he loves a girl in a flannel with a severe fringe and a love of grunge music. He was therefore, thrilled to find a blunt fringed girl in a Nirvana shirt. They started chatting and minutes into the conversation he discovered her fringe was not, in fact a Betty Page but a Jessie J and she had bought the Nirvana shirt in Primark, not their tour of the UK in 1991.
My point is – if you love Dolly Parton then you wear that shirt like your life depended on it, if you have curly hair then bust out the straightens – if thats what you normally do. Don’t put on a lovely fake shine on yourself because you’ll never be able to keep it up. Be you. You’re cool.
7. Pictures with children
I won’t lie. I’m guilty of this one and I don’t even have children. I have cousins who are just the cutest squishiest little monsters you could ever see. I love having pictures of them and my phone and social media are full of them. This came back to bite me in the butt though when I went out with a guy and he said ‘So, how old are your kids?’. I took this immediately as ‘You have the body of someone who’s knocked out a few kids already’ and took offence but he was referring to my dating profile picture of me and 5 of my cousins.
If you have kids then fine, bring it up in conversation and share pictures with someone if the conversation progresses well. You might be a mum or dad but that’s not all you are. You have interests and experiences out with your children and that’s okay too. People are looking to date you, they want to see you.
8. Pictures without you
This might seem an obvious one but if you want someone to show interest in you, it’s initially going to be on physical attraction. For that reason it’s best you’re actually in the photo and it’s not of your car or your favourite celebrity. You might have a classic beautiful car but in the words of Shania Twain that don’t impress me much. Show us see your beautiful face.
9. Old pictures
You might have had an amazing hair day once in 2003 but that’s not what should be put on your dating profile because when you meet up with someone for drinks and they realise you’re actually 2 stone heavier and 13 years older than they expected, they’re going to wonder what else you’re hiding. It’s best to be honest from the get go and upload a recent photo. Yes, you might have a few more wrinkles now or a bit of a beer belly but being comfortable with who you are is one of the sexiest things you can be.
10. Snapchat screenshots
I love Snapchat. It’s great for funny moments, nights out, sharing your everyday experiences with the world. What I don’t love is seeing those recycled images with a black bar caption across the middle or a thousand butterflies dancing around your head.