Attraction retraction

How to choose your photos for Internet dating sites.

Cartoon 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Cartoon 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Research shows that people view you as 20 percent more attractive than you view yourself (The Beauty Prescription, 2008). That’s a pretty big jump. The authors of this study – a pair of female doctors, one from Beverly Hills, one from South Beach – argue that individuals don’t take their personality into consideration when they look in the mirror, while those who look at you do. But unfortunately, when you’re trying to promote yourself via JDate or other Internet dating sites, you don’t get that extra 20% boost from your personality. And if you choose the wrong pictures on top of that, you will actually be losing attractiveness points.
JDate gives you the option to post 12 pictures and you should use at least four to your advantage, with a fifth and sixth as an added bonus. When you’re choosing your photos, try to look at them from other people’s perspective. If you saw your photo on a screen with eight other people’s photos, what would make you stop? Not that fuzzy out-of-focus photo or the one taken too far away to see your face or the one with three other people in it. Not the one in which you’re wearing a hat or sunglasses. And if you did click on that first photo, would it make you want to check out the second, third and fourth? Although the photo in your Halloween costume is cute, it should maybe be a supplemental photo while the one of you dressed-up for your friend’s wedding should be first.
Follow the four Fs when choosing your photos: Face; Full body; Fun; Friends and Family – in that order! Hook ’em with the face, reel ’em in with the full body and keep ’em interested with the fun photos and pictures of you with your friends and family.
The first picture, your profile picture, should be a close-up of your face. They say the eyes are the window to your soul, so make sure your eyes are clear and visible. If you have to use red-eye reduction then try to find a different picture. A smile can light up your face, so make sure the photo is a happy one. And don’t crop out your neck – a woman’s narrow neck automatically makes her appear graceful and swan-like; a man’s thick neck makes him appear strong and masculine. These gender traits are appealing to the opposite sex.
The second photo, the full body photo, should let people see you. The body type options you’re given can be easily misconstrued so even if you’re overweight or out-of-shape, show yourself. You wouldn’t want to go out with a floating head, would you? Your body type isn’t super important, but be proud of what you’ve got and flaunt it. Confidence is sexy. If you are packing a couple of extra pounds then select “athletic,” since that is a pretty generic term, and show a full-body picture of yourself to show proof.
Use that Halloween photo, beach photo, party photo or another photo showing you having fun for your third picture. This is not the place for your corporate business photo or extra copies of your passport photo. Uptight is downright wrong online.
If you want to use a photo of yourself with friends or family, the fourth photo is the appropriate place for that. JDate will use their magic powers to identify you and zoom in on you. Make sure you refer to the people in your photo later so people don’t think your brother is your ex-boyfriend or your nephew is your son. If you have a great circle of friends or are close to your family, then simply say so.
Photos 5 and 6 are where you can use that red-eye reduction photo, the one in the hat or wearing sunglasses, the one with your dog, or the zoomed-out photo of you rock-climbing. These photos are supplementary – the option is there to make you look better, not worse, and to show a little more of your personality through photographs showing you participating in the hobbies and activities you mention in your profile.
Changing your photos will also boost your JDate profile back to the top of the list and get you that cool little “New” or “Updated” logo next to your name. Don’t retract your photos too often, but if you take a break or need a refresher online, take the time to scroll through the past year or two of your photos and pick some new ones to post. Speaking of aging photographs, if a picture is more than two years old don’t use it in the first four photos. If you look pretty much the same (just two years younger) then use those photos to supplement, but not as one of your main four. Believe it or not, two years is long enough to be able to see the difference.
While we’re on the topic of aging – do not use airbrushed, color-corrected or edited photos. If you plan on meeting a JDate prospect someday then your freckles, wrinkles and sun spots will be on display for all to see. If you have a head shot because you’re an actor, businessperson or what-have-you then go ahead and use it as a supplemental photo. That’s fine, and is a photo supporting something that you refer to in your profile.
Photos should send a message. If a photo doesn’t serve a purpose and you don’t really like it very much anyway, delete it and find (or take) another. In this case, less is more – just not less than four.