This Photography Lesson Unveils How Selfies Distort What We Think We Look Like Into Dysmorphia

This article may contain affiliate links, learn more.

We can be our own worst critics. While logically acknowledging that we’re all beautiful in our own way, it’s not always easy to see it and sometimes we get caught up fixating on our flaws and comparing ourselves to others. But what if all that is by no fault of their own and due to the camera lens itself?

Evey Winters, a Trans advocate and writer had enough. She wants everyone to understand that selfies are actually distorting how we see ourselves and it’s becoming such a big problem that it’s pushing people who should feel beautiful to get breast augmentations and change up their whole face just to match a face on a screen that’s lying to them. Here’s what she had to say.

Identity goes beyond looks. Unlock the messages hidden in your Personality Code now with your free personalized video report!

What Is Dysmorphia?

Evey Winters takes selfie in mirror

Evey Winters / Facebook

Evey Winters / Facebook

By clinical definition, body dysmorphia is a mental health disorder where a person can’t help thinking about their perceived flaws in their appearance. However, usually, that flaw is practically invisible to others and is amplified in that person’s head. The flaws get to their head and make them feel embarrassed and anxious in social situations.

Evey (pictured above) starts off her heartfelt Facebook post candidly: ” I have dysmorphia and recognize that in myself, but even if I didn’t, there’s not a selfie I’ve ever taken that would accurately help me make choices about my face. Mirrors are slightly better only for their minimal distortions.”

Seeing Through A Child’s Eye

little girl looking at aquarium

Bekah Russom / Unsplash

Bekah Russom / Unsplash

On a metaphorical level, we should take the stance of a child when we look at ourselves. Still innocent like blank slate, a child’s perception is not yet distorted by the expectations, standards, and conditions we impose on looks. But in the image below, an actual child is photographed. You might notice that in different photos this child’s eyes may appear to be slightly hooded.

Evey explains: “the nose appears enlarged disproportionately. Hairline seems to shift with every snap. So does jaw shape, face shape, and even the width and size of the ears.” So what does mean? Well, it’s what is triggering the dysphoria. Evey adds: “Your dysphoria may be responding to things that don’t exist, and might cause you to seek expensive and painful procedures that you not only don’t need but will never be able to deliver the results you want or might only deliver those results in your selfie cam.”

Look At How The Same Child Looks Different In Each Picture

Evey Winters / Facebook

Evey Winters / Facebook

Before we dive in deeper, let’s get something straight. Each camera has its own focal lens that influences what the picture will look like. Let’s say you have the latest, iPhone 13 pro max, the selfie you take on its camera cam is 23mm equivalent. Evey explains that this image will actually be even more distorted than the first image above which was photographed at 40mm.

Apparently, the iOS has a built-in warping mechanism that’s supposed to minimize this but is actually unreliable and doesn’t really work. Even if you try to use the back camera instead, the lenses still max out at 77mm equivalent. So the level distortion would be somewhere between the second and third photos you see here.


woman looks in handheld mirror to wipe the lipstick

Septian Simon / Unsplash

Septian Simon / Unsplash

There are many factors that will distort the end results of the selfie. One of them is distance. There’s a reason influencers always seem to get the perfect picture. They have mastered all the right angles and understand the optimal distance from which their picture should be taken. It’s not that they don’t look like this in real life, it’s that it’s a false representation that’s very curated and not realistic.

Evey further explains: ” A lot of this distortion is based on the distance from your subject. Many or most photos and videos of you are taken off-angle and might artificially make your head appear larger than your body and also longer than it would normally be. Distortions like this happen when the phone is not exactly level from your face.” To understand this, think of how you may look thinner if you stand further away from a slanted mirror.


woman takes selfie outdoor

Marcos Paulo / Unsplash

Marcos Paulo / Unsplash

Another big factor is lighting. We all look our best in the bright natural light of the outdoors on camera even if in reality this lighting exposes all of our perceived flaws. We even try to recreate the warm bright light of the sun indoors to get the perfect picture. This is because we tend to look more alive in soft warm lighting. There is actually a system to it as each kind of lighting will lead to a specific result:

“You are going to appear best in relatively soft/diffused lighting, probably warm-toned in color (though the photos above are cool tones which really makes the skin and eyes of the subject pop). Harsh fluorescent lighting from a strong angle (like directly above/in front of you) will artificially make your eyes appear deeper, highlighting creases and wrinkles, and so on. The reason ring lights are so popular is for their ability to provide adjustable, even light on a subject.”

There’s A Reason Photographers Are So Expensive

photographer man takes pictures in the street

Patricia Palma / Unsplash

Patricia Palma / Unsplash

Evey thinks that the only way to get an accurate representation of how you look is by hiring a skilled photographer that could take pictures at varying focal points but even then the representation will never be the same as the human vision. Plus realistically, no one is going to go out of their way to hire a professional photographer every time they want to take a picture. This would be expensive and unrealistic in its own way.

Keep in mind we’re not talking about professionally edited model shots, but rather the lens of a professional camera as it’s capable of capturing more detail ad accuracy than our selfie camera. And that’s before we put our selfies through the filters that populate all of our social media. Evey adds: “There’s a reason good photographers cost a lot of money to hire…. “

Ironically Snapchat May Lessen The Distortation.

You may think that Snapchat filters are worsening the problem and it’s true that some of them are so far off from reality that they create a completely distorted image, but Evey explains that Snapchat itself creates a more accurate representation of what you look like.

She explains: ” Your Snapchat filters are likely a more accurate approximation of your face shape, many actually adjust your features inwards to account for the distortion they know is there. So if you’ve ever found yourself more fond of your snap filters it’s because they often look more like you than your selfies will.”

You Exist Outside Of The Selfie

woman poses by photoshoot backdrop with lighting

Patricia Palm / Unsplash

Patricia Palm / Unsplash

Don’t fall into the trap of the selfie. Remember that one picture cannot possibly capture your entire essence and the multi-facets of your beauty. All those people you compare your selfie to are just a distorted representation that even they are getting lost in. Remember that pictures aren’t accurate representations.

As Evey puts it: “Cameras are not people. People don’t freeze frames of time for all eternity down to the pixel and automatically enhance certain features like the darkness of pores and fine lines in your skin. You’re a real human person and these lockdowns and extended isolations won’t last for eternity. Make sure you’re not reshaping your body for a you that only exists in selfie cams.”

Real Beauty Is On The Inside

woman hugs herself in with pruple dress on outdoors

De Andre Bush / Unsplash

De Andre Bush / Unsplash

Beauty is not just looks. The most beautiful people, in the way that we perceive them, are warm, inviting, and confident. Good people are beautiful people. A smile makes you beautiful. Feeling good makes you beautiful. It’s about who you are and how you represent yourself, not how a selfie represents you. Always look at how you feel and ask yourself: how do I make myself feel good? What makes me beautiful?

Beauty is more than makeup and fancy dresses t’s much more than that. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you love yourself what you need out of life, check out this personalized report based on date of birth.

Higher Perspectives Author

Higher Perspectives Author is one of the authors writing for Higher Perspectives