I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but it is amazing how much we "judge" based on a picture. This week we are talking about Self-Portraits on The Love Project, so I wanted to talk about the impressions we give and get, sometimes without even knowing it.
I've become a guest blogger for Pick The Brain (a site I really love about self-improvement.) Today they posted the article I wrote entitled: Three Free Sexy Secrets and one of those secrets was "a genuine smile."
Now, it is a nice little perk for me that Pick The Brain picks out the photo to go with the article (I'm quite lazy about that) and any good blogger knows that posts with photos get more traffic. (Once again, photos are an important differentiator in the world of social media.) But, the photo they picked was a closeup of two lips kissing. The first person who commented said:
"Good topic, bad picture – a little moist, no?"
Yup! I'm a little embarrassed to promote that article because I don't want people to think I picked out that picture.
Sexy stuff is what "sells" -- or so they say. More people will click through on blog posts if they see the word "sexy" or see the hint of a sexy picture. My whole point of that article, though, was that what is "sexy" (at least to me) is a genuine smile of a regular person... not two wet lips getting ready to kiss.
In the book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the impressions we make, often without even knowing we are making them. When I see a public self-portrait of someone in an I'm-trying-to-look-sexy pose, I usually think, "They're kinda full of themselves." This is especially true if the context is an online-dating photo. There was one guy who's profile had a bunch of shirtless photos of him doing various exercises. Now true... he had a good-looking body and maybe some women would be impressed, but good body or not, publicly showing it off gave me the impression that this guy was self-centered. I would much rather date a humble, genuine guy with a few extra pounds than someone who is checking himself out in the mirror every 10 minutes
Of course, our first impressions might be wrong. I actually met this guy, and he didn't seem nearly as arrogant as I'd pegged him to be. We didn't end up dating, but I was glad I met him and to know that my quick judgment was not entirely accurate.
I've struggled with kind of a similar issue regarding my book, "The Laptop Dancer Diaries." I've had varied reactions from the title and the cover (designed by my daughter.) The title, of course, is a play on words, combining laptop and lap dancers. So people may think the book is about cyber sex or perhaps the diary of a stripper. I've worried about that because it's really about a woman who is abnormally close to her laptop (ie "geek") trying to be sexy. The review I got that I thought was most accurate was "Erma Bombeck meets Sex and the City." And while I often worry that readers will be disappointed when they find out the book is not all that "sexy," I'm always so flattered to get kind reviews such as this one.
In any case, whether we're talking about book covers, titles or photos, like it or not, we do judge, often without even knowing it. We are attracted to sexy. But sexy can mean different things to different people. For me, it's a smile. What is it for you?