Since the advent of digital photography, airbrushed photographs are no longer only available to models and professional photographers. With a copy of Photoshop and a few online tutorials, almost anyone can reshape a nose, whiten teeth, or remove blemishes. Some people even go so far as to smooth out double chins or slim limbs in snapshots. But should online daters take advantage of this technology? After all, "perfect" pictures could translate into more messages and first dates than shots straight out of the camera, right? Maybe, but it's probably not worth it.
How it can backfire: In an interview with SmartMoney's Quentin Fottrell, Vicky Oliver, author of The Millionaire’s Handbook, advises daters against going too far with the Photoshopping. Though digitally enhanced pictures might glean your average online dater a few more dates, the people you meet are likely to feel a bit deceived. No one wants to show up for a date and find someone who looks radically different than expected, and having fairly accurate pictures decreases the odds of disappointment for everyone involved. Though you might snag a first date on the basis of great pictures, if you're trying to build a relationship, starting with deception is a bad plan, and unlikely to yield more than that first date.
The truth about online dating photos: That said, inaccurate pictures, whether old, professionally retouched, or just plain flattering, are very common in the world of online dating. A 2009 study from Cornell University found that as many as 1/3 of online daters post inaccurate or misleading photos. Other research suggests that photo aren't the only place people tend to exaggerate their appeal. Many people lie about their height by an inch or two and tack on 10-20% when asked to estimate their income for dating profiles.
So how to deal with this in your own profile? Our advice is to keep your profile as honest as possible. You can check out this previous blog post for a few more specific suggestions, but in general we recommend that people choose recent, accurate pictures and portray themselves accurately in their online dating profiles. Of course you'll want to pick a flattering shot, but be sure other daters get a realistic idea of what you look like so they can recognize you when you meet and won't feel you've intentionally misled them. If you want to use Photoshop to tweak lighting or exposure, go ahead, but save the bigger enhancements for another time.
Looking for more online dating tips and tricks? Check out our FAQ section and the online dating comparison chart for more information. You can also leave us a question or a comment in the comment fields below.
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