Flavor of the Week: How Girls Look Good in Pictures
Two summers ago, I went to Italy for ten days with my best friend and our mothers. Four Jewish girls in a foreign country will lead to one thing, and one thing only: male strippers. Just kidding, you know I was obviously going to say shitloads of pictures. Enough selfies to fulfill a New New Testament. Pictures with birds. Pictures with randos. Pictures of pasta. Pictures of us with alcohol. Pictures of bridges.
One night at a cozy dinner on the water in Venice, sipping limoncello after Vine-ing my meal of fresh fish (#tbt Vine), we got to talking about pictures. After all, when we weren’t taking them, we were looking through them, and when we weren’t looking through them, we were talking about them.
“I don’t understand,” I said, “how famous people manage to look so good in every picture they take.” We even spoke about people we knew from home who were not necessarily beautiful, yet effortlessly photogenic. I complained that I didn’t think to ‘work it’ when I took a photo, and I always look semi-goatish in candids.
My best friend’s mom answered flatly, “It’s not that anyone who looks good in pictures, or any celebrity, is necessarily that pretty. They just know what they have to do in order to look their best, and they do it every time.”
Of course, I was familiar with the notions of pointed cheekbones, protruding collarbones, and the classic skinny arm, but it was never something I thought of every time I said ‘cheese.’ I know which is my good side, but my stubborn friends rarely let me have it. Therefore, looking my best 10 out of 10 times I need to strike a pose had become a lost cause. Perhaps not lost, but definitely not something worth fighting for.
In a way, though, it maybe should be. Nothing sucks more than looking shitty in a photo where everyone else looks good. Or, better said, nothing is worse than ‘photo regret’ — when you realize that all you had to do was bend one knee that way, or tilt your chin in the other direction, or lead forward just a tad to have made you look #flawless.
Now, I try to be more conscious when taking a photo, which is kind of sad but is, nonetheless, a necessary evil. I mean, everyone else does it too, right?
If you’re like me and forget to make Snapchat your Marc Jacobs runway a la MBFW 14 (men, read as Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2014), here is a quick list of helpful reminders for looking your best in a photo:
1. Arms: Skinny arm (push shoulder forward/hand on hip/or, just face forward so arm width isn’t visible).
2. Smile/face: Sometimes my smile is kinda weird if my lips are dry. I think that’s why, at least. Lick your lips beforehand so that weird lower part of your top lip doesn’t get stuck to your gum. Doesn’t bother anyone else? Anyone? Anyone? …Bueller?
Recently, it’s become a thing to not smile with teeth, like, ever. It looks cute, but it also means you aren’t really smiling. Truth be told, you look cuter when you’re happy than you do when you’re fake-grinning. So you can take the route of smiling without teeth and tilting your chin up, though its trendiness does not, in my opinion, compensate for how unflattering it is on half of the people who do it. My preference is to smile really big and tilt my chin down a bit, so my cheekbones look nicer and you can see those pearly whites.
3. Legs: The most recent advances in making your legs look thin and your thigh gap wide is to stand with your legs very awkwardly shoulder-width apart and knees locked in (yes, people can see you doing that and it does look awkward). There is also the classic-lock one knee, rotate the opposite foot 45 degrees to the side. Or, keep both toes pointed forward and bend one knee forward as well. Oh wait, one more — toes together, heels apart. Choose your poison.
The sad thing is that most people who are not trained red carpet professionals look terrifyingly awkward in attempts to make these poses work. And then everyone begins to focus on your weird stance, your unnatural position, so much that the beauty you inevitably have gets minimized. A funny-looking picture is always better than an awkward one. I, like everyone else, enjoys a good flash of collarbone. But girls are very crazy, and girls are very ridiculous, and this is, unfortunately, very much the truth.
I find it difficult to remember to look good in pictures, though I’m more aware of it now than I used to be. But my legs are a lost cause anyway, so that’s one less thing to worry about.