If you belong to the shameful segment of society that’s never in their life taken a good selfie, you’ll take comfort in the news that it’s not about you, after all (well, okay, it’s a little bit about you).
According to new research published March 1 in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, the selfie-taker’s short distance from the camera “causes a distortion of the face owing to projection, most notably an increase in nasal dimensions.” The article cites the results of a poll by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, which revealed that 42 per cent of surgeons reported seeing patients who seek cosmetic procedures for improved selfies and photos on social media. Clearly, most people don’t realize the extent to which their features are skewed in their snaps of themselves.
The study’s co-author Boris Paskhover, a facial plastic surgeon, has apparently tired of telling patients they don’t actually look like they do in selfies. “I was always telling my patients, that’s not how you really look. I knew that selfies distort how your nose looks. And I wanted to prove it,” Paskhover told Live Science. And so, he teamed up with a computer scientist and created a mathematical model to convey, in quantitative terms, the distortive effects of selfies taken at varying camera angles and from a variety of distances.
They discovered that photos taken a roughly typical selfie distance of 12 inches from someone’s face can make their nose appear wider – by about 30 percent wider for men and 29 percent for women. They found, also, that the sweet spot for a flattering photo is a distance of five feet from a person’s face. When you consider that a typical selfie stick is in the ballpark of 30 inches, it’s clear that to capture your features most accurately, you need another human being to take the shot. Well, or a tripod. (The latter may detract from the air of spontaneity that selfie-takers – and particularly, social media selfie-posters – usually seem to be going for.)
Also important to remember: Just because your features – and namely your nose – look bigger in a selfie, doesn’t mean you don’t look good. Your dissatisfaction may mean that you, like most of us, have fallen prey to the Western industrial beauty complex’s insistence that smaller, typically European-looking features are the sole hallmark of beauty.
If this research gives you pause because you’ve simply seen (or taken; damn you) too many smoking hot selfies in your day, remember that the self-snap bears certain advantages that being photographed by another does not deliver, vanity-wise.
Either way, if you ever find yourself recoiling at the sight of own your reflection (when you forgot that the front facing camera was on), rest assured that you can totally blame science.