Does My Picture Change Your Opinion?

Often the appeal of the blogger comes from their anonymity.
We, as readers, are free to imagine the writer to be anybody we please. A young girl? An older woman? A boy who keeps his blog secret from his football mates? Envisioned as always smarter, funnier, wiser, prettier than us – why else would we be spending time reading their thoughts, after all?

Depending on the formality of the posts we can generally ascertain the gender, sometimes the age. Teenage girls are often easy to pick out, and older men are visible in particular to us younger ladies – sorry, guys! The modes of language, the vernacular used – determining not only age but place within the world – the level of openness in the memories provided, the topics chosen. From these we can establish who is behind the computer screen typing what we read, almost like psychic ability, or innate instinct at times.

Those pages that lead instincts astray, making us picture somebody else, give quite the surprise when the reader gives themselves away one day. I could have sworn I was following a girl in her early twenties only to discover she was in her early forties. Twenty years older in a simple admittance of age! Her topics, speech, and lifestyle were similar to mine, (an actual woman in my early twenties) so I assumed we were the same age and at the same stages because I was in fact, further in life in terms of relationships. This became a completely absurd truth to absorb once I knew her age. Really? You’re sure you’re older? And yes, I feel a right peanut for admitting I thought I was more advanced in the relationship area.

I used to provide a photo of myself in the top banner of my page until I realised I’m not famous and don’t need one. In fact I looked kind of cocky and self-centred – look at me! Look at my face right here at the top! It’s mine! The ‘success’ of my blog hasn’t changed much from when I had the photo up; same sorts of views and comments, I put down the increasing traffic to an increase in followers which is a natural progression over time, and has nothing to do with my header photo.
….It doesn’t, does it? My face wasn’t actually repelling people, was it? Please say no. I’ll be polite and pretend to believe you.

Often the shock reveal can turn readers or followers away. Kind of like when you’re in love with a musician’s voice only to see the musician singing it for the first time and suddenly, the song no longer means the same thing. The same applies to authors, especially if they use a pseudonym: my step-sister insisted that she was going to marry J.K. Rowling no matter what, ‘he’s the best. I don’t care. I’m marrying him.’ I asked, ‘What if it’s a woman?’ The thought had never crossed her mind until then, and suddenly, that mysterious man J.K. lost a little of his magic.

When we don’t know the person’s details, we create them. So, what about me, then? What do you, reader, garner from these glimpses into my thoughts and opinions? This blog, even if I get a little personal, can still never replace actually knowing me. Hearing me speak, joke, watching me move, looking back into my eyes as we converse in a real, human moment and knowing for certain who I am, or at the very least, what I am on surface level. I often look at the bloggers I follow and wonder who they really are. I look at the blogs of people I know and pick out the parts that differ on screen from their real lives.

Our mind’s eye creates a character for the blogger we read, just like how we imagine characters from books as we read. It’s always startling to hear somebodies voice for the first time, and whether or not we admit it, it’s startling to match a face to a post. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it completely discredits the person we previously declared blogging love for, i.e. ‘Wow… you have a Swastika tattoo? Never woulda thunk it… Unfollow.” All we can do is remember that spirit that breathed through the posts before we saw the face – remember how they made us feel with words rather than with their aesthetics.

This is me. The most recent picture of me, showing my facebook friends my glittery dress for the ‘sparkle’ party I attended. This is me taking a selfie.
A selfie.
Still have any respect for me? Can you separate my blog posts from this one point in time where I photographed myself, like every other girl my age? I imagine I look a little different to each of you, in whatever way.
Do I appear as you imagined me? Too many questions? I’d say ‘then just enjoy the pic’, but… well…


27 thoughts on “Does My Picture Change Your Opinion?

  1. As a photographer I agree with “A Picture Says A Thousand Words!” What you want your picture to say may not be what it says to someone else.

  2. For myself personally, yes I do get an image of the person if there is no actual image given from the beginning but if they provide one later it personally does not change what I think of them. I don’t base my opinions of a person on their looks but on their character, attitude, and how they treat me and others who interact with them. Yes a picture may shatter the image I had of them, or better yet build up the original image I had in my head, being the 40 yr old male I am, I’m a perverted old man what can I say LOL but with that said it doesn’t change what I think of them as an individual, never has and never will. BTW, I thought this was a great post. I enjoyed reading it very much.

    1. Oh thank you 🙂
      I sometimes am put off by people’s picture if they look really mean. Which doesn’t happen often as people don’t usual put up angry pictures, and not on wordpress anyway.
      I think finally seeing someone’s face after this picture you’ve built up of them makes them seem richer somehow.
      It’s definitely a good thing for me.

      1. I can agree with that. If someone has up a pic and they look like an axe murder, I might take pause but then think they may have just did it on purpose. But yes overall I have found pictures enrich the image you had of someone, takes the “I wonder” away. You can say “Oh hot damn” or what ever comes to mind LOL

  3. If a “rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, then I would suspect it would be true in relation to the writer’s appearance, age, and gender. The words transcend all. A photo makes the relationship more intimate between the writer and their reader. We may not always know what our readers look like, but our readers tend to demand to know what we look like. In this way, they can connect to our words on a deeper level. Of course, it’s always possible to put forth a pic that is not us and our readers would never be the wiser.

  4. I like when bloggers have their photo displayed, it made me switch from a basic/bland pic to this one.
    If I see someone’s face I don’t know what kind of blog they run and I get curious (honestly, that’s probably how I landed on your site…a pretty face makes me wonder what kind of site is behind it).
    The reason I like reading blogs (mostly movie blogs) is because I like getting to know the people, a picture helps me with that.

  5. I think every one is beautiful in their own way. An Author’s looks don’t influence how much I enjoy their words. Your words are thought provoking and insightful. PS. I am sure I had a top like the one in the “selfie” in the 80’s! LOL.

  6. Reading the words some one creates and weaves to me is a great window into their personality and spirit. For me, I try to judge people from the inside out, so seeing a writers picture doesn’t effect me that much. But you make valid points though, great piece, enjoyed it!

  7. Great post! It’s a very interesting topic. I think it definitely does effect the way a person views someone’s blog when they know what they look like. I’d rather someone knew what I looked like that way they aren’t always wondering, which is why I put my picture in my ‘About’ section. I do, however, understand someone not wanting their work judged based on their looks. I guess it all comes down to a matter of personal preference.

  8. I only have a b&w photo of myself because I’ll be a ‘published’ author in a matter of weeks (eek!) – but I still strive to have a personal life away from my writing. People shouldn’t judge of each other, whatever they think or look like. We all deserve a voice.

  9. I completely agree that humans judge. It is one reason that I choose not to reveal anything of myself on my blog. So far, it is easy to determine that I am female, and generally anyone can infer an age range, but I like my writing to speak for itself.

    Also, I saw your lovely picture before when it was on your blog page and it did not surprise me, and certainly didn’t change my opinion of you or your (excellent) writing.

    Adieu, scribbler

  10. And I liked your cocky header picture… And this one too, in fact – your makeup is gorgeous 😉
    As for looks, I guess it depends on the person looking. Once you’ve loved person’s writing you don’t really care what they look like, but sometimes their looks can actually make you want to find out what they can write. This may be shallow of me, but that’s how I discovered a few writers – just by looking at their pictures and feeling they’ve got some stories to tell. Sometimes great looks can bring popularity to a completely shallow person, that happens…

  11. Great post. You are absolutely right. Sometimes reading a blog post can be like reading a first person fictional narrative. Actually, whether or not it’s fiction is irrelevant. The writer reveals only what and how they wish, in effect creating a (fictional?) character to present to the world. In fact the line between fictional and non-fictional in this instance can become very blurred and may even change over time, perhaps evolving from idealised to more realistic as the blogger becomes more comfortable with the cyber-environment he explores.
    I’m going to go away and stew on that for a while, now!

    1. Their gender and rough age (age of mind, at least) is pretty alright to decipher.
      Their life story? Not so easy. You can generally gather from their opinions and memories bits of it, but never all. Especially since people are so different online at times. I’m a strangely good judge of character (the only talent I’ll admit to besides solitaire) so perhaps I think about it more than I should.
      The point, though, is, does seeing a picture change how you imagine them to be? Not telling a lot about people from their posts.
      I’ll have to think about harder as to how I can generally, immediately tell when it’s an older man, and it’s not a bad thing that I can!

      1. I just found that aspect of your piece particularly interesting, hence my comment on that subject. To refer to your main point, yes, it does change opinion, because as sad as it is, we are judgmental creatures, so one forms opinions upon viewing a persons physical appearance. That’s my opinion though.

        1. Sorry if I sounded rude before – gosh we really do need fonts that depict tone. I just realised I wasn’t sure how to answer. I can tell people’s gender’s easily, but then your comment made me realise that maybe not everyone can so I shouldn’t make sweeping comments saying ‘we’. I’ll have to think about why I guess gender so easily.
          We really are judgemental creatures. I wonder if my responses would differ based on the picture I chose to include in the post.
          Plus, sometimes if someone looks like someone I don’t like very much in real life, I’ll be like ‘oooh… don’t know if you’re a nice person now.” Which is completely unfair but also completely human! (the less nice side of humanity, anyway)

        2. I like to try and pick up clues about people, but I am much much better at reading people in person than I am through their words. It is something I am working on as I love to read body language when talking to people.
          I find it interesting you put the picture at the end. As a new reader I was imagining what you would look like in my head while reading, and the first thing I saw was brown hair, not blonde! The choice will skew you to getting more male readers I would say, mainly because you are young, blonde and attractive. A terrible generalisation to make, but again, that’s what I think anyway.

        3. Well, don’t fear, the hairdresser helps me get this blonde 😉
          A few highlights keep it in check, so maybe your instinct is better than you thought haha
          I wondered if I should keep the picture in, I thought seriously about putting in a really horrible one to see the reaction then decided I wasn’t brave enough.
          Thanks though for commenting 🙂

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