Do you see yourself as others see you?

Various studies have shown that few people see themselves as others see them. We tend to either overrate or underrate our attractiveness compared to others’ collective rating of us.

How is it that you can look in the mirror and say, “Looking good!” and others think you need help. I’ve recently decided our self-view is anything but reliable. A date snapped a pic of me in what I thought was a cute, flattering outfit. The pic he sent me didn’t reflect what I thought was my cuteness. “Maybe it was the angle or lighting,” I told myself. Maybe not.

Recently, I’ve been going through a crisis about my appearance. A few months ago, I had my professional portrait taken at a hefty expense. I liked the pics, as did many colleagues, friends and clients. People commented on how much they liked my hair, which, after decades of struggle, I’ve finally decided I like long and straight, but with a curl on the end. I’ve even had strangers stop me to tell me how beautiful my hair is. “Aha,” I thought, “I finally have a style that works!”

Then a few months ago, a dear friend said, “I’d love to see what they’d do for you on one of those make-over shows.” “What????!!!” I inwardly screamed. “She thinks I need a make over?” She added, “I’d love to see what they’d do with your hair so it is more flattering and less Morticia-like.”


Then I sent some recent video footage to my video producer. He liked the content, but said, “You need  a new hair style. It looks outdated and matronly.” He even put his wife, a former hair stylist and makeup artist, on the phone to explain to me what she thought was the problem and how it could be fixed.

Arrgh again!

I worked to listen to each of these advisors, as I know they have my best interest at heart. They were not trying to be mean or hurtful. So I listened with that orientation.

The final straw came when I was having my hair and makeup done by a stylist at a talk I was giving. He didn’t know me, but I wanted an unbiased opinion. I told him what my video producer and friend had said, and he agreed that my hair could be more flattering.

While I generally believe in trusting one’s instincts and being true to yourself, sometimes you don’t do yourself any favors by insisting on sticking to something that you like but isn’t serving you well. So while I’ve gotten lots of compliments — something that didn’t happen until recently — I’ve decided to go for a change. I have an appointment with the hair stylist my image consultant recommended. I have my fingers crossed that she’ll do her magic.

The lesson for me is that I don’t think I have a good lens to see myself as others do. And I doubt many of us do.

Have you had trusted friends or advisers give you feedback that is counter to your own perception? If enough of them do, then put your own aside and take theirs. Our lens is skewed.


Assessing Your Assets: Why You’re A Great CatchGet other ideas on how to make sure you’re putting your best self forward in Assessing Your Assets: Why You’re A Great Catch


8 responses to “Do you see yourself as others see you?”

  1. Kevin Avatar

    DG-Sometimes a change is good. You may love, you may hate it, but sometimes it gives you a different perspective.

    On the other hand, you like your current look, and you receive compliments from men on you hairstyle. Two pretty good reasons to stick with what is working!

  2. Nathan Stang Avatar
    Nathan Stang

    I think that whether you believe you look good or bad relates to self-confidence.

  3. Laurel Avatar

    I’ve had a discussion about “compliments” with my sister, who sometimes wears unusual things. If I comment on the item as being unusual, she’ll say “I get tons of compliments on it.” I’d be wary of receiving a large number of compliments on clothing or hair. I think that when people notice some aspect that stands out, they are likely to comment, and because they are polite, they make it a “compliment”. E.g. “Wow-great shoes”, to a pair of purple & gold shoes probably really means “wow, those are really LOUD shoes”, and says nothing about whether the person thinks they look good or not. I think a generic, “great haircut”, or “I love your hair” is a bit fishy, while if a friend says “that haircut really makes you look good”, that’s probably a compliment you can trust.

  4. Dan Avatar

    A lot of people never give honest feedback, because they want to be positive and they also don’t want to hurt your feelings. Also, often times, the feedback won’t help anyway if it is something that can’t be changed.

    But having said that, I do think that we need honest outside feedback. Somethings about women can be changed, such as wardrobe and hairstyle, provided they want to do it and are comfortable with it.

    The same can be said of men. I’ve gotten sharp feedback from a few people to lose my glasses. My glasses look good (also from other feedback), but not they might not be so sexually attractive. When I take my glasses off, they people that said I should ditch the glasses also say, “ahh the glasses are good.” They are really saying my face doesn’t look that good, so the glasses help, but with the glasses on, they don’t know on first instincts that I am not so attractive w/o them. Yikes, I can’t change that, but at least I know.

  5. tom gurda Avatar
    tom gurda

    I think you hit it right on target – and in addition to whqat you said about underating themselves – people tend to place too much importance on looks – guys do anyway. It’s not the looks that most girls are looking for. The most important tip anyone could ever give you in regard to meeting Ladies: This is seriously your foundation and you will need to stay focused. Females are mostly attracted by self confidence and in turn – they are completely turned off by the lack of it. Your facial expression will get you started or shut you down instantly. If your expression is one of sadness or blank, negative or anything besides what I’m about to share then you’ve lost before you even entered the room. Girls will smell the failure or success in a guy long before they are even approached. And, this is important to remember, you don’t have to be financially successful to beat out the guys who are. Money gives a guy an edge when used correctly but it’s the not the money that gets the babes unless it’s a hooker or gold digger. Don’t get me wrong about this – having some money is very important if a relationship is what you want because women/girls are looking for security when it comes to relationships.

    Getting started:

    Here is what you have to do – some homework. Practice what I’m about to share as much as possible until you get your best at this. Your facial expression needs to be self confident and a little happy. You don’t even have to be smiling but i do recommend a slight smile or a slightly happy face. Depending on your mood and type of day you are having – this may not be apparent unless you are consciously making it happen.

    If you are not a very self confident person and most people are not then think of something you are good at – anything at all. If you’re real good at throwing horse shoes (or whatever else you can think of – anything) – use it to create that confident look on your face. Stand in front of a mirror and think about what ever it is that you are good at or something that you enjoy very much and practice that confident and slightly happy look. What I am explaining will help you at work too – it will help with most things you do that involve others – for example, if you hate your boss – you better start practicing this immediately or you might lose your job because your boss will see the hate in your eyes and in your body language. Your face projects how you feel about yourself and how you feel about yourself is how others are going to feel about you! When you think you have it mastered, practice it while looking into someone’s eyes and keep doing this until you can look into a girl’s eyes and maintain that look. Think about it –

    Projecting confidence is crucial and it’s the single most important thing you can do.

    So practice “the face” and before you walk through a door – have that face on before you enter the room.

    There’s a fine line between a confident face and an arrogant face – so you don’t want to over do it either. Having said that – you are better off looking slightly arrogant than looking like a loser or a failure.

    Now project confidence –

    This is your single the biggest ticket to get in.

    Remember, if you are not a confident person use the trick of thinking about something you are good at, it can be anything……..

  6. Matthew C Avatar

    Although change can be good and is needed sometimes, just make sure that you do what makes you happy. Don’t change your hair or clothing unless you are going to be happy with the outcome or are up for it. If not you will be unhappy with the outcome and wish that you didnt do it. As far as glasses vs contacts, as long as you are comfortable with how you look its your choice to how you react to what others think.

  7. BDD Avatar

    Awesome post! So true!!!

  8. Anon Avatar

    The thing with aesthetics is to study art, portrait photography, composition in famous paintings, fashion magazines, color harmony and contrast, light, etc, until it fits together in your mind’s eye. And only solicit opinions from people who look really good.

    The presentation is an artistic piece so there is no “right hair” or right anything else apart from the presentation of the whole. And the whole should have a powerful and individual statement, without violating aesthetics, by not clashing, and being an internally congruent message. I know a stunningly beautiful tango dancer with Morticia hair, some simple silver earrings, great posture, ballet grace, red dress, stilettos. Everything agrees, and when she’s doing baleos or ocho cortados with me I feel great, and lucky to dance with such a lady. But a widow’s peak and very black hair in an office suit might be too extreme and dark if the color wasn’t chosen right. The picture either reinforces itself or disagrees with itself.

    But you have to always trust your own mind’s eye and improve that, or people who look fantastic and know how to apply new looks to you. Because people will always have conflicting opinions, or say one thing looks good in isolation but they often don’t have good taste. It’s like music, everyone knows good music when they hear it, but no untrained person can just make good music.