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What your Facebook Profile Picture Says about You and Why it Matters

Updated on November 14, 2016
janderson99 profile image

John uses his scientific skills (PhD) & experience developing 50+ websites to research, review & evaluate SEO, website design, Social Media

The 'Face' you put on Facebook is not really who you are. Yt is how you want your friend to see you, or how you want to be imagined. Your profile picture is not only seen by your friends - it's the face the world sees, including friends of friends, former school mates and all sorts of other people.

Some people change their pictures often, as they alter the image that they want to portray. However, most people choose and image only once and keep the same picture unaware of the possible consequences of a poorly chosen picture. After a while the owner becomes oblivious to how silly their image looks to other.

Most people standard, somewhat boring photos that resemble passport photos and are chosen to be deliberately neutral and conservative. Other choose outrageous part shots hat ruin reputations. This article looks as the various types of passport photos and what they convey about you.

There are several distinct types of Facebook profile image that can be identified.

Let's examine why people choose these types and what the say about you.

The quirky, silly shot - Some people choose a self-mocking image that makes fun of them. They choose an unflattering face showing a silly expression or stupid clothes or funny hats. This may be suitable for a very short period of time or to share with your friends, but it is hardly appropriate as a permanent image.
What it says about you: It is demeaning and conveys the sense that you don't care, you are shallow and don't have self respect and self-awareness.

The studio model portrait - Some people choose studio poses with professional make-up, stylish clothes and hairdos and mood lighting.
What it says about you: You are dishonest and aim to mislead and hide behind a mask. It implies that you have something to hide.

The cartoonized image - There are various websites that will convert a photo into a cartoon version of it.
What it says about you: You are shallow and you are afraid to display yours self as you really are - even a carefully chosen photo has to be doctored.

The Antique Portrait Image - There are various camera options that allow you to create and antique effect. Or not, if you employ some judicious cropping. Who needs a left ear, anyway?
What it says about you: You want to live in the past ad you are afraid to face the future.

Cartoons and Movie Personalities - There was an old fad or craze to post a picture of the celebrity you most resemble or your favorite cartoon character or movie star.
What it says about you: This is very out of date and pointless, especially for your more distant friends.

The Action Hero and Daredevils - Many people post images of themselves bungy jumping, rock-climbing, surfing, doing a wheelie on a mountain bike.
What it says about you: Your ordinary self is boring and your normal life in unexciting. You have to invent an active super-hero to compensate. Most people will think the images are fake anyway.

Picture of your child or children - Your child is very cute, at least to you.
What it says about you: You are so totally obsessed with your children that it is probably not worth contacting you.

The Natural Setting and Travel Pics - Many people included pictures of themselves in the sunset, cuddling a crocodile, being straggled by a boa constrictor or beneath a giant tree in the rainforest or beneath the Eiffel Tower.
What it says about you: You are hollow and lack the self consciousness to be yourself. You have to adorn yourself in the emperor's new clothes. Do bother me as I'm likely to be on another holiday by myself.

The Family Portrait - Why include the family instead of your own face.
What it says about you: You are family focused and will be unlikely to be fully committed and unlikely to be much fun . The Australian rock Group Skyhooks said in all with these lyrics

The Far and Away image - The person is so far in the distance that you can barely see is a person in the frame, let alone any details of their face or appearance.
What it says about you: You are a very private person who wants to hide the details of what you really look like. You are obviously reserved, conservative and shy. You lack self confidence and are not really committed to this facebook thing.

Up Close In your Face and Impersonal - the person is so close to the lens that you can see their tonsils and dental work.
What it says about you: You want people to recognise that you are unique and funny and you hope that this in-your-face image will appeal to many who will want to be friends with such funny character. Think again no one will recognise your tonsils and they will regard you as shallow and unable to crack a funny joke.

Shot of you as a baby or child - The picture is one of the person as a child that was dragged out of the family album.
What it says about you: You live in the past and you were cute as a child but now you are boring and ugly. You are very conservative and stuck in a rut and you probably never change and amount to anything. Who wants to communicate with an ancient kid photo

The Pet Show - The photo of the family pet, with or without the owner.
What it says about you: People will interpret the images depending on what they think of various types of pets. It says nothing about you.

The Wedding Photo - Man and woman in a formal pose showing a wedding dress and tux.
What it says about you: You want everyone to know that you are now grown-up. You have stopped partying and settled down to a family life of watching Family Guy reruns and doing the dishes. You cannot party anymore and you are half of a couple rather than a single individual person.

The Party Picture - The image is of a person often with someone else, clearly at a party.
What it says about you: You are stupid and young love partying but will probably be fired one of more jobs for something you posted on Facebook or a stupid email criticising the boss. You wish you were married do you could replace the picture with a wedding portrait, or pictures of your children.

Advice for Choosing a Better Image

There is no trust in social media without a photo and so must have one that is honest. The photo should look like you and should be recognizable in an instant. So use close up shots (head and shoulders). Use a smiling shot that is more appealing. Avoid all the mistakes listed above.

© janderson99-HubPages

© 2011 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    2 years ago

    Nice, and like you said, the Hubpage profile pic doesn't really matter. The pic is of my Rat. I picked the cutest shot because... well... who doesn't love the cute stuff?



  • Rafael Deramas profile image

    Rafael Deramas 

    2 years ago from Philippines

    Thank you for letting me know that my profile photo sucks. Haha

  • David Elorts profile image

    David Elorts 

    3 years ago from Santa Monica, CA

    Funny but true! Thanks for a great article!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    No offense, but this is exactly the type of post that encourages people to judge you by what you put on your profile page and not look past what it says any further to determine what manner of person you are—which I think is not only far from the best approach you should take when meeting new people, but also dangerous. Essentially, it would be the real-world equivalent of judging someone by the clothes they wear, the location you see them at, the car they drive, etc. etc, all of which involve judging people by vague, preconceived ideas you've formed about them (which may or may not be true) without then gaining intimate knowledge about who they truly are as a person.

    I know your Facebook profile page is supposed to represent who you are to some degree (because if it doesn't it loses its legitimacy and value as an account), but it's not wrong for you to want to be silly and creative with what you put on your profile page, either. I think the whole attitude of trying to turn every profile page on Facebook into a resume or a biography of sorts with little room for self-expression limits people to being serious, and sometimes we just want a place to be ourselves. Facebook is primarily a place to connect with friends and family, so really, the whole element of formality on Facebook in general comes in second to just being able to freely express yourself with friends. People are going to judge you any way they choose regardless, so you might as well keep your concerns about impressing them to a minimum.

    If you want your Facebook experience to be professional, there's nothing wrong with that, as you could make a second account just for business, and that would be fine. But I just disagree with suggesting that it's okay for people to adopt the mindset that you ARE your profile page, which I think is what your post does a little. That type of thinking makes it even easier for people to dismiss you if they find something you listed on your profile page they don't like. Too much weight is placed on that alone, and not enough on actually trying to gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of who the person is. I know that I said people will judge you based on whatever before, which is true, but even in that case it doesn't stop me from strongly believing practices and attitudes like that should be discouraged.

    And aside from that, it's just not practical to expect to portray yourself holistically on Facebook, where everyone will understand the depth of you through a commentary about yourself, some pictures, and a few links on a page. That's what developing relationships with people are meant to do instead. So yeah...sorry. Lol. Though this was a fascinating article, it just seemed to encourage people to judge others based on way too little. That's the only implication about this article I disagree with. Other than it, it was fantastically written, informative, and insightful regarding the way you can come across to others online.

  • sarahbrennan profile image


    6 years ago

    Interesting hub. Good things consider when choosing pics.

  • Kimberly Vaughn profile image

    Kimberly Vaughn 

    6 years ago from Midwest

    Interesting hub! I will be looking at my profile pic and all my friends profile pics a little differently now!

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    nice post janderson99

    think will help ful for me

  • DeborahNeyens profile image

    Deborah Neyens 

    7 years ago from Iowa

    Haha. I got all the way through this without noticing your own profile picture, worrying that mine breaks all of your rules. Glad to learn the rules for Hubpages are different! Rest assured, my Facebook picture is a representative head shot, close but not too close, with a nice smile and no dogs/kids/spouse/lampshade-on-the-head. : )

  • laurathegentleman profile image


    7 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

    A very interesting Hub indeed! I'm definitely going to choose my profile pictures more carefully from now on!

  • janderson99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Dr. John Anderson 

    7 years ago from Australia on Planet Water


    Hubpages is a completely different kettle of fish.

    My image is a flying fish airborne over Planet Water. The name of my Laser sailing boat says it all - 'TOAF' - too old and fat. My Hubpage image is not aimed at establishing a personal identity with my friends.

  • Bruce A. Beaudet profile image

    Bruce A. Beaudet 

    7 years ago from Canada

    Hmmm...wonder what your hub pages profile picture says about you? ;)

  • alocsin profile image

    Aurelio Locsin 

    7 years ago from Orange County, CA

    I hope folks also realize that potential employers always look at Facebook pages, so the profile pic will communicate a lot to them as well. Voting this Up and Interesting.

  • bloggernotjogger profile image


    7 years ago from La Cala de Mijas, Spain

    You are absolutely right. I´m changing my picture right now.


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