“Hell yeah I’m the motherf**king princess” I lip synced for the fifth time. I hadn’t heard Avril Lavigne’s song “Girlfriend” so many times in a row since 2009. This was last week as I attempted to do the new Tik Tok trend of showing off your side profile to the world. The intention of the trend was to boost confidence about your side profile, but nothing really changed for me.
My chin was still huge, my jawline was still imperfect, my lips still too small, and my nose still reminded me of the step-brother I’ve never met. I hate the things that remind me that not everything can be in my control, so I hate my side profile.
Side profile insecurity isn’t a new development, and is shared across all genders, ethnicities, races and backgrounds. There is no end to the amount of posts about side profile insecurity on the internet (trust me I’ve looked at all of them). People say they like their front facing profile but hate their side profiles, are unsatisfied with both, or even depressed over their side profile. But I found one commonality between them all.
My main theory is that side profiles remind us of the things we try to hide about ourselves.
Surprisingly there aren’t many scientific studies done on this subject, but there are many theories and observations out there that I’ve compiled into this article that hopefully will put into perspective why we feel so gross about our side profiles, and why we should love them for that reason.
1. We dislike photos of ourselves.
Many studies have been done about why we dislike photos of ourselves so much, but I found one TED Talk by photographer Duncan Davidson who came to the conclusion that people hate pictures of themselves because it’s what we are unused to seeing.
Davidson even says that “you fall into the uncanny valley”. Which essentially means that you are so used to seeing yourself when you look in the mirror, so when someone takes a picture of you, it’s ever so slightly off that it just… puts you off. The picture resembles you, but not how YOU know you.
The reason I bring this up is that we can’t actually see our side profiles in a mirror like we can see our face. So the only time we see our side profiles is in pictures, which amplifies that feeling you get when seeing a picture of yourself. Our side profiles are so off-putting that we see everything that we think is “wrong”. For me, it’s how much smaller my lips look.
We can choose which parts of our face we want the world to see when we take pictures of ourselves, but not when other people are snapping pictures of us.
2. We want control.
To expand on the previous point, we want to control the parts of ourselves that people see. Take for example social media. We all curate this identity online that’s just a snapshot of our lives. We all have a favorite selfie angle, or the one that we absolutely hate. And that will be true for any pictures of yourself. Some angles you love, some angles you don’t. (I also believe this is the same case for side profile pictures too. You just have to find the right angle where you feel confident af). And if we could have it our way, we’d want every angle of ourselves to be perfect.
But the key to loving pictures of yourself and your side profile is quite literally looking at your insecurities from a different angle.
I believe that social media is shifting in a more positive, transformative direction where it’s encouraged to display fully who you are. The Internet is going through a wave of side profile “reveals” and for all the right reasons. On Tik Tok, people are showing off their curved noses and small chins, weak jawlines and strong jawlines, all for the purpose of lifting one another up (for the most part). People online are choosing to show the parts of themselves that are imperfect, the parts they try to hide behind a selfie.
Letting go of control online is terrifying, but extremely courageous. And if anything, the more we represent ourselves truthfully, the more we love ourselves. Every side profile has a story, one maybe a therapist has only heard, or one that no one has ever heard.
3. Side profiles have a story.
Finally, side profiles have their own narrative about our lives that can sometimes be hard for the world to know. It’s different for everyone, so I encourage you to think about the story that your side profile has.
It may be one you are proud of, or scared of. It may remind you of your childhood, or your parents, or someone you’ve never met. It may have gone through many changes, many life events, many hardships.
I argue that your side profile is the most beautiful part of who you are, because it’s honest. And it’s hard to be honest. That’s why we hate it so much.
Every story has it’s different angles, but it all comes together to make you. By skipping out on the angles we don’t like, you’re missing an opportunity to bring light and love into your life. That’s my hot take folks.
My goal this year was to be more honest to myself, so this week I worked on loving my side profile for everything that it is. My big chin reminds me of sailing with my grandpa. My small lips remind me of how much louder my voice has become. My imperfect jawline reminds me of how sometimes I’m sharp, and sometimes I’m soft, and I love those things about who I am. And my big nose reminds me that I still have a life ahead of me of people to meet and experiences to have, even when I’m scared.
I still haven’t gathered the guts to post that Tik Tok trend, lip syncing isn’t really my thing and I retook it so many times that I’m sick of listening to that song. So I put that energy into this article, and of taking pictures of my side profile that bring out the uniqueness my insecurities generously gave to me, not free of turmoil of course.
Love to you and your side profile,