I’m pretty sure men don’t see the same things in their fishing or hunting pictures as do the women they hope to attract. All that masculinity and strength and courage and camaraderie kind of disappears when it’s reduced to a small photo of the end result.
Admittedly, I haven’t seen many women’s profiles, so I don’t know what kinds of pictures make men cringe. Do women who have traditionally feminine pastimes show photos of their finished needlepoint or dinners they spent all day cooking? Maybe they do.
What about non-gender-specific activities? Runners and cyclists usually have at least one picture of themselves wearing the athletic gear, and people who like to party show themselves holding a drink. Very few pictures show people in their work clothes, but I have seen a few people in suits and ties and one person standing next to an eighteen-wheeler. Curiously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any photos of someone holding a book or a newspaper.
When I look at my own pictures it makes me wonder what they say about me. One shows me holding a big cuddly teddy bear, but I’m really not that kind of girl. I only bring out the soft toys during the Christmas holidays. Another picture shows me doing volunteer work. Oh dear! I just made myself cringe.
One picture shows me with friends in San Francisco. I’m wearing a lovely bright shawl that makes me look quite glamorous, but the thing is, I borrowed that shawl. I had underestimated how cold it would be on the bay, and one of my friends took pity on me. So, instead of portraying myself as stylish, I am really showing how unprepared I can sometimes be and how colourful my friend is.
The biggest problem with profile pictures is that those of us who are single have to ask someone to take the photo. If I ask someone to take my picture for a dating site profile, it seems very self-centred. It is quite self-absorbed to think it, plan it, ask someone, bring a camera, find a suitable location, make sure the light is good, and strike a winning pose. So, I understand why people just go with the pictures they have on hand.
What we already have are pictures that are taken by friends when we are enjoying a moment of triumph or joy; the party, the fishing trip, the turkey dinner, the marathon. Sometimes we aren’t the focus of the picture at all. When a group feeds the homeless, the food is the pretext for a photo. If we have a trophy like a dead fish, then the pretext for the picture becomes the fish. We just happen to be in the same shot.
The trouble with that is that the readers of the dating site profile don’t see all the effort and skill that went into that moment. They only see the dead fish.