Do Your Online Photos Represent the Real You?


When I first put up a profile on CatholicMatch, I tried to truly represent myself. As a writer, I didn’t find it too difficult to fill the blank spaces. However,  I also didn’t want to waste anyone’s time; nor did I want them to waste mine.

That desire to respect time allowed me to be more forthcoming. I wrote things like, “Don’t contact me unless you agree to 7 out of the 7 faith based questions” and “I am not willing to travel to meet someone.”

In this way, if God really wanted to, He could still use CatholicMatch as a vehicle to introduce my spouse, however unmotivated I felt. I remained open and communicated with everyone who respectfully contacted me.

In addition to the written portion, I included at least seven photos. They were not all the best pictures of myself, contrary to my generation’s obsession, and none of them were digital.

After recently reading Brinton Parker’s article on Bustle about her own experimentation in observing people’s reaction to different levels of makeup, I remembered how important it was that I had profile pictures that represented the real me.

Read her article to see what a difference just makeup alone will make in others’ impressions of you. I included photos of different levels of makeup in my profile. Then I braved the photo just about every woman fears; I included a photo of myself sans makeup. I included posed shots, both serious and silly, as well as candid. I did my best to paint the picture of who I am in a quick series of photos, knowing not everyone would initially read the short novel I wrote. Those photos also served as several conversation starters, making initial conversations less awkward.

However, my husband’s reaction to those photos was a bit different than I had hoped. Before getting to know me, Alex thought, “Who is this woman? Is this the same person in each photo? She looks completely different. Does she have a split personality? Which one is the real Joy?”

In addition to the variety of make-up and activity levels in my photos, he also saw dramatically changing hair styles, from a curly bob to hip-length waves. The reason for the dramatic hair change isn’t any kind of life crisis or need to constantly redefine myself. It’s simple: I’m a hair donor! Since I was 13, I’ve been donating my hair every two-three years to either Locks of Love or Wigs for Kids.

I love to dress up and tango and swing dance. But I also love kickboxing and jujitsu. While I wear a veil and love the reverence of the Latin Mass, I prefer Mass in the vernacular. Most days I wear makeup; some days, I don’t. My only priority is remembering my contacts! So while I had an explanation for his concerns, it struck me as funny that as specific as I had thought I was, I still left some room for confusion. As my husband got to know me in person, he completely understood why I included all those photos.

My husband chose the opposite route: less is more. He had two photos on his profile, one looked like a blurry mug shot, only showing him from the neck up. The second one was a picture of him singing and playing his guitar with the Franciscan Friars of Renewal.

Those photos were both four years old! I told him I thought the guitar and friar photo was a cheap shot for attention, and that charm wouldn’t work on me. When I asked for recent photos, he told me that although those two were old, he basically looked the same. I was still concerned and wondered, “What is the creep trying to hide?” When I finally met him in person, I realized he was right. Alex basically looked the same, and I completely swooned the first time I heard him sing and play.

When in doubt, be generous with the photos you put on your profile. Make sure you’re showing the real you, in all your stages. It’s natural to want to put the best foot forward, so use your best photo as the first one online dating members will see. But also include the daily grind ones.

Let your photos tell a story of who you are. Use photos that are less than 12 months old, and if you change hair styles, or for men, facial hair, from time to time, include those changes, too. At the very least, these photos provide non-threatening conversation starters!




  1. Kiz-1124626 October 29, 2014 Reply

    Haha! I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks, it was very interesting, and made a lot of sense. I’d like to try the suggestions here, thanks again.

  2. Jean-504066 October 13, 2014 Reply

    Is the guy in the photo single? 🙂

  3. Tessy-971159 October 13, 2014 Reply

    I was confused by a man talking about wearing make up, since the photo with the article was a man, I assumed it was a male who was writing (the photo is huge, the authors name is minuscule). Then she talked about her husband viewing her dating photos instead of her future husband. Kind of mixed me up.

  4. Eunice-1130193 October 12, 2014 Reply

    I try to be honest and update the written profile. Am not photogenic, however, keep photos current it’s not that easy but, certainly helps.

  5. Michelle-989480 October 12, 2014 Reply

    I like to keep my photos seasonal and current and I update the written profile information when needed.

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