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Seven Types of Profile Pictures and What They Say About You

Breaking down the seven most common profile picture faux pas and the insight they provide to who you are

Written by: Eric Seitz

A few weeks ago, I changed my Facebook profile picture for the first time since 2013. Now, I am not a 50-year-old mother of three, so my Facebook screen-time is admittedly limited, but I had left that little photo of mid-pubescent me with two of my tween friends because Facebook — for some ungodly reason — insists on notifying everyone within a 12-block radius when you change your profile picture. Enduring the agony of people I haven’t spoken to in nearly a decade commenting “Cute! :-)” on the new post was painful, but it was a necessary step if I wanted to shed the stigma behind having an out-of-date profile picture. You may be asking: “What stigma?” Below are seven types of profile pictures and what people think of you when they see them — whether you like it or not

The Out-of-Date

Profile pictures are representations of our current selves — not who we were eight years ago when we went to that wedding in Aspen and looked really hot. Change is part of life, and regardless of whether it’s positive or negative, who you are is who you are.

What it says about you:

Easy — you’re living in the past! Next question!

Just kidding. Honestly though, it really seems like you think that wedding in Aspen was when you hit your peak. Have you done ANYTHING in the past eight years? Head to a pumpkin patch. Get a tattoo. Rob a bank.

The Crop Out

From left to right, it went: your bestie Grace, then you, then your former bestie (now arch-nemesis) Melanie. But it was too good of a picture of you, so you just zoomed in on your head. “Who cares that the other people’s shoulders are still in the frame?” you think. Well, no one cares, per say — but everyone notices.

What it says about you:

You’ve made sure to distinguish yourself from the group photo tier by cropping out the OPs in the frame, but those headless shoulders next to you are subtle reminders that your friends might be good-looking enough to outshine you.

The Couple Shot

You know those Boomer-age couples who have joint Facebook accounts, and you don’t know which one you’re addressing when you DM them? They are the only ones with a legitimate reason to set a couple photo as their profile picture.

What it says about you:

You either want everyone to see that you’re happily in love (please hold while I search for the barf emoji), or you’ve let yourself be shackled by your significant other. In either case, your profile picture represents all that your account is — so unless you and your bae are each simultaneously putting a finger on that “Post” button every time you put a photo up on your account, Bae’s gotta go. From the photo, that is.

The Vacay

Vacation photos on the timeline serve to: 1) turn followers green with envy, 2) show off that beach bod and 3) draw attention away from the fact that you previously posted four selfies in a row. All acceptable uses. Using a vacation shot as a PROFILE pic, however, paints you as a world traveler, and everyone knows that the only traveling you ever do is to that resort in Mexico every February.

What it says about you:

You’re dying for people to see you as the adventurous type — The type who’s just oozing with that buzz word “wanderlust” that every fifth white girl’s got on her laptop. Chances are, people will think you’re even less adventurous because of it. You wanna seem adventurous? BE adventurous. And more importantly, don’t do it for clout.

The Pet

If I see a pet in a profile photo, I will 100% assume that your grid is cluttered with strikingly similar pics of you with it. So, I guess good on you for picking a theme and sticking with it? At least people know what they’re signing up for when they look at your profile picture. Upfrontness is on the list of qualities of a good profile picture. It’s probably last on the list, but still, it’s on there.

What it says about you:

You love your pet. *Yawn* I know you think the creature is heavenly and that everyone agrees, but pets are famously unphotogenic. And if you’re in the photo with it, you’re probably all hunched over or lying awkwardly to squeeze in the frame — not your best look.

The Headshot

I’m sorry, did I get lost and accidentally wander onto LinkedIn? Headshots are obviously cheating, and those who use them as their social media profile pictures know of their crime, but they do it anyway. I mean, is that even you? Did they replace you with a wax figure and take a picture of that? Do you even own the clothes you were wearing in it?

What it says about you:

You are the physical embodiment of the color beige. I mean, I think I’d rather see your driver’s license photo than a professional headshot as your profile picture. Who are you trying to impress with that double Windsor tie knot? Surely not that skater kid from chem class you’ve been drooling over all semester.

The Baby

Wait, is that you as an infant? Or am I looking at your offspring? In which case, why is the name on the profile not just the name of your child? Is that thing running your account?

What it says about you:

You’re proving to the world just how fertile you are (you know, just in case there were any doubts). As with the pet-heads described above, your grid is likely to already be littered with your spawn, so does it really need to make a cameo in the profile picture as well?


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