Aside from choosing a method of getting blackout this weekend, picking a profile picture is one of the most important decisions a betch can make. Sure, you might look like a human disaster wrapped in yoga pants 80 percent of the time in real life, but social media is forever. Not only is your Facebook page the first real impression you make on the hot guy(s) you made out with at Coachella, but it’s also what people from high school see when they’re idly stalking you after your moms get together for brunch back home. Obviously, your profile picture has to be flawless in every way.
The only problem is that you might think your current prof pic makes you appear like the appropriate combination of successful, fuckable, and free-spirited, but according to science, nobody else agrees.
In a study from the University of New South Wales, psychologists found that it’s actually a way better idea to let strangers pick your profile picture than to rely on the brutal honesty of your BFF or your own terrible judgment. Researchers asked 102 students to pick two photos of themselves to be used in three situations: social media, dating apps, and a professional site (ugh). Then they were given photos of someone else in the study and asked to do the same thing, choosing three profile pictures for a stranger. Finally, researchers showed the chosen photos to a different group of randos and made them rate the pictures for science.
According to their results, we’re spectacularly terrible at picking our own profile pictures, but we’re great at choosing them for other people. In the study, the photos chosen by a stranger were consistently rated better than the self-chosen kind. So you might think your picture looks like this:
But actually it’s more like this.
As if making the most infinitesimal change to my profile wasn’t stressful enough, now I have to find out I look like a monster in my main photo? From now on, I’m only ever posting anything when it’s been approved by a committee of my peers.
The good news for you guys is that, as a total stranger, I can tell you what to do with your profile picture. You’re welcome.
DO: Face The Camera
It’s ridiculous that I have to specify this, but judging from my Facebook feed, specify I must. Face the fucking camera in your profile picture. It’s there for people to identify you, and that’s impossible if your pic shows nothing but the back of your ombréd head, which looks like all the other ombréd heads out there. Also maybe consider a new dye job because ombré has been on its way out since it came in, in like 2014.
DON’T: Use A Selfie
You know you’re a narcissistic hottie, but do you really want to advertise it? Besides, using a selfie makes you look like you have no friends to take a photo for you, which might be true but I doubt you want that known. The obvious exception is Instagram, where selfies reign supreme.
DO: Pick Something That Makes You Look Cool
Yes, it’s bragging, but isn’t that what social media is for? Go forth and upload that pic of you paddleboarding in the Bahamas. Nobody needs to know it was from 2014 and you fell off the board immediately after—they do need to think you’re way cooler than you are.
DON’T: Include A Kid
Unless that child is the fruit of your personal loins, don’t include a kid in your profile pic. If you do, I guarantee you’ll never get laid again because every potential Tinder date will assume it’s yours. Or you’ll get asked on dates by people “looking to start a family,” which is way worse than celibacy if you ask me.
DO: Smize Like Tyra Asked You To
Put those America’s Next Top Model marathons to use and pick something where you’re smiling. Just don’t smile too much, because then your eyes get all scrunched and, even worse, someone might start to doubt your reputation for heartlessness.
DON’T: Be A Face In A Crowd
Facebook is for stalking someone you just met until you know everything about their lives. How are people supposed to do that when they can’t tell which pink-clad sorority girl is supposed to be you in your profile picture? I’m all for girl power, but save that shit for a cover photo.