The article featured to my writing >>Forbes Japan (business magazine)<< article as the 2nd one.
“She looks beautiful in the picture”, “She is so photogenic”
When you hear things like these, doesn’t it just remind you of how you look in pictures?
For 20 years, I have been a cosplayer having pictures taken of myself both at home in Japan and overseas. At the same time, I have also closely studied hundreds of thousands of pictures I have taken in Japan and abroad.
A lot of people who want to “look photogenic” in pictures have come to me with questions like “What sort of clothing would be suitable for me?”, “What sort of makeup should I use?” or “What angle should I take pictures from?”.
In this piece, I will save us all the hassle of reading what one could do to look photogenic; rather, I would like to share my simple and honest answers both as a cosplayer whose pictures have been seen by the world, and as someone who has closely studied on how one can best appear attractive taking pictures.
1. Figuring Out What’s Uniquely Attractive About You
This would be my very first response to people who come to me trying to look photogenic.
A quick search on the Internet would give us endless amount of information on fashion and makeup.
Personal colors, makeup to help you get that beautiful face you’ve always wanted…Google whatever it is that you wish, and the next second you will find yourself staring at a completely different person in the mirror.
But are we all truly okay with trying so hard to turn ourselves into our “perfect” selves, only to realize at the end that that pretty face sitting on our own is not even ours? In a world with 6 billion people, who are we trying to outcompete with a face that is not even ours?
I started having these thoughts 10 years ago when I had started studying all these pictures, because I was trying to look the part as a cosplayer.
All those pretty faces that would take one’s breath away at a quick glance are nothing more than artificial beauty. If I can’t tell a pretty face apart from another, what it means is that the person doesn’t have a unique identity, and that the person is as good as being non-existent.
Pictures that would make you wonder who it is that is in them, or those that would have you catch yourself thinking about the faces in them over and over again, are pictures that hit home with what I would consider as true beauty.
2. Being Your Real Self
There are people who always take pictures from the same angle. One of way thinking about it is that they can’t handle taking pictures of themselves from a different angle other than the one they have always taken pictures of themselves from.
People want to hide what they think are “bad”. Those tiny eyes, that round face…there are countless personalities that are considered “bad” by the average standard. However, things we try to hide away actually only end up looking all the more obvious, and those body parts that we own that we don’t even love ourselves will not ever have a chance to shine.
I actually started being a cosplayer because I didn’t like myself, and I wanted to be someone that I wasn’t. However, I started seeing my body parts – those very same body parts that I had never considered to be “good enough” – in a different light after I learned to cherish and be fine with showing them.
3. The So-Called Beauty = Attractive?
Those big eyes on that small face, that high nose bridge, those beautiful double eyelids, that smooth skin…the “pretty doll face” is what’s in these days.
But do people really find us “attractive” when we are trying so hard to hide away or even correct our true selves? Do people really appreciate us when all we do is trying to put that pretty doll face on our own?
Even worse than this are moments when we feel like we really don’t want to hide away anything about us, and that we would really like to be accepted for who we really are.
Back in the Heian Era, people had a very different take for what a beautiful face should look like. Also, in the Western world, what people consider beautiful is slightly different from what is considered beautiful in Japan. In a world where so many try to look pretty with big eyes and a small nose, those with small eyes and a big nose are actually the unique ones.
As a matter of fact, there are a lot of people who fully take advantage of the way they are and have the world hold its breath.
So long as we don’t see small eyes or a low nose bridge as being inferior, our appearance is but one of the countless ways we can make ourselves shine.
We don’t need to make ourselves look pretty with all the makeup; all we need to do is to see and recognize ourselves for the way we are, and it is precisely when we do just that when we can finally shine in all our glory.