How a profile photo can fullfil a stereotype
Finding yourself here on Social Media can be a puzzle. There are so many rules and ideas about what you should or shouldn’t be doing. So I thought I might talk about one aspect today. Your profile picture.
My husband says I don’t have one because I am embarrassed about the way I look, and perhaps there is an aspect of that, but for me it has more to do with stereotypes and what people tend to think about when they see a woman of my age and size.
So let’s start with what is a stereotype.
According to Wikipedia “a stereotype is a thought that can be adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things.”
That is a basic definition, but basically it means that you judge people on a preconceived idea of what or how they should act. It doesn’t mean it is correct, but you have that idea. We have a stereotype that pedophiles are creepy men, ones who look a certain way, when in reality they can look incredibly ordinary, otherwise why would you trust them with your children.
How is it relevant to me
My problem is that I am, first of all, a woman. Then I am older, I’m over 50 now, and thirdly overweight. I have three things against me when it comes to photography. We know that the world likes beautiful things, it is no secret, so what happens if you aren’t one them?
I have experienced the stereotype first hand. When I have been out and met people for the first time, people who don’t know me, I’ve seen how they look at me and you can tell they don’t think I’m a very good photographer. They aren’t interested in me at all, as in the photography aspect. They are happy to to talk at me about themselves, but they don’t ask me any questions. It is almost rude.
When I am with a friend who looks more like the stereotype I am ignored completely. Believe it is true, my friends have noticed as well.
I got this from a site that looked at Stereotypes for overweight people:
According to the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, sizeism is the fourth-most prevalent form of discrimination in the U.S. Yet only six cities (plus Michigan) have laws protecting against it.
While stereotypes exist regarding all different body types — short, skinny, tall and so forth — those reserved for larger body sizes are particularly vicious. Fatness is often associated with laziness, poor hygiene and stupidity, assumptions that can have serious consequences on both a personal and societal level.
So I have to question whether it is a good idea to put up a photo of me.
For me this is a no brainer. If people have these stereotypes of what a photographer is, or what a woman photographer should be and I don’t fit the profile, then I am going to be judged as soon as they see that photo and my work becomes irrelevant. Whereas, if I just have my avatar then it is doesn’t matter who I am and what I do, people fall in love with the work first, well I hope they do.
I know so many are thinking I’m being silly, but it seems to be something that only women who are similar to me understand. When I explain it to them, they totally get it and agree. It is sad to think it happens, but there is no point pretending it isn’t a problem.
My view is use the avatar that I have on all social media, if people love my work and then we meet then hopefully by that stage they don’t care what I look like. I use the same avatar on everything, it is me. I don’t see the point of the face, or the camera in front of the face, or just the camera, there is a sea of those images out there. I like that my avatar stands out and as people get to know me they recognise it.
Hopefully they are silly enough to think that I have to have a photo of me for them to understand I am a real person. You all know that I’m real, right?
What do you think of stereotypes and how people view some groups of people?