The DOs and DON'Ts of a Main Profile Picture

I am a registered member of a dating site called OKCupid. One of the unique features of the site is you can write Journal entries, which I occasionally do. I posted the entry below a few days ago and I couldn’t believe how defensive some of the guys got. It was like I had personally attacked their masculinity with my simple tips on how to choose the right main profile photo.

Here’s the post:

Okay guys, listen up. I’m going to let you in on a couple of secrets about what goes through the mind of a woman when she looks at your profile and decides whether or not to read it or click the dreaded Hide button.

You have less than five seconds to catch our interest. This is the order in which most woman I know would notice things in your profile:

1. The first thing we look at is your MAIN photo.

2. The second thing is your screen name. Screen names like “PatheticLonelyGuy” and “Just4Sex” say a lot about who you are, how you feel about yourself, and what you’re looking for.

3. The three adjectives.

4. The first sentence in your profile (if we get that far).

Lesson 1: The Profile Picture

This is all about that very first picture we see. The rest of the photos shouldn’t follow all of these suggestions.

These are the DOs for your MAIN profile photo:

1. Headshot that clearly shows you from the shoulders up.

2. Smiling please. No one wants to date a sour puss.

3. Face the camera. No profiles.

4. Make sure the shot is in focus.

5. Recent photo.

6. Look directly into the camera. I realize I violated this with my original profile shot I had up, but there are exceptions to every rule.

These are the DON’Ts:

1. No hats. We want to see your hair or your chrome dome, as the case may be.

2. No sunglasses. We don’t trust you if we can’t see your eyes. How would you feel if you met a woman for a date and she never took off her sunglasses? Would you trust her.

3. Shot of you from far far away. Save that for the second or third photo.

4. No dead animals land or sea. A shot of you in a fishing hat and sunglasses holding up a dead fish does absolutely nothing to ignite the passions in a woman.

5. No photos of yourself in the bathroom. I take self shots a lot, but you’ll never see a bathroom mirror, shower stall or toilet in the background!

To be cont’d…



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4 thoughts on “The DOs and DON'Ts of a Main Profile Picture

  1. Reply
    Jmartens - December 22, 2009

    These are great tips for any online profile, not just dating! I have made it a point to use a consistent profile pic for all of my online accounts. I only violate 1 of your rules…my pic is about 3 or 4 years old and I now weigh more and have facial hair. I just love it though!

  2. Reply
    James - December 23, 2009

    Seems straightforward, and it is your opinion – I’m perplexed why anyone would take you to task for it. What feedback do men have? The advice applies to women as well, I have seen a lot of bogus photos. The rating method has or had a can’t tell rating, which I would use a lot.
    When it comes down to it, this is all about personal branding and being appealing and authentic with your okcupid profile… At least enough to get people to read your profile. Well, if being appealing and authentic is important to you at is true some women dig hat-wearing, ill-described squirrel-hunters with fuzzy outdated pictures, but it doesn’t do much for me either.

  3. Reply
    kellyjo - December 23, 2009


    I think the guys who had a problem with it:

    A) Had profile pictures that were in the DON’Ts category.
    B) Didn’t like being told what to do.

    It is really simple, straightforward, common sense. It applies to women as well. The biggest complaint that I’ve heard from men is that the women don’t usually look like their pictures when they meet up in person. Either they haven’t posted a full body shot, or they’ve posted an old picture.

  4. Reply
    kellyjo - December 23, 2009


    You don’t look like your picture in person because of the facial hair. It is a good picture, but you need a more recent one unless you plan to shave soon. :^)

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