What your Facebook profile picture says about you

Published: October 14, 2011
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I am about to embark on the noble mission of interpreting the many profile pictures I have come across on Facebook.

Sigmund Freud printed Interpretation of Dreams one hundred and eleven years ago. I’m sure he’s turning in his grave right this minute because I’m about to pay tribute to his great work in psychology with one of the most shallow representations of our personalities. I am about to embark on the noble mission of interpreting the many profile pictures I have come across on Facebook.

Please find below my analysis of the top seven worst profile pictures:

1. The ‘I’m too hot to handle’ teenage girl

Description: Hugging a bear and/or posing with a commode visible in the background. The pouty face is mandatory, of course.

The low-down: The subject is sixteen and evidently doesn’t have another human being in her life to take a picture of her outside her bathroom. Well desperate times call for desperate measures –  she chooses to pose before her bathroom mirror. She puts on her most becoming pout, and with one click of her cell phone – the task is complete. She has joined the ranks of many teenage girls in the same pose.

Having come across a multitude of these pictures, the first question that always pops in my head is:

“Is her face is permanently stuck that way? Does she walk around with that pout when she’s making a cup of tea or doing her homework?”

I try the same face as I am doing some laundry. My husband thinks that I am having a seizure. Massive fail.

Therapy: Subject needs to spend more time reading Kafka and less time watching Twilight. 245 times is kinda enough. Moreover, friends commenting on picture with:

Meri jaaan you look sooo cute” are also categorized as mentally challenged.

A piece of advice, get a life – fast.

2. The ‘Look at me, I’m married, suck that, single girlfriend! Ha!’ picture

Description: Wearing a beach hat, hugging her significant other a little too close for public display in the Maldives, Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore. Or in a dimly lit background, holding the husband’s hand, all dressed in her bridal plumage – the wedding photoshoot.

The low-down: The gorgeous wedding-shoot, filled with public-displays-of-affection honeymoon pictures (no matter how repetitive they are) prove very effective, popular ways to make single cousins, girlfriends, and colleagues hate the subjects’ guts for at least a good year. The subject must remember, however, that comments filled with ‘hearts’ and ‘hearty congratulations’ in them are all typed through gritted teeth – or fingers. They, thus, must learn that there is more to life than making friends envious. Also the subject must stop thinking that life’s a song from a Shah Rukh khan movie sung at the mountain tops with Kajol flinging her sari pallu every which way.

Therapy: The alarm bell that rings loud when in comes to serving the in-laws you live with.  Also proven to be very effective cures for the self-righteous married woman are babies. Morning feeding, changing nappies, and baby vomit can bring you back to reality like no other.

3. The mommy pictures

Description: Pictures of a heavily pregnant mothers or pictures with all seven children playing in the pool, with number 8 on the way.

The low-down: These are the women who put up week-by-week photo shoots of their protruding bellies with their husbands kneeling at their knees. These shots just scream out for attention. As if the constant status updates of morning sickness, cravings and heart burns weren’t enough, we have to deal with weekly updates of the amount of weight you have gained and how your husband loves you despite this fact. Give me a break

Therapy: Try bed-rest, and read up on what to do after the baby is born. One thing’s for sure, you won’t get to pose so regularly when this happens. As a side-note, please don’t put up yet another picture of your toddler. Some day, he will have a profile of his own.

4. The ‘Faarin’ picture

Description: Standing with hands on the hips, sunglasses on, love handles accentuated by the tight tee procured from a discount shop in Satwa. Yeah baby.

The low-down: Just so you know, most Middle-Eastern countries have a color coded system. Brown people (that means us) are at the bottom tier. Everyone knows we clean toilets and wash floors. Oriental people are one step above, at managerial positions. White people (anyone with blue eyes is A-okay) head everyone at big corporations and boss the unfortunate Browns around. Then there’s the Emirati/Arab who’s just paid to sit ad look like an Emirati/Arab. So posing next to that phallic-shaped representation of Middle-Eastern glory is not only a Freudian nightmare but also a glaring proof that you’re living inside a deluded little bubble.

Therapy: Reality check. See that white guy who is less educated and has a better payscale? There’s your answer.

5. The narcissist

Description: Extensively photoshopped close-ups that give you a glow while everyone else around you looks dull and lifeless. These pictures are cropped so that you look extra-thin. These come with the anticipated:

“You look so thin. You totally don’t need to diet” comments from friends who obviously haven’t seen you in a long time.

This category also includes pictures in which you are shaking hands with the President, or a well known celebrity.

The low-down: Subject extensively uses the ‘Diffuse Glow’ filter into fooling virtual friends. They must also remember that cropped Facebook pictures do not show jiggling bellies, hence all the ‘don’t diet’ comments. Celebrity-stickered pictures are unnecessary. Everyone knows you met Atif Aslam after there hours of stalking him backstage; he doesn’t come over for coffee every Friday at your nani jan’s place and he does not play badminton with you on hot summer days.

Therapy: Try taking a good hard look in the mirror. When it cracks, it’s time to go on Atkins -for six months.

6. The niqabi paradox.

Description: These include the conservative picture in which the subject doesn’t want to give away too much of his/her identity. They include veiled pictures on Facebook, just hands with henna,  fingernails, silhouettes, and random cartoons.

The low-down: It is a great assertion of faith that the subject wears a niqab. It is ironic, however, that she thinks that a veiled picture of herself is an apt profile picture. It does not matter if the mobile phone has fifteen thingamajigs jingling from its rear or if the henna is a reprint of Kate Middleton’s wedding gown lace. It doesn’t matter if the fingernails are painted like a zebra or a cobra or a lollypop. Fingernails are gross, nobody cares about henna patterns and profile pictures are meant to be of your face. End of story.

Therapy:  May I suggest an all-girls Facebook? Or that Muslim Facebook they came up with once people started boycotting Zuckerberg’s original thing?

7. The ‘who am I’ guy

Description: Black and white, baseball cap askew, two heavy chains hanging from neck. Two fingers held up and shorts hanging by a thread. Dr. Dre reincarnate. This category also has pictures of Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Edward Norton in Fight Club, Justin  Bieber or Katrina Kaif.

The low-down: The subject is either really ugly in real life or fixated in the stage where they fail to understand that celebrities are just images the media creates to keep a market going. Subjects who think they are African-American rappers are uncomfortable accepting that it’s easier being green. There is nothing wrong with being a Pakistani and the word ‘ghetto’ is strictly applied to neighbourhoods like Harlem not Model Town, Lahore.

Therapy:  Dear Deluded, your mom likes to make gobi parathas for breakfast and you gobble them up with mango pickle. Get real.

Disclaimer: the author is guilty of fitting into one or the other category at some point in her life. We can’t win ‘em all.

Mahwash.Badar.

Mahwash Badar

The author is a clinical psychologist, a mum to two boys and permanently in a state of flux. She tweets @mahwashajaz_ (twitter.com/mahwashajaz_)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.