The phenomenon of the webcam girl is perhaps the most baffling of all things in the modern world. How is it possible that there are people who look so good on webcam that there are other people willing to give them actual money just to look at them on webcam? I feel like the weird lighting of your house, the graininess, and the requisite sound delay make the whole thing unsexy by default. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that you look 87% less hot on Google Hangout than in real life.*
But in this, our rapidly shifting universe, there will come a time when you need to make yourself presentable via Skype or something like it: Friends and lovers move abroad, get deployed, or decide having a cell phone is a racket, you decide you want to look at your sister’s face and she’s off at college in Vermont, a company in Seattle wants to make sure you don’t have a face tattoo before they hire you sight unseen, whatever. It’s incredibly stressful, because not only do you have to look like yourself/professional/hot, you also have to give the other person your undivided attention and make eye contact, unlike phone chatting. That said, there are some steps you could take so you can feel confident and attractive.
My first, and best, suggestion is to be really good looking in real life. That will get you pretty far in this whole Skype game. Barring that, check out some ideas after the jump.
The single best determinant for looking nice in this context is lighting. If it’s daytime, situate yourself near as much soft, natural light as you can. I opened my blinds and turned on a nearby lamp, but you should work with what you’ve got. If it’s nighttime, avoid the ever-flattering fluorescent lights and make use of the fixtures nearby. Either way, try to get a light behind your camera so that you’re facing it. If you stop reading this after right now, you’ve already done your chin a ton of favors.
Okay, so you’re set up and well-lit and you’re good to go. Ha! Ha ha. Ha ha ha. No. Now, you need to look around you and make sure your area is clean and tidy. Maybe don’t do a job interview with a bong in the frame, or let your mom see the collection of beer bottles littering the area around your bed. While you’re at it, make sure you’re wearing pants and pick out a shirt that is a solid color. The camera isn’t awesome at processing patterns, so stop trying to make “fetch” happen and skip plaids and stripes.
Now you want to make sure you’re definitely making eye contact with the other party and that you’ve framed yourself nicely. It’s tempting to look at the picture you’re seeing on the screen, but you want to make love to the camera, as it were. I put a little post-it note slightly above my iPad and write LOOK AT ME in big letters. Angling the camera downwards ever so slightly also makes your face look less long and wide, which can’t do anything but help. Don’t lean in too close and sit up straight. You want to look confident regardless of what you’re doing on your videochat, and this is how you do that.
Lastly, remember to talk clearly and a little more slowly than usual. This is hard for me as someone with a “strong regionalism” (Southern accent + fast talking + a tendency to interrupt because I think I know everything), but is crucial for successful Skype interactions of all kinds. The sound delay makes a fool of us all, my brothers and sisters.
If you are a dude, you’re as presentable as social expectations require you to be! Congratulations and also enjoy all the other goodies in your privilege knapsack. If you’re a lady who chooses to wear makeup, here come the game-changers.
Did you do theatre or dance ever? If yes, think of this as a kind of stage makeup. If no, learn what stage makeup is real quick and then come back. What I’m trying to say is that you would never actually go out like this in public and you will feel absurd when you look in a mirror. The good news is this is way faster and easier to apply and remove than all that shellac.
Step one: get bronzer and run it around the perimeter of your face and in the hollows of your cheeks. Go hard in the paint; your face looks kinda flat on webcam and this is going to give you dimension. Remember: no one can see you and you’re not going to look like Snooki on your webcam. Really cake it on.
Step two: fill in your eyebrows. This is a lot of bang for your buck and frames your face. At some points in this interaction, you’re going to be so grainy it’s comical, so this will keep you looking like a human for a little longer. I know you feel like a clown. It’s okay. No one can see you except your video camera.
Step three: put on lipstick. Any lipstick. Seriously. It doesn’t matter. You’re just trying to maintain the shape of a face and this will make your lips look like they’re in the right place. I favor something darker for the same reasons I listed above.
Extra credit: do a little teeny bit of eyeliner at the edge of each eye, put a little bit of highlighter on your cheekbones, smudge a tiny bit of bronzer in your eye’s crease. All of this is just going to give you more dimension, but the first three steps take less than 30 seconds and will get you most of the way there.
Free tip: If you have long hair, take it down and push it all on one side– no one can tell if you’ve gone a couple days between washes, and it softens your face.
Okay, so now you’re good to go! Make sure you check in the preview window before accepting the call to be sure you don’t have something in your teeth or a booger hanging down. Good luck with your interview! Have fun catching up with your cousin! Don’t be too loud while you’re getting sexy! Knock ’em dead, Tiger.
*No, it hasn’t.