The Psychology Behind Changing One’s Image

image change with a haircut at Cut, Iligan City

Girls do have haircuts when they wish to move on. What could have been the psychology behind such an image change?

Well, it doesn’t happen with girls alone. Boys do express in their own ways a change in their image once they experience a correspondingly eventful crossover in their lives.

Nowadays, expressions of such a change have become a lot easier with the aid of social media.

People change their profile pictures when going through something. It doesn’t always have to be a dramatic event. Sometimes the drive comes from a real success story. You find that evident around a graduation season.

But what is truly interesting is that people change their image not just in social media or by means of haircuts. Some people change almost overwhelmingly when they come to terms with what we call “an encounter with God.â€

They seem to be saying that the God they met was just so out-of-this-world that their whole perspectives just change. Just that.

Now that seems to be overwhelmingly powerful. But it’s not an everyday story. People usually get to the realization of who God is to them, individually and personally, after days and weeks and months of wooing. Years even.

Usually, it’s gradual. Not too fast.

My Sister’s Haircut

Just last Friday afternoon, I went with my sister to a rather known fashion hub in the city we live in. People typically enjoy fast and professional service. Obviously, they like the place for reasons other than mere affordability.

people having a haircut
People love the experience of change in terms of looks, especially with a new haircut. Blessy’s right there, going through the “exciting” process.

More than this, people like the feeling they’d get after the job is done. They’d get their new haircut, and they’d enjoy prettily polished nails.

In fact, before any change even occurred, you would already witness happiness painted like a curve on their faces. My sister just posed for a documentation when I asked her.

Blessy in her pre-haircut smile
My sister immediately striking an excited pre-haircut pose the moment I asked her to

You see, the anticipation of the coming change (which in this case is a change for good) is something that already brings satisfaction to the one who wishes it.

The Psychology Behind the Image Change

The psychology lies simply on the basic idea that people love to feel good, to be satisfied, to feel relieved. And if changing one’s image does all these, it would be worth the effort.

Yes, the effort. Take note that it is the natural tendency of even mere physical objects to resist change and simply keep the status quo.

Any significant change requires some effort

You have seen this in physics. Newton’s second law of motion, that is. Force is required to make a mass accelerate. To be even more accurate, a net force needs to be there, and it should be nonzero.

Essentially, an acceleration, i.e., a change in either speed or direction, can only be made if there is a net effort.

Blessy and her new look
My sister’s new haircut. She likes it, quite obviously.

Obviously, my sister likes her new haircut. But she didn’t come to this achievement without any effort on her part. She had to go to a salon, show her desired cut to the service provider, and pay the amount worth the cut.

But she did it, no sweat

Yes, she may have made some effort, but she did it “no sweat” because of course, you say, she had a service provider do it for her. But that isn’t the point. She still at least paid back that effort by giving some of her hard-earned (or “hard-saved”) money just to get what she wants.

The point is that she was able to give that money up because she loved the end goal: she desired the change.

And anything change-worthy should be effort-worthy.

The effort would seem nothing if the reward was gold

Motivation, that is. The strong motivation to achieve the image change makes the image change a smooth and wonderful experience. The effort doesn’t seem to count anymore once the happy kid gets what he or she wants.

Again, if the reward is satisfaction, the psychology behind an image change simply tells us that while efforts do count, they won’t really matter if all the mind could imagine was the end goal.

People wish to move on

And that’s it. The most fundamental reason for an image change, aside from naming it satisfaction, is moving on. People love to move on from repeatedly getting drowned and down. Now what’s fascinating with human beings is that while the nature of the experience they want to be moving on from may be emotional, they wish to express the change physically. In other words, they would like to have a physical, tangible token for that particular move for change.

As often put, “There is power in a declaration.”

When we declare that we are committing to something, writing that commitment down or making a spoken vow about it simply makes the decision even stronger.

People change their image to seal their commitment

In a natural effort to seal a decision for a U-turn in life, people simply give themselves a new brand. This may be in terms of a new haircut, a closet makeover, a profile picture change, a new SIM card, a new curtain, a reoriented bedroom — or a new anything under the sun that the changing person can think of — as long as the “seal” aligns with the principle behind their behavioral change. This happens almost always naturally, without having to be thought deeply about. And yet it fascinates me that it happens (that’s why I’m writing this).

Yes, it does happen and it is actually good to recognize this “phenomenon” among your friends and peers and even in your own personal life.

The only catch in an image change

The only catch with such a recognition is the discovery that some of your image changes may have actually rooted from a desire to change for the worse, not for the better.

Having said that, we should now begin to understand how a profile picture change may either be worth some congratulations or worth empathizing with.

People may be doing image makeovers for all the wrong reasons, and this is such a cause for concern.

Some of your friends whom you cannot now recognize may actually be going through something. When you notice a friend who has “changed a lot” and has become happier and more blooming, good for you, and good for that friend. But if a friend has become even more secluded, you should know that something must have been wrong and that you should begin taking more time to think empathically about that friend.

Understand your reasons behind an image change and help others understand theirs

As in any case study, it is never enough to understand the psychology behind things, such as an image change. We need to take some action for our own benefit and that of others.

If you would like to take with you anything from this “perspective immersion,” let it be a renewed commitment to examine your own reasons for trying to change your image. Also, try to turn a more empathizing eye to the people around you. They may be down, helpless, seeking to help themselves but to no avail. Better yet, they may simply be happy to close an ugly chapter in their lives. Well then, congratulate them.

My sister is happy with her image change

For a bit of a disclaimer, before I close, my sister (like other girls) sometimes doesn’t really have an extra deep reason for a new haircut (but most of the time, girls do).

Well, the good thing about her image change is that it is certainly for the better. And if she’s closing another chapter, it certainly is a chapter worth learning and moving on from.



    1. Hi Macki. *Mangita ug magbasa pa ko. Hihi. Based on experience lang na nga pag-psycho. Hihi. Kadugayan nimong try og observe og mga tao, mabasa ra man nimo ang behavioral patterns. Hihi. Pero nice pud mangita og studies gid. Ingna ko if naai imohang makita ha? 😀

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