Why You Look Fat From The Front But Skinny From The Side

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woman wondering why she looks fat from the front angle but not the side

Many of us spend time worrying about how we look and finding that perfect outfit. Unfortunately, sometimes you turn to the front or turn to the side and find yourself looking at a completely different image than you saw before.

It really makes you wonder one of two questions. “Why do I look skinny from the front but fat from the side?” Or, “Why do I look fat from the front but skinny from the side?”

You might look fat from the front but skinny from the side because of factors like lighting and distance from the mirror, or because taking a picture with a camera changes how you see yourself. Your own perception of your body and factors like the shape of your body could also play a role.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at why you might look fat from one angle but skinny from another. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what you actually look like so you can feel more confident in your own skin.

Why Do I Look Fat from the Front But Skinny from the Side?

There are a lot of reasons that you might look fat from the front, but skinny from the side. Let’s take a look at why this happens in the mirror and in photos.

Why the Mirror isn’t Always Accurate

Have you ever noticed that you look different in different mirrors? This difference comes from things like the material the mirror is made out of, how thick it is, how old it is, and whether it is framed or unframed. Even things like the color of the walls and lighting in the room make a difference.

This is the reason that you look different at home than when you are trying on clothes in the dressing room mirror, too. With all these things to consider, the reason you might look fatter from the front is that the mirror you’re using distorts your image and changes how you look.

Body Angles and Perception

The other reason you might look fatter in the mirror from the front is because of the shape of your body, how you position it in the mirror, and your own perception of how you look.

When you’re looking at your body and considering how fat or thin you look, typically you are noticing the outermost part of your outline. Looking at yourself straightforward shows you the widest part of your body like your hips and waist, but it doesn’t actually show how thin or fat you are.

When you turn to the side, you can actually see your stomach so you’ll look either thinner or fatter depending on your body shape. You also might look thinner from the side because you’re making small adjustments, like raising one foot or sucking in your stomach without even realizing it.

People make these adjustments because when we look in the mirror, it’s pretty common to see a reflection of whatever image we believe represents us. This isn’t always 100% accurate, especially when you aren’t feeling great about yourself.

Going along with this same idea, you also can’t make noticeable adjustments by holding your breath or sucking in your stomach when you’re looking at the mirror straight on. This is going to change how you look, especially if you don’t realize you’re doing it.

How Distance and Tilt Affect What You’re Seeing

Sometimes, you might look bigger from the front because you’re seeing yourself from farther away. When you get closer to the mirror, you look smaller just because you can’t see your entire body. Likewise, you see more of the background when you’re farther away, so if you are a curvier body, then you will look bigger.

Something else that plays a big factor in body shape is how the mirror is tilted. Mirrors that are tilted slightly closer at the top make the top half of your body look bigger, while mirrors that are tilted closer at the bottom make your waist and thighs appear bigger.

Older mirrors also tend to bow a little as they age, which distorts your image. When they bow forward in the middle, mirrors are convex. You appear rounder because the middle of the mirror is closer to your body. Mirrors that bow inward are concave and make your abdomen appear slimmer.

Why Do I Look Fat When I Face the Camera?

Something else you’ll want to keep in mind is that there’s a big difference between the image you see in mirrors compared to the image of yourself you see in photos. In photos, you may look fat facing the camera because of the way the camera compresses images and turns them into a 2D representation.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, it’s a 3-dimensional image that is looking back at you. This means it’s easier to see your actual curves, whereas a camera is going to make your curves look flat and only capture your outline.

By turning to the side in pictures, some people find the camera is better able to capture the shape of their body without distorting it as much. Things like your body angles and how far away the camera is play a big role in how fat you look in pictures.

Why Do I Look Skinny from the Front but Fat from the Side?

One of the reasons some people look skinnier from the front, but fat from the side, also has to do with perception and the shape of your body. You only notice the outermost part of your body, so if you have a slimmer build but a round belly, then you’re more likely to notice your stomach when you turn to the side.

There’s also a chance that you look fatter from the side because your stomach is bloated. You might look bigger after you finish a big meal, when you’re over-hydrated, if you’ve been working out or running, or if you eat anything that causes inflammation in your body. Some people even look fatter at night because of the effects gravity has on their bodies.

Poor posture or slouching could also make you look fatter from the side. If you aren’t standing straight up, then you’ll look fatter from the side because your stomach is being compressed. When you stand straight and stretch your stomach out, it appears flatter.

How Do I Know if I Look Fat or Skinny?

You should always believe whatever image of yourself makes you feel most confident. While it’s true there are risks and dangers associated with obesity, it is also very possible to be thin and unhealthy. This makes it better to focus on feeling good and being healthy, rather than what you look like on the outside.

For the people who don’t like their body shape, however, there also is nothing wrong with taking steps to change it. Even small changes like drinking more water, walking or being physically active, or altering your diet a little can make a big difference in your overall health.

Final Word

Regarding the question of, “Why do I look fat from the front, but skinny from the side?”, there are a lot of reasons. The mirror you are using, the angle of your body, how far you’re standing from the mirror, its tilt, and distortion are all reasons that you might look bigger than you typically think you are.

For people who look skinny from the front but fat from the side, the cause could be body shape, bloating, or even poor posture. Some of these are things you can fix by standing with good posture and using a high-quality mirror, while others have to do with perception and your body shape. Hopefully, this has answered your questions on this topic.

Camila R.

Camila is a body positive blogger and fat activist that's focused on helping people of all sizes live life big! That means accepting yourself at any size and just enjoying life! She lives in New Mexico with her husband and two chihauhuas.

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