Why Do I Look Fat In My Driver’s License Picture? (7 Reasons)

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Why Do I Look Fat in My Driver's License Picture

If you’re unhappy with how you look in your driver’s license picture, chances are, you aren’t alone. Many of us absolutely dread seeing the photo on our finished ID or driver’s license and unfortunately, it sticks with us for the next several years and has to be seen every time we pull out our license.

And, we can’t all be unphotogenic, right?

This can leave you wondering, “Why do I look fat in my driver’s license photo?”

You might look fatter than you actually are in your driver’s license photo because of the angle of the camera, the width of the camera lens, and the lighting at the BMV. Your posture, facial expression, clothing, bloating, and even your perception of the photo may also play a role in how fat you look.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at the different reasons you may look fatter in your driver’s license photo, as well as what you can do to take better pictures for your license.

Why Do I Look Fat In My Driver’s License Photo?

Truthfully, there are a lot of reasons that you might look fatter in your driver’s license than you typically do when taking a photo. To begin with, factors like the wide-set camera lens, the straightforward angle being used, and the unflattering light typically found in BMV settings is going to change how your face looks.

Additionally, some people look fatter because of things they do have control of, like their posture, facial expression, actual bloating, or the clothes they are wearing. Your own perception of yourself also changes what you see when you look at your license photo, so that may also play a role.

Reason 1: The Width Of The Lens

The specific camera used by the BMV is going to change based on jurisdiction and as technology advances. That being said, the BMV most commonly uses cameras that are fast, user-friendly, and consistent across different jurisdictions, rather than focusing on cameras that produce a high-quality image.

While BMV cameras do capture all your features like your hair color, eye color, and general facial features, they are not as detailed as the average person’s cell phone camera.

Additionally, they are likely to skew the image at least slightly because of how they are designed, as most BMV cameras are likely standard or wide lens, which are not the most flattering for taking images. Wide angle lenses in particular can skew the face and make it look rounder, thus making it appear fatter.

Reason 2: The Camera Angle

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is pretty particular about how they want each person to look into the camera when they sit for their driver’s license photo. Typically, you sit down with your face looking directly ahead, without any tilting of your chin or angling your face to the side.

If you’ve ever tried to master the art of the perfect selfie, then you’ll know that the last thing you want to do is look straight ahead into the camera, especially if you’re trying to draw attention away from a double chin. The angle of your face and body has a lot to do with how fat you look (or don’t look) in pictures.

So, when the person at the BMV makes you look directly at the camera, there’s no angling your face to get the proportions that you’re used to when taking pictures. Additionally, looking right at the camera can make features like a double chin more pronounced.

Reason 3: Unflattering Light

Lighting can make a world of difference when it comes to how flattering or unflattering a picture is. This is one of the reasons why you’re likely to find soft, flattering lighting in places like boutiques, where clothing is more expensive and it’s really important that a person likes how they look in the mirror.

The BMV doesn’t necessarily care how flattering or unflattering the light is. In fact, you’re most likely to find that your local BMV has the typical harsh, fluorescent lighting that you might find in public bathrooms. This type of lighting can make you look washed out and it can also create deeper shadows on your skin. The contrast and shadows have a way of making your face look rounder, particularly when they happen under the chin or jawline.

Reason 4: Your Posture and Facial Expression

While a lot of how fat you look in your driver’s license photo comes down to things like the specific camera and the bad lighting in the BMV, you do have some control over the final picture. That isn’t to say that changing your posture and facial expression is going to make you love the final picture, but it can help with making your face a little less round.

You see, when you slouch, it brings your head closer to your chest and shoulders. With less room here, the skin tends to bunch up. This can make you look like you have a rounder, fatter face, create a double chin where there wasn’t one, or make you appear more aged.

Something else that can make your face appear rounder is your facial expression. If you don’t smile in your driver’s license photo, the slack in your chin and cheeks can make extra skin that is common with age or fat around your chin more apparent.

Smiling also can make some people’s cheeks appear fuller or look rounder, particularly if you do have facial fat. So, the best solution is to practice your smile before going to the BMV and see what works best for your face. Keep in mind that the camera will likely be facing directly at you, which is going to change how you’d typically smile for a picture.

Reason 5: How You Are Dressed

In some cases, the clothing you are wearing can affect how fat your face looks. This is going to change based on the person and their features, like the natural shape of their face or how long their neck is.

For some people, for example, a turtleneck is going to draw attention to the length of the neck and look elegant. For others, however, it can make you look a little like a floating head and it can also draw attention to the roundness of your face and make it look fatter.

V-neck lines are something else to be wary of. While they are flattering on some people, the wrong type of neckline can also make you look a little like a bobblehead in your ID photo, particularly if you have a rounder face. If you do have a short or wide neck, scoop necks, keyhole tops, or button-down tops are all a good choice. Just pay attention to how the shoulders and neck look with your face, since that is the only part of your body that will be showing in your driver’s license photo.

Accessories, hair, and makeup matter, too. When it comes to jewelry, remember that simpler is likely better for most people. Having too much jewelry around the neck is going to look clunky and make it appear shorter, which can make your face look fatter by comparison.

For people who wear glasses, you may need to wear these in your driver’s license photo. The glasses you choose can make your face look fatter, as can certain types of makeup. Be aware of this as you get ready for your photo.

You should also choose a flattering hairstyle that frames your face well, instead of combing it straight back or choosing a style that draws attention to the roundness of your face. Additionally, men should be wary of how they shave their face, as shaving can make your face look fatter as well.

Reason 6: Bloating

Some days, you may find that you look fatter than others because you actually are. It’s very normal for a person’s weight to fluctuate based on things like water retention and even how much sleep they got the night before. While you shouldn’t let this deter you from getting your photo taken, avoiding activities that make your weight fluctuate can help if you are worried about your BMV photo.

Reason 7: Your Own Perception of the Photos

The final answer to why you look fat in your driver’s license photo? It’s because you think that you look fatter.

When it comes to what we see in the mirror or in photos, what we see can actually change based on our thoughts. When you take a photo for your driver’s license, it isn’t always flattering because it doesn’t look like what you are used to seeing. People shift their faces or the camera when taking pictures of themselves without even realizing it sometimes, because we find that angle more attractive.

This means that when you see your driver’s license photo, even if there’s really nothing wrong with it, your brain may not like it simply because it isn’t taken at the angle that you’re used to. This alone can make you feel like you look fatter in your ID photo.

Why Do I Look Fat In ID Photos?

There are a number of reasons you may look fatter in ID photos than you do when taking a selfie or being photographed by someone else. For starters, the camera that is being used, the lighting, and the angle of the camera are all going to play a role in how fat your face looks.

Next, you also have to remember that factors like what you are wearing, your posture, and your facial expression are going to change what the final picture looks like. Something like bloating can also make your face look rounder, as can your own perception of the picture and how you think you look, regardless of the reality may be.

Final Word

So, to wrap it up, there are a number of answers to “Why do I look fat in my driver’s license picture?”

There are some things that you have control over, like the shirt that you are wearing, factors like glasses, hair, makeup, or facial hair, and your posture and facial expression. The rest of it though, like the unflattering camera lens and angle and the harsh light at the BMV are things you don’t have control over.

Hopefully, by understanding all these things that can affect how fat your face looks in your ID photo, you can take control over those things you do have control of and end up with a more flattering photo. If not, then you’ll have to try again next time you renew! Don’t worry- you aren’t the only person out there stuck with a driver’s license photo that you hate!

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