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Imagine this. You’re standing on a crowded street or sitting on a bench at the mall, sipping on some coffee and watching all the people go by. As people come closer, it might become apparent that they are actually much smaller than they looked before approaching you.
This trick of the mind isn’t necessarily something that’s limited to the way that you see other people. You will likely also notice that you look bigger from farther away, whether someone is taking a picture of you or you watch yourself walk closer to a mirror that’s across the room.
This phenomenon is something that can leave you wondering, “Why do I look fatter from farther away?”
There are a number of reasons you look fatter from far away before getting closer, many of them involving perception. People look fatter from farther away because there are less details and only the most prominent part of their outline is visible. Additionally, factors like lighting, clothing choices, and posture can also play a role.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at the many answers to the question, “Why do I look fatter from farther away?” Many people worry about their own appearance and how they look to others and understanding how your eyes can play tricks on you can help with building confidence and knowing that you aren’t necessarily as big as you look. And, regardless of how big you think you look from a distance, your own confidence and how comfortable you feel in your own skin is what matters most.
Why Do I Look Fatter From Farther Away?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to making you appear fatter from farther away, whether you’re thin, fat, or in between. Some of these factors, like your posture and the clothes you are wearing and how they fit your body, are things that you have control over. Other factors, like visual compression, a lack of details, comparative size, and others, you don’t necessarily have control over. Let’s take a look at these many reasons now.
Reason 1: Visual Compression
While a person may look bigger to you from farther away, the thing that you won’t notice as much is the finer details. As distance increases, visual details are less distinct and our minds can’t really make out exactly what we are looking at. To compensate, our brains compress this visual information to try to make sense of the broader picture.
To compress this information, our minds usually notice more prominent shapes and contours that stand out. This means a person is more likely to seem bigger because we see the broadest, most prominent parts of their body.
When a person is larger, being seen from a distance can make them seem even fatter than they are for this reason. You’ll also notice that this perception gets worse when a person is wearing baggy or loose-fitting clothes because you cannot see that their clothes don’t fit the frame of their body from a distance.
Reason 2: Simplified Silhouette
Like with visual compression, when you are looking at someone from a distance, you cannot see the finer details. We often don’t notice how much the details about someone change their overall appearance, particularly when we are looking at someone up close.
When you lose the details, however, you also lose the definition of a person’s body shape. The simpler silhouette that you see when looking at a person from a distance makes body proportions a lot less apparent. Additionally, for people who do have larger bodies or one area that is proportionately bigger, looking at the silhouette emphasizes the overall bulk of a person’s body and gives the perception that they are larger.
Reason 3: Comparative Size
In some cases, a person also looks fatter than they are because of their environment and the things around them. Have you ever seen those pictures where someone has their hand out and is “grabbing” the moon or holding the Eiffel Tower between their fingers? It’s the same principle.
When a person is standing in a large, open space, they are going to look bigger by comparison because they are the only person on the horizon. Likewise, if they are surrounded by smaller objects or even smaller people, they could look drastically bigger by comparison.
Can I Do Anything To Look Thinner From A Distance?
When it comes to how you look from a distance, there’s not a lot that you can do as far as changing someone else’s perception. No matter what you actually look like, you still lose a lot of finer details that give clues to your overall size when someone is looking at you from far away.
That being said, there are a handful of things that you can do to avoid looking bigger than you actually are from far away. For starters, you’ll want to choose clothes that fit your body well and that don’t add extra volume to your body. You can also opt for dark or flattering colors, wear the right kind of stripes, polka dots, or other patterns, and avoid layering your clothes, which is going to add bulk to your body.
Anything that elongates your silhouette is also going to help. Wearing heels or elongating your neck with the right type of neckline can make you look proportionately leaner since you are adding length but not width.
Why Do I Look Fatter From Farther Away In Pictures?
We’ve already talked about why you look fat in pictures (and how you can fix it) in another article, so I’m going to keep this section brief.
When it comes to photos, a lot of the factors at play when it comes to why you look fat from farther away are also working here. You don’t notice the finer details from far away and the camera might only pick up the largest parts of your silhouette. Additionally, the environment you are in, lighting and shadows, posture, and clothing can all change how thin or fat you appear.
In addition to these factors, you might look fatter from far away because of the type of lens being used. Certain camera lenses compress images, which causes them to skew and can make you look bigger. Your body angles relative to the background can also change how you look.
When it comes to the reality of perception, it’s important to remember that what a person sees from a distance isn’t necessarily the reality of what is going to be seen up close. What we see is all about how our mind interprets the information in front of us and when the smaller details are lost, our minds only see the most prominent parts of a person and their silhouette.
The reality is that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and the way that our minds perceive them is influenced by a number of factors. While there are things that you can do like choosing clothes that fit well and walking with good posture to elongate your body, you don’t have a lot of control when it comes to why you look fatter from farther away.
For people who are worried about their appearance and how others perceive them, the best bit of advice is to focus on self-confidence instead. By focusing on your self-image and being comfortable and confident in your skin, you can worry less about what you look like from a distance and focus more on loving yourself as you are.