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The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 brought about a lot of changes in the work world. As people isolated to prevent the spread, it also became important for people to find ways to continue working and earning an income to provide for their families.
Many companies sent workers home to work remotely. This was achieved using the many types of technology available to us, including using Zoom for work meetings.
For many people, this also left them wondering, “Why do I look fatter on Zoom?”
People look fatter on zoom because the camera lens sits below eye level and accentuates shadows that make their faces look rounder. Things like lighting, posture, camera resolution, and our perception of our faces also affect how fat we look.
Below, I’ll break down these six reasons you might look fatter on Zoom and how each of them affects what your face looks like.
Why Do I Look Fatter on Zoom?
People look fatter on Zoom for a number of reasons, some of them having to do with the camera they are using and others having to do with things you can control, like posture and lighting. Let’s take a closer look.
1. The Position of Your Face Relative to the Camera
Many of us use Zoom for work and other meetings on our laptops so that we can go hands-free. In most cases, when you sit at a table or desk, your laptop is going to be positioned below your face and chin.
Even though the camera lens is typically located at the top of the laptop, it still ends up being positioned below eye level. Any time the camera is below eye level, it creates shadows under your face and makes your neck look fatter than it is. It can also create a double chin or make your double chin look more prominent if you have one.
The distance of your face from your laptop’s camera lens can also make your face look fatter than it is, especially since people in Zoom meetings are usually sitting close to their laptops. When you get that close-up picture of your face without your neck, shoulders, or body to give clues about proportion, your face naturally looks bigger.
2. The Focal Point of the Camera
The focal point of the camera is whatever part of your face is most prominent when you’re sitting at the computer. If you have your forehead tilted toward the camera, for example, your forehead is going to look bigger than the rest of your face.
With the exception of when you are looking down at the mouse or keyboard, however, you aren’t usually going to have your forehead as the focal point. The average position of the camera lens on a laptop sits around your chin level. When your chin, neck, and under-chin are brought into focus, most people end up with a rounder face shape that makes them look fat.
3. Your Posture
The way that you hold your body, particularly your neck and shoulders, plays a big role in how wide your face is going to look on Zoom. Straightening your neck out makes it look longer and slims out any fat that you might have under your chin, whereas keeping your neck and shoulders bent compresses the extra skin in this area and makes your face look fatter.
Additionally, if you are sitting with your neck bent or your back hunched over while at the computer, it brings you closer to your laptop’s camera. As I mentioned earlier, being closer to the camera means that people can mostly see your face without around it for size reference.
4. The Lighting in Your Home or Office
Lighting is another one of those things that play an important role in your overall appearance and how your skin. This is true for all types of cameras and it is also one of the reasons you look different in different mirrors.
If you’re sitting in your office under harsh fluorescent lights, odds are it won’t do any favors for your skin. Fluorescent lighting creates yellow tones in your skin, which can make you look physically unwell.
By contrast, most people look better under natural lighting. However, the direction and harshness of the lighting also make a difference in your overall appearance.
Harsh light that shines straight down creates shadows under your chin that make your face appear fatter than it is. Direct light also accentuates blemishes, flaws, and unevenness in your skin tone. By contrast, soft light that comes from all directions evens out your skin tone. It helps reduce the appearance of flaws, so skin has a smoother appearance.
5. Camera Resolution
Camera resolution plays a big role in the image that is captured by a camera. With high-resolution cameras like the ones you find in newer smartphones, the resulting image is just better. Plus, many of them automatically adjust settings so you’re getting good lighting in more of your photos.
Something else to consider is that many newer smartphones have a “beauty mode” or “retouch” feature with their cameras. This can be turned on and off, but it basically smooths over blemishes, reduces redness, and basically retouches any photos that you take before you see them.
Laptop cameras rarely have features like these because while they are designed to capture photos and video, they aren’t people’s primary devices for doing these things. They also have lower camera resolution for the same reason.
With poor camera resolution, images are more likely to become pixelated. This is especially true if you blow them up and make them bigger, which might happen if you’re presenting to the group or are speaking. You may not notice camera resolution as much when your image is in one of those tiny Zoom boxes.
Finally, keep in mind that the cameras that smartphones and laptops have are wide-angle lenses. This means that the closer you are to the lens, the wider your face is going to look because of how the camera distorts your image.
6. Your Perception
Finally, while Zoom calls tend to make most people look less-than-flattering, there is a chance that your face doesn’t actually look as big as you think it does. You might not like the way that you look just because your brain isn’t used to seeing your face from that angle.
When we see an image, it isn’t always a perfect representation of what exists in the physical world. While our eyes do capture what we see, they communicate what we are seeing to our brains.
This means that when our brains relay information about what we are seeing, there is room for error or for the brain to trick our mind into thinking we see something different. The problem with this is that because we aren’t used to seeing ourselves through the Zoom app, our brains often communicate that we don’t like what we see.
You see, brains tend to rely on patterns and their memories when it comes to how they relay information about the real world. Your brain remembers your face being a certain way. This means that when it’s mirrored back to you or when you take a photo from a different angle than normal, you might just automatically not like it for that reason.
Why Do I Look Different on Zoom Than I Do in Pictures?
The reason people look different on Zoom than they do in pictures is that in most cases, you are using different cameras. If you are using your phone to take pictures, then you have a lot more control over factors like lighting, camera angle, and camera distance.
Additionally, while there are laptops out there that boast high-resolution cameras, people aren’t really worried about this feature as much when they buy work laptops. The result is a lower-resolution camera that doesn’t always provide that same quality picture.
Lower-resolution cameras also don’t have the same image quality as one that you’d find on one of the latest iPhones or Androids. This means that what you’re seeing is more skewed and distorted than it would be using a better-quality camera.
There are a lot of reasons that you might look fatter on Zoom. Sometimes, the resolution of your laptop camera is to blame. Other times, the lighting or angle of the camera changes how you look, too. There is also a chance that you only think your face looks bigger because your brain is unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the differences it’s seeing in your face.
Hopefully, this has cleared up any questions you might have regarding, “Why do I look fatter on Zoom?” Try not to be too harsh on yourself, particularly if you can’t really change the camera angle or lighting in your office.
Also, keep in mind that everyone else in your Zoom meeting is likely going through the same issues. There’s no reason not to feel as confident about how you look- chances are everyone else is more worried about what they look like anyway.