Why Do I Look Fatter When I Look Down?


It’s easy to obsess over the image we see reflected back to us in the mirror or captured in photos. Often, this leaves you asking questions like why specific lighting makes you look a certain way, or…

Why do I look fatter when I look down?

You look fatter when you look down at yourself because you are noticing what you see the most of, which is the tummy for most people. People look fatter when looking down in photos because of their chin and neck, which becomes a double chin when a photo is taken from below eye level. 

Below, I’ll go into detail about why you might look fatter when looking down, both when looking down at yourself and when looking down at the camera. I’ll also explain how things like posture, body position, and your viewpoint play a role in what you see.

Why Do I Look Fatter When I Look Down at Myself, But Not in the Mirror?

There are a few reasons that you look fatter when you look down at your body than when you look in the mirror. Things like your point of view, the position of your body, how big your belly is, and how loose your skin is all affect how thin or fat you look when looking down.

How Your Point of View Affects What You See When You Look Down

Sometimes, the reason you look or feel fatter when looking down at yourself is all about the parts of your body you are seeing. When you look at yourself in the mirror, you are seeing the entirety of your body. This makes it easier to see the bigger picture and feel like your different parts are proportional.

When you look straight down at your toes, you are going to see the parts closest to you. Some women might find this is their breasts, but beyond that people are most likely to notice their belly.

Not only does your belly stick out further than your legs in most cases, but it is also the first thing in your line of sight when you look straight down. Since this is where your focus is, it only makes sense that you are going to think you look fatter.

When you look down and don’t see anything but your belly, it’s easy to focus on just that, which can make you feel fatter than you are. Additionally, even if you only think that you look fatter, your mind is going to believe that because that’s what you are focused on at the time.

Body Position

Skin (and any fat underneath) is made up of soft tissues. These tissues are rather pliable and it’s pretty easy for them to get pushed around. This is why body position is so important when it comes to how you look in photos or in the mirror.

Whether you are sitting, standing, or laying down is going to affect how fat or thin you look. Any time you are lying down or standing, your abdomen can stretch out fully so you appear thinner.

By contrast, sitting up makes you bring your legs closer to your body and it compresses everything in the middle. These effects are noticeable even in people who are thin, which is why you see models sitting with their bodies tilted backward when they are in a seated position.

Belly Bloat

There’s also a good chance when you look down at yourself that your belly is sticking out a little more than you are used to, especially if it isn’t early in the morning. Aside from when we first wake up in the morning, most people notice their belly gets bigger over the course of the day and they even look fatter at night.

This happens for a number of reasons. One reason could be that any food or beverages you’ve had during the day are still lingering. It takes 6-8 hours for food to digest enough to move from the belly into the small intestine and as long as 36 hours for waste to pass through the body completely.

Things like eating foods that your body has a hard time digesting could also cause inflammation resulting in belly bloat. Some common irritants include gluten, dairy, red meats, and heavily processed foods.

Furthermore, anything from being in heat, doing an intense workout, water retention, or even the effects of gravity take a toll. When you look down at your belly, this bloating could make you feel fatter than you actually are. You might also notice this bloating when looking at yourself from the side in the mirror, rather than looking straight ahead.

Why Does My Chin Look Fat When I Look Down?

Your chin looks fat when you look down at your body because of the way that you are pushing around excess skin and fat in your chin/neck area. In the same way that sitting down makes belly fat more noticeable because of the way it compresses any fat and skin, looking down at yourself compresses that neck fat and makes it more noticeable.

Skin laxity could be another reason your chin looks fat when you look down. Areas like the face, chin, and neck are all more likely to sag with age. While other areas of the skin develop wrinkles too, these areas develop sagging sooner and are more noticeable.

Things like genetics, skincare, hydration, and even the foods you eat affect how much collagen your body produces and how tight or saggy skin stays as you age. Even being overweight can make you look older because of its effects on the chin and neck area.

Why Do I Look Fatter When I Look Down in Photos?

The reason you look fatter when you look down in photos has nothing to do with having neck and chin fat. Actually, this happens because of your posture, where the camera lens is, or a combination of these two factors.

Camera Position and How Fat Your Face Looks

Any time that you position the camera level lower than eye level, there’s a good chance you’re going to capture a double chin. By elevating the camera, that double chin disappears under your jawline completely.

You can see the difference between these two photos.

eye level camera above eye level

The first photo is taken with the camera at eye level, so the jawline isn’t as taut because of where the camera is. The second photo is taken from above eye level, which makes the double chin disappear completely.

In addition to considering things like the position of the camera, there are a number of other factors that affect how fat or thin you look when taking a picture. Something like poor lighting, for example, makes shadows more apparent. Creating a shadow under your chin is going to make chin and neck fat more noticeable, too.

There’s also a risk of distortion any time that you use a camera. This happens because cameras are taking a 3-dimensional image for the real world and then making it a 2-dimensional flat object. This means that if the camera captures your neck and chin fat, it might make it look worse than it is just because of the way that the camera compresses images.

How Posture Affects Chin and Neck Fat

Your posture and the way you position your neck and chin also affect how fat your face looks. While looking down at the camera results in a double chin, you can also change this by stretching that skin under your neck to make it look smoother.

All you have to do is stretch your neck so it’s straight, put your chin forward, then look down at the camera. Kind of like this.

As you can see, your posture and how you hold your body play a big role when you’re trying to take flattering pictures. By making your neck look longer and getting rid of the chin fat, there’s a noticeable difference in your overall appearance.

Does Looking Fat in Photos Mean That I’m Fat?

No, feeling like you look fat in photos does not mean that’s necessarily the reality. Not only do you have to consider the way that cameras naturally distort images, but factors like lighting, how far the camera is from you, what’s in the background, and your body position all play a role.

This is one of the reasons a lot of us probably hate surprise photos taken at family gatherings. We have no control over a lot of those things, so the photos are generally less-than-flattering.

Final Word

To answer the question of, “Why do I look fatter when I look down at myself?”, the position of your head and body, your perception, belly bloating, and skin laxity all play a role in what you see when looking down. This isn’t necessarily the reality- most people find they don’t look the same when looking down at themselves as they do when they see the full picture in the mirror.

Most people also look fatter when they look down at the camera because of the shadows and double-chin created when it’s positioned below eye level. Things like lighting and your posture can also affect how fat your chin and neck look when taking photos.

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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