My jaw literally dropped when I saw the dramatic difference in appearance in sets of photos taken by blogger Maria Southard Ospina in her March 11, 2016 article “27 Photos Of My Fat Face That Prove Camera Angle Is Everything” — and you will be blown away too. Her experiment was to take photos of her face in both flattering and unflattering angles, and then analyzed how and why the shots were so different just by adjusting things like the angle, and how lighting and even a scarf or collar can be the difference be a double-chin and a chiseled jawline. Her experiment did not include Photoshop; Maria could only use the camera itself and positioning her body in front of the camera.
“…with the help of my partner slash photographer, I began to see just how straightforward it is to make yourself look thinner or fatter.”
And that brought a reminder of a meme a photographer friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day, something about the constant request from clients to make them look good and thinner with post-editing and camera angles. People want to look their best when they have a photo that captures a specific moment in time and other people will see it. Why is that so bad? Is it because some people believe that doing so is deceiving? That image of a person (the selfie or whatever) can have the subject looking one way, and in real life they are say 50 or even 100 pounds heavier.
But appearing to be thinner in photos wasn’t Maria’s goal. What she was trying to achieve was to simply show honesty, and she strives to communicate in her article that the “imagery we consume and allow others to consume should be…as realistic as possible.” And it further proves that what you see in magazines isn’t real — it’s a deceptive mirage that is so convincing that we willingly believe that perfection is the norm.
In the age of online consumption of images, media and lots of other visual things, we set ourselves up to constantly accept that perfection is the norm. But perfection as a cultural norm is a lie, as humans are flawed and we lie. We lie all the time. And we lie because we don’t want to look fat even if we are fat, because as Maria pointed out that
“Fatness is among[st] the characteristics most stigmatized in contemporary culture.”
Bingo. Just appearing fat is scary — so much so that we will move our bodies, heads, arms, whatever around in front of the camera for the most flattering angle. Don’t tell me you don’t do it. We all do it. Inside each of us is a sliver of vain-ness that knows our Facebook profile picture needs to be crazy cute, sexy, etc. otherwise people might not like us, be impressed, or whatever idea we have of what that image of ourselves represents.
So next time you pick up a phone to take that next selfie, what do you do? Do you angle your face to look thinner? Or do you smile with no regards to the outcome, when a sliver of time is captured with your face in it with the simple sound of the camera shutter’s click? Will you hide your chins or embrace all that is you?