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Debunking “fit” bodies on social media

by Iris Wong 6 months ago in photography

10 hacks to take pictures in a flattering way

Debunking “fit” bodies on social media
Same body. Same metabolism. Same diet and training. Different postures.

Lately I've been seeing quite a lot of posts on various social media pages revealing why you shouldn't trust social media pictures of fit people who you consider as “body goals”.

I believe it is an amazing initiative, considering that, in current times, body insecurity is a significant psychological issue that not only affects a huge part of the world's population, but in fact consumes their entire being and determines the health of their lifestyles. Many people surround and build themselves around the idea that beauty is only attained by having a perfect body, and having people –even random strangers on social media– approve you for it. That if you're not capable of achieving it, you're either not beautiful, not worth looking at, or not worthy of somebody's love –even your own.

Now, I will specially direct this toward women's pictures, because I believe they're the gender that's been most judged for their body since ancient times. I am definitely not saying that men or any other gender do not receive this kind of treatment, or that they do not develop insecurity around their bodies. But since it is women's body the one that has been objectified since forever, it is only reasonable to think that they're also the ones who have suffered most criticism body-wise.

Nonetheless, I would also like to say that this post isn't only directed to –let's say– “comfort” bodily insecure women by telling them that those body goals aren't real; but also to share with women in general how they can appear “fitter” in their photos, in case they wish to portrait said image. With this, additionally, I would like to teach men that the “hot” women they see on the Internet aren't always nor necessarily “hot” (understood as someone fit, with a nice body), as clothes, camera positioning, posture, lighting, etc. can be highly deceiving to the human eye.

This is not to send them or anyone the message that “socially hot women are actually fat or ugly” –by whatever criteria, that will never the case–, but it is to show them that they cannot hold the expectation of women having a socially perfect body, and much less a 100% of the time; because that same perfection is not and will never be real, and to believe the contrary would be nothing but fooling themselves into a societal illusion.

Now, as I introduced earlier, there are plenty of online posts and multimedia nowadays that prove and spread this way of thinking, but there are much fewer ones that actually explain how these images are being taken to appear in such a “desirable” manner. That is why, in this post, I intend to reveal some of the methods used to trick the human mind.

1. Wearing high-waisted pants.

High-waisted means that the pants do not solely cover your bum and hips, but also part of your waist/torso. Naturally, seen from any perspective, all bums are shaped in an outward manner in comparison to the lower back or waist. Thus, wearing clothes that cover both the bum and the part of the body immediately above, accentuates the angle formed by the waist/lower back and the butt, making the latter seem more voluminous than it would seem if it were naked or with low-waisted pants.

Illustration found in a discussion.

This works not only with tight clothes, but also with loose ones such as track pants or mom/boyfriend jeans. This ones actually flatter even more the glutes, as they are of a looser and more voluptuous fabric, and thus add volume to your actual glutes.

2. Pulling the sides of your panties all the way up to your belly button/waist.

This provides the same effect as before. The angle that you see is not truly the size of your booty/thighs, but the inclination when going from the waist to the hip/bum, which are naturally wider than the waist and do not necessarily require a super fit nor lean body to make it seem so.

Photo taken from @kimfrench87 's Instagram account, a fitness coach that I personally follow (and highly recommend both for workouts and physical health, as well as mental health around bodies).

3. Wearing pants that have particular details on the upper part of the bum.

Since I don't have this sort of leggings (neither the undergarments shown in the previous picture), I will insert some pictures of a fitness coaches that I follow, which clearly show the difference between wearing plain pants and pants with meticulously thought-out details.

Screenshots taken from @kimfrench87 's Instagram account.

1. As you can see, the additional fabric on the upper glutes (in this case, the wings on the purple shorts in the left image) naturally add some volume to the bum, in comparison to the single-layered fabric of the yellow shorts on the right picture.

Screenshots taken from @kimfrench87 's Instagram account.

2. In this one, we can see two types of details in the yellow shorts on the left that create a perceptual difference with the plain dark gray shorts on the right: (1) The smocking or gatherings down the middle of the pants, in-between both glutes, and (2) the lines that draw a triangular contouring of the upper bum.

Both can be found separately on leggings (and the design in the picture is just one example of many), and they both have the same function, which is to highlight and make more evident the shape of the booty. On the gray shorts you can see that, although the model already has a voluptuous bum, you can hint its shape less than with the yellow shorts (also, let's not forget that she's squatting down in these pictures, and that if she were standing up, the shape and volume of the glutes would be much different).

Now, let's switch to posing:

4. Pull and hold your leg back to tense the glute.

If you're taking a picture from the side, pull back the leg you have behind and turn your body a bit backwards until you feel like you've reached the angle in which your back buttock bulges the most. Do that in front of a mirror and you'll see the difference between standing straight and slightly lifting up your back leg. This happens because having your leg like that tenses the glute muscle and, although the under booty appears a bit uglier or flatter, the upper booty is quite accentuated.

5. Lift and round your bum by standing on your toes.

From the same angle as before, if you stand with both feet at a normal width, you can position either one of them on your toes.

If you lift up the front leg's toes, you can also try to slightly lift up the hip that you have on the front. This pose will make that side of the booty look rounder, as the line of the glute is directly followed by the line of the hamstring.

If instead you push your hips to the direction of your back leg, aside from the previous effect, it will also make your back bum look bigger. This position puts all the weight to your back leg, and so it flexes/tenses that side of the glutes and accentuates the angular line formed between the under bum and the hamstring of that leg.

Alternatively, if you lift up the back leg's toes, though, try pushing your hips to the front side, where you would have the camera or mirror. Altogether, this will make your bum look bigger, as not only does it seem rounder because of the continuation to your hamstring, but also because, by pushing your hip, you can see a bit of your lower bum (not only the side); which visually blends in –especially with black leggings– with the side bum when seen from this angle (i.e. it "adds some meat" to your side booty).

6. Just sit down!

If you're sitting down, squatting, or crouching in any way (i.e. not standing up), your bum will also look bigger from any angle (front, rear and sides) for two reasons: (1) The width of your hip complements the width of your booty, and (2) the "meat" in your glutes is squished by the surface you're sitting on, making it spread to the sides and backwards.

7. Put the camera at a lower height.

When taking pictures of your bum, it is more flattering to put the camera on a lower level. That is, not at shoulder level like when you're taking a selfie in front of a mirror, not at waist level either –as these two angles will actually make your bum and legs look disproportionately smaller–, but rather at a side/under booty level.

That way, the main or most forward element in the picture will be your butt, which means it will appear bigger than the rest of the surrounding elements in the picture, and any bulk of meat or cutting angle from one muscle to another will be more easily captured on camera.

Abs, on the other hand, are not as easy to “pretend” or “lie” about.

There was this time when contouring make-up was used, not only to make your face look slimmer, but also to make your breasts look bigger (by accentuating the shadows in your cleavage), to literally draw some ab lines, or even the famous V-lines. I think this trend, however, didn't persist that much in time, so I doubt that now many people still do that on social media. Therefore, unless you really have some lines (whatever lines, really, even if they're born from clusters of fat), it is quite difficult to show “abs” on camera.

If you do, though, here are some methods to accentuate them:

8. Stretch up your arms to elongate your belly.

Stretch up both arms and have your hands pull each other upwards. You will see that your torso is now elongated and you could even hint your ribs. Maintain the posture of your torso and bring down your arms. Now, you'll see that you've obtained almost the same lean stomach as you would if you held your breath and sucked in your belly (without the effort and suffering of actually doing that).

9. Push up your breasts to elongate the torso.

The same effect can be attained by putting one hand beneath your belly button, pulling down your pants a bit, and the other one underneath your boobs, pushing them both upwards, along with your arm. That will also elongate the meat on your torso, and likely make some vertical side and middle lines appear.

10. Use shadows to accentuate muscles, not direct light.

Another important element in abdominal capturing is the angle of the lighting and amount of shadows. If you shed light directly on your belly, even if your abs are flexed and popping, it'll be more difficult to capture them on camera. However, if you turn your body slightly away from the light, you'll portrait some shadows on the lines, which will make them more visible in the photo. You can try different angles and lights to see which one flatters you most (the same technique applies to arm and back muscles).

Since booty is mostly judged by its contour, lighting is not that important, but the rest of the muscles are most appreciated when you can see the bulk that arises from the bone area, so shadows help in making them more clear to the human eye.

As you've seen, I've mostly focused on glutes and abs, as I think those are the muscles or body parts that girls obsess over the most, and perhaps that men (or even women among themselves) look at the most when judging a woman's body. There are also a few little tips that I could give you for back, arms and legs, on how to flex them to make the muscles appear bigger or more accentuated, or how to position them and the camera to make them appear slimmer, etc. But I will leave that out of this post so the information doesn't overwhelm you (maybe I'll make another one in the future if this one gets a good response?).

Anyhow, that'll be all. I really, really hope that this was useful in any way and, to you on the other side of this screen, thank you so much for reading up until here!

Love to everyone and have a good day!

Iris Wong
Iris Wong
Read next: 10 Remarkable Facts Of The 18th Century That Will Surprise You
Iris Wong

Half Hong Kong-ese, half Catalan.

Watercolor | Lettering | Psychology | Social matters

A place to learn, reflect, gaze and enjoy, or simply to scroll through.

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IG: @characterisedbylaughter

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