What Does Your Body “Really” Look Like?

OK, this is embarrassing, but my husband and I play a game called “Am I As Tall As Her?” We’ll be out and about – it could be at Starbucks, at a wedding, an art gallery, anywhere – and I’ll spy a fellow tall woman. As inconspicuously as possible, I’ll wander up beside her, turn around and face Dan, and hike my eyebrows, as if it ask, “Am I as tall as her?” He makes an assessment, taking shoes into accounts, and delivers a full report upon my return.

It’s a silly game born out of my seeming inability to understand what I really look like, and it’s hardly the first plot hatched to help me understand: About six years ago, when I still (rather obnoxiously, I now realize) complained about my body, my friend/then-coworker Debbie used to threaten, “One of these days, I’m going to take a picture of you from behind when you’re not looking and then show it to you. I guarantee you’ll think the girl in the photo has a nice body.”

I also remember somebody once giving me the tip that if you tend to judge your body harshly when looking in the mirror, try standing so your face is cut off or hidden and all you can see is the neck-down. The decapitated image somehow allows you to detach yourself enough to view your body in a less judgmental light.

Well, a new website called My Body Gallery takes advantage of all three theories. Viewers are invited to send in photos of themselves along with their height, weight and sizes; viewers can then plug in their own measurements and scroll through pictures (faces blocked) of other women their height and weight. The theory is that seeing how great other ladies your size look – women who aren’t on the receiving end of the same judgments and contempt as yourself – will help you embrace your own figure.

A writer at bellasugar.com visited My Body Gallery with hopeful anticipation, but still wound up criticizing herself. “I just ended up feeling bad that my waist isn’t smaller and that my thighs are more prominent than my chest. ‘At least with models in magazines,’ I found myself thinking, “I know they’re so Photoshopped that it’s dumb to beat myself up about not being eight feet tall’” and super skinny.

Happily, the site worked like a charm for me. I found it extremely comforting and reassuring to see what other 5’10”, 140-150lb women “really” look like. I saw my body in theirs, flashes of recognition which have grown increasingly common over the last decade as I’ve grown mentally healthier and my bedroom mirror’s reflection has slowly changed from funhouse to real.

Try it out and tell me what you think!

Pregnant/a new mom and wondering how your body compares to others? Check out the fascinatingly addictive The Shape of a Mother.



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23 Responses to What Does Your Body “Really” Look Like?

  1. JavaChick says:

    Nope, that doesn’t make me feel good at all. :(

    Glad it worked for you though!
    JavaChick recently posted..Friday Night Dinner by Costco

  2. Jill says:

    I didn’t submit a photo, but I searched photos for my height/weight/size etc and saw pretty much what I thought I would see. I think I’m pretty realistic about my body and this site confirmed it. Interestingly, it didn’t make me feel good or bad – just sort of “Hmm. Yep, that looks like me.”
    Jill recently posted..Labels and False Beliefs

  3. Alyssa says:

    Kinda made me feel worse. But I like the idea, in theory!
    (I think my issue is that I’m heavier now than I’ve ever been, except during my pregnancies. Because I’m now post-40, I’m having a heck of a time losing the weight, which seemed to come on pretty quickly a few years ago. I also looked at some photos of myself the other day and was NOT happy with what I saw, so it’s been on my mind.)

    • Alyssa says:

      OK, so, inspired by this experience, I took a picture of myself in my undies. And y’know what? It was better than I expected!
      I also went to yoga last night and focused on what my body could do & how it felt, rather than what I looked like. So, in the end, this ended up being a VERY positive experience! Thanks, Leslie!!!!!!!!

  4. bdaiss says:

    I’m with the some of the other commenters. Pretty much saw what I expected…but it didn’t make me happy about it. :O

    Love the Shape of A Mother site. Just wish so many of those posting weren’t so young and so hard on themselves!
    bdaiss recently posted..I’m Burnin’ Baby! Burnin’!

  5. Patricia says:

    Cool, I really liked what I saw, apparently I am hard on myself. I know I look pretty good, but seeing it on someone else really does make me feel better about where I am right now.

  6. Cammy says:

    I’m always a bit skeptical on sites that rely on self-reporting weight, because I think people tend to claim a lower weight (or taller height) than they are, and then if you look up what you “really” look like based on that self-reporting you get a skewed idea.

    I thought that before I did a search, and then I looked up my measurements (ones that I KNOW on paper are below average) and it actually made me feel really bad about myself, but I’m not sure if that’s because people report themselves as lower than they are or because my perceptions are still a bit distorted.
    Cammy recently posted..Volume Issues

  7. Jan says:

    I agree with the other postings. I found myself scoffing at some of the photos, “Oh yeah? You’re dreaming if you think you wear a size 2!” Not the place I wanted to go.

    It’s challenging for me to realistically picture myself. Because I’m a weightlifter and have a lot of muscle, my body weight is higher than (I think) my body image would indicate. It’s difficult not to get hung up on the pounds, however, even though I know better. Sigh.

  8. jamie says:

    i’m a little apprehensive, but i think i’ll check it out. at the very least, the mere existence of the site alleviates some of my anxiety about having no idea what my body looks like. i’m not alone in my distrust of what i see in the mirror, hooray.

  9. Jamie says:

    reporting back: it helped! i feel better today. i thought i had a good handle on my body image issues until i moved to a country where almost everyone is shorter & smaller than me, both men & women. i’ve felt huge for months and months now and there aren’t that many other women built like me to give me some perspective on myself. thanks for this. i know i’ll be going back on those days when i feel like a blonde giant amongst the petite latinas.

  10. Lora B. says:

    It made me feel somewhat better although like the other commenters, I think some people are not exactly telling the truth (which I really do not understand given the nature of the site!!!!) I am 5’11 and 140 pounds which I know is healthy but because of my height, always have had the “big girl” complex. This site made me see girls around my size and I definatley woul never think of the as “big.”

  11. Oh, Lora, I am in the exact same boat as you. Being tall has always made me feel “big,” and even a healthy weight, like 150, sounds so much more than my petite friends who weight 120. It took me a long time to stop getting hung up on the number – but now I’m at the point where I basically don’t even care any more.

    I’m sorry if the link made some women feel badly. That was certainly not my intention. Cammy, I never thought about the fact that some people might fudge their numbers. But I guess if they do it on driver’s licenses, why not here? I’m too trusting, I guess…
    Leslie Goldman recently posted..What Does Your Body “Really” Look Like?

  12. Sarah says:

    Interesting website. For women my height and weight there was a lot of variation in the photos. I suppose body fat percentage is also a factor on the size you are.

    This reminds me of a telly show in the UK called How to Look Good Naked. The presenter Gok Wan would take a lady who was unhappy with a particular body part, and show her a line up of women in their underwear ranging in order of smaller to larger, say bottoms or something. He would then ask the lady where she fitted into the line, and inevitably she would choose larger than she actually was. Gok always pointed out that he thought all the women were beautiful whatever their size :)

  13. Anna says:

    Very cool Site indeed! You are probably right about us women tend to over or underestimate our sizes :)
    Anna recently posted..Bad breath? I give you some “home-made” solutions.

  14. Pingback: 'My Body Gallery' Aims to Deconstruct Body Image Insecurities in Women

  15. Happiness keeps You Sweet, Trials keep You Strong, Sorrows keep You Human,

  16. Sam says:

    I posted my before and after pics on the site. I’ve scrolled through my weight/height range and for some pics I just don’t feel I can trust that the other girls stats are correct. I know everyone is different but still, some jean size stats just seem made up.

  17. Kassie says:

    This was actually helpful for me. I realized how critical I am of myself and I have a better idea of what my goals should be. Thanks :)

  18. Kristin says:

    I find this site very helpful! In the last year I’ve lost just under 70 lbs and am having a hard time seeing myself as I look today. I still see myself as the much heavier me when I look in the mirror. This site has helped me begin to see the new me and as my body has changed in size, its also great to use as a guideline for what I want to look like (for my new weight loss goal).

  19. X says:

    I’m on several fitness sites, and the site in question gets brought up probably once a month as a “Go here to make yourself feel better!” As typical of user-run sites, there’s some big misses. I, too, know everyone looks different, even at the same heights and weights, and especially, “sizing”… however, body type is a bit less murky (women lacking hips under hourglass, hourglass figures thinking they’re pears because they have smaller breasts–ladies, a 34-24-34 would still be an hourglass even if she’s an A cup!–etc.). Occasional triggering photos of clearly underweight women make it up in certain areas clearly as body dysmorphia and not actual measurements.

    This site: http://curveappeal.tumblr.com/, made a much bigger difference to me. Measurements are a little more technical than pant sizes, body type estimation, and weight (which doesn’t take into account LBM vs. body fat). I was blown away at how different similar measurements look based on height, or just my own self-perception. Everyone looks beautiful.

  20. bing says:

    excellent publish, very informative. I wonder
    why the other specialists of this sector don’t realize this.
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  21. Auna says:

    Yeah it didn’t really make me feel good at all. Just confirmed all of my fat fears.

  22. 33Alanna says:

    I must say it was hard to find your blog in search results.
    You write interesting posts but you should rank your website higher in search engines.
    If you don’t know how to do it search on youtube:
    how to rank a website Marcel’s way
    33Alanna recently posted..33Alanna

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