Proof That Fat Days Are All in Your Head

Is what you see about your body really true?

There was an incredibly interesting “feeling fat” study presented at an Eating Disorders Research Society meeting I went to last fall. The researchers at York University showed 100 women three photos of themselves and then asked them how they thought they looked in them.
1. One was a real, unretouched picture of the woman
2. The second was a picture Photoshopped to make her look about 10 pounds thinner
3. The last one was a photo manipulated to make her look about 10 pounds heavier

The results? Actually looking “thinner” made no difference to the way the women thought they looked and didn’t make them feel any better about their bodies.The women had a tendency to say they looked heavier than usual in all three pictures.

Striking proof that being skinny, looking skinny, getting skinny doesn’t do a damn thing for our real happiness and self esteem.

Have you had any body epiphanies recently? Please share!

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[This post is from the archives, September 2009]

9 Responses to Proof That Fat Days Are All in Your Head

  1. I’m very interested in this study! Could you provide more information about it? The authors or where it was published?

    • Sunny says:

      Sure! The info is on my desk at work where I won’t be again until June 9, so I’ll have to get it to you then. If you don’t hear from me soon, though, feel free to pop me an email at sunny [at]

  2. Shannon says:

    *off topic comment coming*

    I’ve been off the radar recently as I’m spending the summer with my mom and her agonizingly slow dial-up internet. Although I routinely visit the local library for high-speed, I don’t often give my blog feed much more than a passing glance and I really wanted to take the time to read these posts mostly because I’ve taken several steps backwards recently.

    Between exam stress and moving anxietys and now living in my moms house which is crammed with ‘forbidden’ foods full of refined carbs, sugar and fat that are ALL triggers for me, I’m really regressed in my behavior. I’m sneaking out of the house and buy bulk candy and hurriedly shoving it down my throat before returning to my moms place.

    I’m lacking the motivation to keep a food journal which I’ve found is key to maintaining healthy eating and lacking time to work out (I’m a part-time student, a full-time employee, learning how to drive and spending several hours a day commuting) and feel worse about myself everytime I put on my too tight jeans.

    The roller coaster of recovery continues to kick my ass and I find recently that my faith in myself is wavering. I guess that could be considered an epiphany.

  3. Olivia says:

    Well, I have absolutely no trouble believing that fat days are only in our heads.. However, I do find it surprising that the women found they looked bigger in all three photos. So that would mean that the average woman thinks she is over 10lbs slimmer than she actually is?Definitely not what I would have guessed.

  4. [...] gained about ~8 pounds since then, mainly due to marathon training and then winter weight. I read this post and I could totally relate. I’m sure that if you told me I weight what I want to weigh, my [...]

  5. [...] study by York University found proof that fat days are in our heads. You can read about it here. I’ve realized that I let how I feel some mornings/what I weigh (if I choose to weigh myself) [...]

  6. dmcgirl37 says:

    Thank you sooo much for this post, I needed to hear it!!

    Dana xo

  7. j says:

    well… while i’m glad to hear this, were the women in the sample “normal” non-eating disordered woman? i don’t know if the same results would apply to a sample of eating-disordered women. speaking for myself, i can DEFINITELY tell my weight in pics when there’s a 10lb difference, but that is because i am hyper-aware and way more focused on weight/numbers/body image than a healthy person without an ED.

  8. Kelly says:

    Wow…how amazing! We are all so hard on ourselves. My husband is constantly telling me that he wishes I could see myself through his eyes. :) Thanks for posting!

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