Someone Asked If Fat People Are Able To Recognize Just How Fat They Are. Here Are 17 Answers To That Question.

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Found on r/FatLogic.

The question:

I am wondering whether fat people realize how fat they are. I think some of it is like an anorexic who is looking into the mirror and thinks “oh god, I’m a whale” when they are actually underweight.

I can only speak from my own experience. When I was at my heaviest, I thought “Well, I’m a bit larger than most people. But not that much.” My perspective was also skewed by all the enormous people who posted on Fat Acceptance websites. So many of those people were 400 lbs or more, so I felt positively svelte because I didn’t even reach 300. After all, I could still buy clothes in the plus size section and fit into train and plane seats, even if I was uncomfortable at times.

Now, I have lost quite a bit of weight, I’m still obese, but smaller than I used to be. On an objective basis, I know it’s true. My clothes are getting too big, the number on the scale is getting smaller. But at the same time, I feel fatter than ever, because I am starting to have a realistic notion of what I actually look like and how fucking huge I am compared to normal people.
Has anyone had the same experience?

The answers:

Answer 1

Yes. Exactly the same. I think that´s the reason why most fat people (me too) hate to see snapshots from themselves. If you don´t look for the most flattering angle and the most flattering pose, you suddenly see how fat you really are (and how others see you all the time).

Answer 2

At 5’1″ and 200 pounds I knew I was fat. I did not, however, realize just HOW fat I was. I thought I was still shapely enough to be an attractive overweight woman.

Even now at 125-130 lbs I look in the mirror and think back on how I used to perceive myself and think “I wasn’t that much bigger than I am now, was I? I don’t look that much smaller, do I?” If not for the drastic pants size change (from almost-18 to 2), and picture proof, I’d have a hard time believing I changed all that much. Then at other times, especially when I was losing weight, I could look in the mirror and see exactly how far I came and exactly how fat I was. It was weird.

I don’t doubt one of the reasons it took me so long to finally change my lifestyle was a perverse sort of body-dysmorphia where I thought I was thinner than I was.

Answer 3

I’m sure part of it is vanity sizing. In legitimate designer clothing (e.g. dresses from Ralph Lauren/Michael Kors) I’m a size 6. But I wasn’t wearing designer pants back at 200 lbs, I was wearing one brand and it was their size 18 and now I’m their size 2.

It could also be a muscle mass difference. I regularly lift weights. Perhaps I have a lower body fat percentage? Lifting weights is DEFINITELY something you should consider when you’re done the biggest cut of your life. Check out this link for an idea of what weight lifting can do.

Answer 4

Yeah, I have.

I’m 5′ 3″ and back in 2009 after some severe depression and a relationship breakdown, I ballooned to 13 stone and 3lbs (about 186lbs all told). I wasn’t quite at planet status, but getting there.

I had some real twisted fat logic going on like, “oh, that woman is way larger than me, I can’t be fat!” and “I’m only a (UK) 18, that’s not large at all!”

In my head, my image of my body was that of an hourglass and that was alright. Over time though, as it got harder to do things, the image changed and I saw just what I’d become. Hell, I used to debate about whether or not it was worth heaving for air to go upstairs and get something I wanted.

I was hugely embarrassed by my body and tried to hide it inasmuch baggy clothing as I possibly could because I didn’t want to inflict the horror of myself on people.

It was only when my son said, “Mummy, I can’t hug you properly any more,” with the saddest look on his face that I finally got off my fat ass and did something about it. That was 2010 and I’d ballooned to a whopping 14st 1lb (not sure what that is in pounds alone).

Instead of crying and binging as I normally would, I took him for a walk. I wanted to die, but kept moving, holding that image of his sad eyes looking at me and not being able to hug me.

The weight began to come off. As the dress sizes dropped over a couple of years to a UK 14, I started to enjoy stuff again. Funny thing is, I still saw myself as a landwhale and thought people were laughing at my fat ass.

I stayed at size 14 until this year because I just couldn’t leave the sugar alone.

Then my dentist told me that despite all the work he’d done to save my teeth (childhood accident) the sugar I was consuming was destroying them and I would have dentures by the time I was 35 if I didn’t quit it.

I felt awful. Then I got angry at myself for getting like that and I quit sugar cold turkey. The withdrawal was horrible and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

To take my mind off it, I started looking up C25K and, 6 weeks ago, I donned my running shoes.

Today, I fit into a pair of UK 10 jeans, something I haven’t seen since before my children were born.

Despite all my hard work, I still see myself as fat. I don’t know why, but even knowing intellectually that I’m not, I can’t change my mental image of myself.

I’m going to maintain a size 10 because any lower and I look ill but yeah, my emotions tell me I’m still huge, so you’re not alone.

My son however, is still ridiculously excited that he can hug me properly now! :)

Answer 5

It’s not unusual for this to happen when you begin to lose weight and diet. You’re recalibrating to normal. Try taking a progress photo every month or week or something, and avoid comparing yourself to others.

And no, fat people often don’t realize how big they are. We have a tendency to view our own bodies and experiences as the baseline and everything else as deviations from that. A 6-foot tall girl might think I’m short, but I’m just above average height. She would probably know she is tall, but not feel tall most of the time.

Answer 6

I was 394 lbs in January 2013, I’m losing weight naturally and am currently in the 260s. I knew I was fat (I know I still am), I just felt helpless and hopeless and I was terrified of failure. I didn’t want to look at photos of myself, I wore baggy clothes not just to feel comfortable, but to mask my voluminous fat rolls.

I put on a happy face and played to type – the happy jolly fat guy. At heart I knew I was at the distant end of the bell-curve. But when you have a first-person perspective of being fat, sometimes you allow yourself the luxury of forgetting how you really look, if only for a while.

Answer 7

Oh absolutely. At my heaviest (and I was overweight, not obese), I could somehow ignore all the cellulite and my bulging stomach and smooshy thighs because I was “cuhrrrvvy”. I also felt awkward like Godzilla stomping through Japan.

While losing weight and getting back into my swimsuit, I felt fatter than ever. I think it was because I finally looked at myself in the mirror instead of deluding myself. I was acutely aware of my love handles and my boobs popping out and my smooshy thighs. I battled through, no matter how shitty I felt about myself. My fat was really stubborn. I didn’t get my stomach or thighs back until the last couple of pounds. Seriously, those last couple make a world of difference.

After losing weight, holy crap I feel tiny! My stomach is almost always flat and I don’t pop my jeans or muffin top after a big meal. It’s really crazy. I feel small.

Stick with it. You might not notice a big difference until you actually reach the end, but don’t give up. Concentrate on the small victories, like that scale going down and the inches coming off. You got this, man!

Answer 8

For me it was. I’d talk about how I wasn’t that big. How I was smaller than those other women. I was healthy.

I cry when I look at those photos. I understand why my mum cried the time she saw me after a year of not seeing each other. (And not happy tears…)

Answer 9

At 5’2″ and 155ish, I didn’t think I was that big. I thought I was maybe a little chubby. Definitely not skinny, but I was pretty comfortable deluding myself with the but I’m muscular! thing. Plus, I had let a good amount of weight creep up on me, so it was pretty easy to keep thinking I was smaller than I was.

It wasn’t until July 2011, when a pair of size 12 pants were so uncomfortably tight around my middle that it was actually harder to breathe, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was actually, legitimately fat. I stepped on the scale and was devastated to find that I was 170 lbs. I was obese.

That last picture was actually taken the day I decided to really, truly fix it. I had moved to China to teach English and I was only a week into the training when my program director told us that women in the program almost always gained weight their first year. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I was already at my highest weight ever, and I made the decision right then that that was not going to be me. I was going to fix it.

So I did. But yeah, TL;DR? Yes, it’s possible to be completely unaware that you’re actually fat.

Answer 10

I know I’m fat (honestly…5’7″ and 300 lbs…so yeah, FAT) and when I’m looking at myself in the mirror or in pictures I see how fat I am, but I can also see how much smaller I am now than I was(last year I weighed 380lbs).

I do have moments where I feel like I’m not fat and there’s nothing wrong with me, mostly when I’m with my family (there are some much larger people in my family and I feel downright skinny next to them). But I have moments where I feel like I’m even bigger than I am as well (in my husband’s family all the women are petite and I feel like a giant land whale that weighs 500lbs next to them).

Answer 11

I think a lot of people are in denial about how big they are, and to an extent how big others are. I know it was that way for me, at 5’3 180-ish I was technically obese, but was still able to fit into size 12 jeans (select styles and brands) and how could I be obese if I wasn’t even plus-sized? Because clearly that’s how it works.

I didn’t see myself as fat in the mirror, hated having my pictures taken since I always looked fatter in pictures than I saw myself, but I just chalked that up to being unphotogenic, camera adds pounds, etc. It’s really easy to keep moving the goalposts, to find someone bigger than yourself and think “Well, I’m smaller than that person so I’m not fat.” Plus, with the average weight for adults creeping up, people lose sight of what a healthy weight looks like for themselves and others.

Hell, my sister told me if I kept losing weight, I was going to blow away and she’s smaller than I am!

Answer 12

It always took pictures to see myself accurately. What I see in the mirror is not what I see in photos.

At my heaviest, I didn’t think of myself as that big. Sure, my pants were tight (size 12), but I thought I still looked cute. It was a picture that made me want to lose weight. I hated the way I looked in every photo from an event I was at.

So, I lost weight. I’m now a size 6. I still see myself as “big”. I know I’m not, but it’s hard to see the difference in the mirror. So, I take pictures. They help.

Answer 13

Related to body dysmorphia and weight….Over the last 20 years (or so) I have been from an ED induced size 00 to a depression/grief induced size 8 and I have felt and thought I looked “fat” at all of those sizes. I only ever realized how small (or large) I had been once I wasn’t “that” size anymore.

At a 00 with amenorrhea due to low body fat, I felt fat, and couldn’t recognize my size as being what it was. There were girls who were physically larger than I was, but I thought they were skinnier than me. I couldn’t see myself as I really was, even when one of the skinniest girls in my class outgrew a pair of jeans and gave them to me, I thought there was no way they would fit me, they were so tiny…and when I tried them on, they were too big, but of course I rationalized that…she was a little taller than me, that’s why she looked skinny, I was shorter and hence I looked “fatter” than she did. When I started to recover and gained weight to a size 0 and 2, I looked back at the 00 clothes and they looked like kid’s clothes to me, I couldn’t believe that I had actually been that tiny…none of my rings or watches fit, and I felt huge compared to how I had been.

Years passed, death and divorce took a toll on my mental health and I was diagnosed with depression. I gained more weight, eventually eating my way up to a size 8 (not fat but in comparison, it was a lot of weight)…I looked back at my size 0 and 2 clothes and same thing, I couldn’t believe how small they were. I felt fat, but at the same time…I thought maybe I was finally “normal” and didn’t realize how big I really was; until I lost weight again.

I recovered from depression, another divorce, and lost weight (a little too much; damned ED) and when I looked back at my size 8 clothes…I couldn’t believe how big they were compared to the size I currently was. I couldn’t understand how I could hadn’t noticed how large I let myself get…but at the time, I didn’t feel any “fatter” in my head than I felt at a size 00 or 0 or 2.

Now, I’m a healthy size 4. I don’t weigh myself (numbers trigger) but I know I was 118 my last DR visit, which puts me at about 21% BMI…I still have days when I feel “fat” and avoid mirrors like the plague, but logically I know I’m not “fat” or even overweight…

I think fat people are just in denial about what they truly look like, but I don’t think it’s actual dysmorphia.

Answer 14

I can’t speak for all fat people but I can tell you my experience.

I knew I was fat but I didn’t see myself NEARLY as big as I was (I was 230 lbs, 5’6, female). I avoided photos and when I did see them and saw my size, I would convince myself that it was the photo, angle, lighting, etc. I then got sick of being fat and lost 90 lbs (off for almost 6 years now). The strange thing? I have kind of had the opposite effect. I still saw myself as a chubbier girl (137 lbs (size 5), fit) until I saw a full body shot of myself from a few months ago. I’m a small person now but in my mind, I’m still not. It’s a very strange thing to experience.

Answer 15

As a small planet (5’0; 190lbs) I am aware I’m fat. The issue for me is that if I see weight loss on the scale I can literally see my weight change on my body that second. I’m pretty sure it’s a mental disorder. I imagine most fatties are aware they’re big, but everyone thinks they’re “not that big”

Answer 16

I’m a fat guy who doesn’t have a mental image of myself as being fat.

I’ve spent most of my life thin. I was always thin growing up and never had a problem with weight.

On an intellectual level, I know I’m fat. But when I glance in the mirror, sometimes I am surprised at being fat. This is because I didn’t really start to pack on the weight until I was over the age of 30.

I got a desk job in the city that was within walking distance of lots of delicious food. This also correlated with getting to a stage of my career where I had enough disposable income to eat out for lunch almost every day. Having been thin my entire life, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Big mistake.

The weight crept on a pound here, a pound there. Now I’m 40 and I need to lose 60 lbs. I’ve counted every calorie today with my Lose It app and I’m going out walking with my wife and son tonight after work. I have a long road ahead of me.

But yeah… sometimes I’m a little surprised when I see the fat guy in the mirror.

Answer 17

No. People who have anorexia nervosa are suffering from body dysmorphia in regards to body size, it is just not a separate diagnosis when it is part of the eating disorder because it is included in the diagnostic criteria.

This is completely different than what has been found with overweight/obese people/what you said above which is that due to the vast amount of large people in our society, the fat person sees many people their size or larger, so they think they themselves are not that obese.

Some people who are overweight may think they are a normal weight since they are smaller than a huge group of people in our society. Obese/overweight people see themselves as they are, but have a skewed view of what is normal, whereas someone with anorexia nervosa does not see themselves as they actually are.

An anorexic does not have a skewed view of what is normal, they literally do not see themselves as they are, and they tend to think people are lying to them if they try to tell them how thin they are.

When someone is fat, it is just that a skewed view of what is normal helps them rationalize bring the weight they are. When someone who is very large loses weight it takes a long time for the brain to catch up and to realize that you are getting smaller and to expect to see that in the mirror and when navigating around things because you have been that way for so long, but, again, this is completely normal, and again is not the same as what someone with anorexia nervosa experiences. TC mark

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