One of my biggest manifestations of body insecurity used to come in the form of having my picture taken. I could almost never take a picture that I really loved when my entire body was in the shot because I would always get caught up in how my arms looked or how much my stomach ~existed~.
This was something I had to grow out of if I wanted any chance in building a personal portfolio and entering the modeling space. Part of getting over this involved learning how to pose my body in a way that felt natural to me and flattering from the camera’s perspective.
Posing information is usually tailored to smaller bodies, and when it is given for bigger bodies, it’s usually about hiding our weight. It has taken me a long time to find poses that actually feel flattering to my body and don’t have a huge learning curve. I hope everything I share in this piece can help people of all body types, and I’m especially rooting for all my bigger folks reading this.
I want to caveat as always that I am still growing in this journey and I don’t feel great every time I take pictures. But knowing how to pose my body in ways that work for me was definitely a huge barrier that I had to overcome, and I want to help y’all feel good about your body in pictures as well.
1. Get out of your head.
Something I jokingly said to my friend once while taking pictures is honestly starting to ring more and more true as I think about it.
“If you feel like you look weird, you will look weird.”
When I decide I want to take a picture, I always feel uncomfortable about whether or not people around me are judging me for taking the picture. In a fat body, this can feel that much more uncomfortable because we worry if others will judge us for bothering to capture our bodies when they don’t align with social standards of beauty.
This has translated for years into photos where I obviously look uncomfortable and the smile seems fake or strained. I’ve started to tell myself that little reminder before I take pictures, which helps me commit to the photo being taken.
When I tell you that I get way more pictures in a set that I actually enjoy, I’m not joking: I used to enjoy about 10% of the pictures I would take and now it’s much closer to 50%.
2. Move your legs.
One part of posing in a bigger body that has always irked me is how the camera seems to remove all shapes and curves I know my body has. That paired with the fact that plus size clothing is only meant for middle aged white women who want modest business casual wear as their normal wardrobe means the clothes usually aren’t helping either.
My favorite solution to this is by playing with the positioning of my legs. In a standing photo, I’ll usually cross one leg in front of another or kick one leg back. When sitting, I like to extend one leg and bend the other to create dimension or cross one over the other.
3. Do something with your hands.
I think this is true for people of all sizes, but knowing what to do with your hands in a picture is probably the most uncomfortable part about getting your picture taken. An easy solution is just to play with something in your hands. Whether that means putting your hands in your hair or fiddling with a ring on your finger, getting your hands engaged will help mold the rest of your pose.
The one caution I have here: avoid the sorority sister “hand pushed against your waist” pose. That is one pose that I personally have not seen work for many people in solo shots (unless you use a soft hand and make it elegant).
4. Look away from the camera.
This one seems counterintuitive when the point of the picture is supposed to be you. But I’ve honestly found that if I look just away from the camera, I get out of my head. I’m not as focused on hitting the perfect angle of my face, I don’t worry as much about whether or not my eyes look normal. I can focus on just showing off my fit and feeling the vibes.
It’s so wild seeing the growth in my comfort in front of the camera. When I look back to the first “modeling” pictures I had taken in September, I barely recognize the woman in the pictures. I have felt how modeling has changed the way I view my own body and built up my self confidence to love how I exist in my body.
Fat vanity is an act of resistance to society’s pressures for us to be small. Take all the pictures of yourself in the world and rejoice in the way your body gets you through the world. I am so grateful to have come so far from that time, not only in my comfort with cameras but also in my comfort with myself.