The Space Between My Peers: Apparent Body Size

The Space Between My Peers

From the bottom of the fashion food chain ...

Location: The Great Northwest

I'm a home-schooling, bible-believing SAHM with an annual clothing budget of about $500 American. The Space Between My Peers reveals my secret passion: analysis of the art and science of what to wear.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Apparent Body Size

It's hard to tell how big somebody is just by looking.

In this post with picture, I noted that when I wear these particular jeans a frequent comment is that I look small. To which Maria Palma said it was hard to tell from the picture that I look small. She's right.

But even in person, looks can be deceiving. I have one friend who is barely bigger than me, but somehow she appears to be a larger-scale woman. Presumably her larger scale features and exotic appearance create a greater "presence", making her seem larger-than-life, so to speak.

So what goes into apparent body size?
  • Height
  • Width
  • Supposedly that's all. I wonder. That in no way explains why gifts to my two daughters are invariably smalls while mine is medium.

Selecting the everyday purse is the primary reason to identify apparent body size.

What about you, do people tend to estimate your size wrong?


Blogger Wendy said...

I think height, width, but also body shape and cut of clothes affect perceived size.

I have broad shoulders, and am reasonably well endowed. I think that makes my waist look smaller than it actually is.

Heels make me look taller, but also "littler". A v-neckline is very flattering to me, also somewhat visually enlongating.

Fit of garments affects the perception of size, too. I think that for many of us, oversized garments make us look either bigger or completely lost in them.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I'm not sure who is giving gifts to your daughters, but it is possible that the giver hasn't fully realized that they are nearly grown ups! As for you being a medium... sorry, can't explain that one!

The appearance of my size is very much related to what I am wearing.
Since my tummy is a problem area right now, if I wear clothes that smooth that area I look slimmer. Since my size has changed a lot over the years, people sometimes think I have lost or gained weight when I haven't, just based on what I am wearing.

I have noticed that among my slender friends who have square hips (wide side to side but not front to back), they tend to look larger than a similar sized woman with curvy hips.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

So, Wendy, do you think that clothes that are just a little big make the wearer look smaller?

And, Beth, obviously it isn't you that's giving me mediums. I know what you mean about what a person wears making them look like they've gained or lost weight, sometimes I wish I could just tell people: you look like you've lost 20 pounds since yesterday.

I think that overall height is the biggest factor. There's probably nothing I could do, at almost 5'6", to ever be considered anything but medium. I guess that's okay.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Rebecca, interesting question! I would say, "No." My girls are not huge, but are, shall we say evident. My hips are smallish. So if a tee is oversized it falls straitish, and makes me look bigger. Slightly oversized pants just slide down ...

4:55 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

So it kinda goes back to what you said in your first comment: height, width, but also body shape and cut of clothes affect perceived size.

We are mostly Xs and 8s, so jeans with a little extra space don't fall off, they just drape a little. And sometimes a top that is a little bigger will fall in straightish lines along the arms, but still drape a little at the waist.

I smell a "fashion lab" coming on.

And I think this all goes to my hypothesis that staying within your natural silhouette usually results in the slimmest look.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Rebecca, I think the hypothesis is being borne out!!!

Thanks for the cupcake tribute to my brother's birthday! (I hope you like the virtual card I put up for him ... it's my own brush lettering and paste paper.)

9:20 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I do like it! You are quite an artist. I would have no idea how to go about making something and then making it electronic ... I have alot to learn.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

We all have so much to learn! (I'm glad you like it.)

One of the goals of blogging for me was learning. I figured that I enjoyed blogs, I should learn how to make one!

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

I think that frame size has a LOT to do with it. I have two sisters who are within an inch of each others' height and within a few pounds of each others' weight.

Yet one of them is apparently-tiny, and one of them is apparently-strapping. Tiny has a small frame, delicate features, and carries most of her excess weight where it can be easily disguised. Strapping has a broad, strong-looking frame, large hands and bosoms, and some facial softness that makes her look like she's carrying around a few extra pounds.

It's not just clothing size that people guess, either. People often perceive Strapping as several inches taller than Tiny. Heck, people perceive *me* as taller than Tiny, and I'm shorter -- but like Strapping, I've got a broad, solid frame to Tiny's narrow, delicate one.

1:35 PM  
Blogger MegLogan said...

Interesting. I think it is important to keep in mind, that muscle weighs more than fat.

I wear a size 12 dress. I have slimmer hips, and a wider waist, and bust. I fluctuate between an 8 and a straight line. But I am very muscular. I am 5'4" and weigh between 165 and 170.

Most people do not consider me to be a large woman. Most people cannot believe I weigh what I do.

It is because of the muscles! I have always been very muscular. In fact when I was in college (some of my slimmer days), a friend of mine who was the same height and I decided to do a comparison. She wore a size 10, I wore a size 6 or 8. We both got on the same scale the same time of day wearing the same thing (a swimsuit). She weighed in at 120, and I weighed in at 135!! Amazing! She was a bigger girl, curvy, busty, I was a slimmer, leaner girl without curves. I weighed more! a real eye opener.

Mrs. Meg Logan

8:44 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I had a similar experience in high school. My gymnast friend was quite a bit shorter than me, but she could always win the "guess my weight" at the fair because she was so muscular.

8:58 AM  

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