The power of a bad picture is undeniably strong. In fact, it can be completely depressing, devastating, and utterly confidence-crushing. That might sound dramatic, but even if we’re totally happy with the way we look in the mirror, just one glimpse at an unflattering photo can ruin our day and leave us obsessing over silly things like how to look skinny–or just a tiny bit thinner.
The good news is this: Unless you’re being shot by a photographer with professional lighting and sets, odds are you’re not going to look thin and perfect in every picture. Why is this good news? Because it means that those dinky iPhone photos, or the images of you taken by your friend who has no idea how to use her DSLR camera mean nothing when it comes to how you really look.
After all, there’s a big difference between being attractive and being photogenic—one doesn’t necessarily translate to the other. Being photogenic is mostly about possessing an acute awareness of how you look in photos, which can certainly be learned over time (What? You thought fashion bloggers came out of the womb pretending to hail a cab while carrying a Céline bag?)
That said, there are a few low-maintenance measures to take if you know you’re going to be snapped—whether professionally or unprofessionally—that’ll make you instantly look thinner. Read on for 12 useful tips on how to look skinny in pictures!
1. Stick your chin out or use your tongue.
It might feel weird, but sticking your chin or head out slightly will ensure you don’t look like you have a dreaded double chin. Another way to give the appearance of a thinner face? Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth while smiling. Rumor has it Heidi Klum and Renne Zellweger are fans of this trick.
2. Say no to below.
Unless it’s Annie Leibovitz behind the lens (and even then we’d think twice), never allow yourself to get photographed from below. It’s the most unflattering angle there is, and can make you look pounds heavier. Head-on can work, but it’s even better if the camera is slightly above you. Because of the angle, you’ll need to look up, which elongates and thins out your neck and torso.
3. Dress accordingly.
It sounds intuitive, but if you know you’re going somewhere where pictures will likely be snapped, wear things you know are flattering. Wearing all one color is a good way to go, as is shapewear if you’re in a tight dress or gown—it’s the foundation of an outfit that can make or break how your clothing translates on camera.
4. Turn your body.
We’ve seen the celebrities do it: Slightly turn your body sideways (toward the camera) planting one foot in front of the other. Then point your toe to the camera and place your weight on your back foot. Looking at the lens head-on usually makes you appear larger.
5. Position your arms.
Ever wonder why every celeb poses with her camera-facing arm on her hip? It’s because it ensures that her upper arm isn’t smooshed against her body making it look flattened (read: larger.) If you find the hand-on-hip pose to be a bit forced, try holding your arms out from your sides ever so slightly.
6. Make sure your hair isn’t too severe.
If you’re wearing your hair up, make sure it’s not too severe. Whereas some updos can make your neck look longer and thinner, buns, braids, or ponytails that are too tight can create harsh angles, causing your face and torso to look larger.
7. Sit pretty.
Although it’s always preferable to stand in photos, if you happen to be sitting when someone comes at you with a camera, be sure to cross your legs at your ankles—your thighs and calves will look slimmer.
8. Fake a tan.
Since most of us tend to look washed out in everyday photos, a subtle glow makes a world of difference. If you’re showing skin, a light spray tan can make your legs, arms, shoulders, and neck look slimmer. If you’re only showing your face, apply a light dusting of bronzer.
9. Avoid direct sunlight.
If you’re shooting outside, direct sunlight can make you squint, which can plump up your jawline (try it now—you’ll see.) Instead, late afternoon and early evening are the most flattering times of day for outdoor photos.
10. Distance counts.
It’s a basic rule: Whatever is closer to the camera will appear larger.
11. The old bag trick
If you’re wearing something that’s tight, bulky, or detailed around the middle, it could look expanded in photos (even if it looks fab in person.) Hold your bag directly infront of the area to mask it in pictures.
12. Don’t yell cheese.
‘Cause that’s just lame. Oh, and because it can make you look like a chipmunk. Instead, just smile naturally.