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Weight and how others perceive us (and we perceive them).

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Old 03-04-2009, 02:12 AM   #1
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Default Weight and how others perceive us (and we perceive them).

OK, very awkward thread title there, but never mind. All weights are in kilos here - I'm sorry, but I'm just too tired to do the conversion tonight. I'll see how I go tomorrow, but if you need to know the weight in pounds, multiplying the kg figure by 2.2 will have you close to the mark.

This is prompted by an email conversation that I've been having with a friend over the last day or so and it's made both of us think.

Now my friend looks absolutely fantastic. She's about my height of 5'4" and her body is what I want mine to look like when I get to goal. She's quite toned looking, but she's also got boobs and a bum - she's quite curvy, and as I said looks fantastic.

She's getting married in November, and yesterday she said to me that she wants to lose 14 kg. I was shocked by this - I knew she wanted to lose a bit of weight as the wedding dress she chose was a little tight for her, but I didn't realise she wanted to lose that much. I would estimate her weight to be around 60 - 63 kgs, so within the BMI guidelines for our height of 52 - 66 kg.

She had a session with the trainer at her gym and got weighed. Her weight is 70 kg, so I'd underestimated her weight by about 10%, give or take a couple of percentage points. I was curious and asked her to take a guess at my weight. She estimated my weight at 90kg. In kilos, my weight is 108.6, so she's underestimated my weight by around 20%. Her estimate is about where I want to be at the end of the year. After those comments, she is now my new best friend.

So, that got me thinking about how we perceive weight in both ourselves and others. I'm not surprised by my weight. I didn't weigh myself much at all last year, but I always had a rough idea of where I was weight wise. My friend thought that her weight was around 66 kg and was a little bit surprised that she was over that figure. She was very shocked to hear what I weighed.

So I guess what I'm trying to figure out is whether our perceptions of how we and others look at a certain weight reflects the reality. Using the terribly unscientific example of my friend and I, would it be safe to assume that we all tend to underestimate other people's weight by around 10 - 20%? OK, given that we're talking 2 people here, it's not particularly accurate, but it was interesting. And what about how we perceive how we look. I was fairly on the mark in terms of what I weigh, but I'm actively trying to lose weight and weigh myself most mornings. My friend who has not been trying to lose weight underestimated her weight by around 5%.

What do you all think?
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Old 03-04-2009, 07:28 AM   #2
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I was just thinking the same thing the other day and had a similar conversation with my sister and a guy from work. I told my sister that I wanted to weigh 150 when I was done of my weight loss and that if I got to that point I might even go as far as 130 because I was 118 at my smallest so why not. She was like Holy crap! I don't even weigh 130 how can you get there with all your boobs?

First of all my sister is 5'9 and super model like. She has no boobs or bum and is thin. She said she weighs like 145. Both the guy and I were surprised. I would have guessed like 125. So the two of them were like...well...how much do you weigh? I told them like 250lbs. They were floored. The guy (who is like a brother to me) said he would have guessed like 200 max. And he weighs 230.

So all this made me think. I was only 17 when I weighed 118 so it was not healthy. Even 130 seems unrealistic after 4 kids. I am almost 5'7 and I have a veeeery large chest. i was big to start with and just got bigger with each child. I know they will go down some but I was a D @ 118lbs so I don't think much.

It realy made me think about my goal and how important the number on the scale is. I mean I still think that 150 would be ideal for me but I think if I get to say 170 It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:34 AM   #3
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I think this is an important factor to keep in mind when we struggle with our inner weight demons - we may know our actual weight and often feel that we look larger than everyone else, but we also tend to underestimate others' weights (and it's not like most people are honest about their weights - most are tempted to shave off a few pounds when we have to report it!), which makes the difference between our own known weight and others' perceived weights that much bigger.

It doesn't help that celebrities are atrocious about providing absurdly low weights, and also being ridiculed/spotlighted for gaining 3 pounds. The most recent example is the Jessica Simpson thing - a combination of a little extra weight/poor muscle tone with some really unflattering clothes made her a national topic for about 3 days.... but the part that just baffled me was picking up a trash mag while waiting for a haircut: the article I saw labeled her "skinny" Daisy-Dukes picture as 115, and the "fat" mom-jeans picture as 130!! (at a reported height of 5'3") I realize that a 15-pound gain is going to be more apparent on a shorter body, but I have friends that went from a similarly pudgy state to similarly toned and svelte, but there were at least 50-60 pounds between the two!

The same thing could be said for others - I think Kirstie Alley's reported "fat weight" was 200 pounds (oh my gosh!) at 5'8" - while I feel badly that her weight struggles are a public display, I also wonder which leg she cut off when she got on the scale! Most women at 5'8" and 200 are not going to fit hollywood standards, but are also not going to lose all shape like she did. (And on the same page, her "bikini" pictures appeared a lot bigger than the reported 145 - she looked great, but 5'8" and 145 is quite light, and she still had some major curves)


Sorry for the long deviation, but I think we get a really skewed view of the world when a "fat" celebrity is reported at 130 pounds... and when we rarely see real people reporting their real weights. Add in the fact that different people "carry" weight differently, and muscle content really makes a difference in appearance, and it's very difficult for most of us to estimate weight correctly. In the course of trying to find a "regular" woman at 5'8" and 200 pounds, I came across a few neat height/weight picture collections (link) that kind of illustrate that I would probably have estimated most of those people 15-20 pounds lighter than reported.

I think we all need to keep in mind that what we criticize in the mirror is not really what other people see.
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:57 AM   #4
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Agreed on the perception. I weight 303 lbs at the beginning of my weightloss. Most people cannot beieve that. I am 5'9". I am now 143 lbs. Now they are guessing me at 130-135 lbs. Looks can be deceiving.
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:58 AM   #5
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I weighed, not weight
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Old 03-04-2009, 09:01 AM   #6
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Oh and I agree with Rock Chalk about Kirstie Alley. I weigh 143 at 5'9" and most think I am too thin now. She couldn't of possibly weighed 145.
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Old 03-04-2009, 09:20 AM   #7
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I have no skills at all for estimating people's height, let alone weight. You do not want me there as a witness when the bank teller or the convenience store clerk is confronted by a crack addict with a gun. So I've never been able to play this game of guessing someone's weight very well. I have no idea what 250 pounds looks like as opposed to 200, or 130 as opposed to 150. I would always end up politely telling someone that he or she "didn't look it," because I don't really know what it looks like.
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Old 03-04-2009, 09:38 AM   #8
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Rock Chalk Chick

Thanks for the link! I went down to my short 5'2" line. The biggest person that height was 210 pounds. If I look like that at 210, I will be a happy camper! The lady that weighed 165 looked great. This gave me new hope. I thought that I would have to get down to 150ish to be close to "normal"

I am blown away! I got a chuckle - the lady at 210 was wearing my "uniform", black pants, black shell and a jacket.
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Old 03-04-2009, 10:51 AM   #9
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I'm 5'8" when I stand up very straight. The lowest I have ever weighed as a full-grown adult was in the neighborhood of 180 and I was very unhappy. I was in the center of the "overweight" category ~ about 15 lbs lower than "obese." I looked OK in clothes but refused to wear a swimsuit. I carry my fat evenly distributed all over and my arms, legs and everywhere else still had plenty of fat. At the time I knew I had to lose AT LEAST another 20 lbs and more like 30 to really feel not-fat. That was 5 years ago.

In the interim, I have built a lot of muscle tone that didn't used to be there, so I am now thinking 180 is going to look A LOT better than it used to...can't wait to find out, anyway.
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Old 03-04-2009, 11:57 AM   #10
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I think it so sad that Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez are considered fattish by Hollywood standards when they are probably like a size 6 and gorgeous, too. And Jessica Simpson is normal weight right now, I think. I feel sorry for her and anyone they plaster on a magazine cover and call fat. Oh, and then there is Jennifer Love Hewitt - I wish I were as fat as she is. There is a trickle down effect from Hollywood which is so unhealthy for women and our daughters.
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Old 03-04-2009, 01:12 PM   #11
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Ya know, I think this is a really interesting topic! I have always been told that I carry my weight pretty well, and on the (VERY rare) occasion that I actually gave someone a ballpark figure of my weight, they would usually be pretty shocked. Even throughout losing weight, I've had people waaay underestimate my weight. One friend in particular told me, when I was around 195 lbs, that we "must" be about the same weight--she weighs 170-something! So that's a pretty big margin of error, heh. And another friend recently told me that she thinks we're about the same size, but she's like 6 inches shorter than I am... So I had to explain to her that for us even to LOOK proportionate, she would have to be a much smaller size, heh.

But then again, I'm sure I way underestimate people's weights, too. I never even notice when my friends have supposedly gained weight--the same friend who thought we were the same size when I was 195 lbs also claims to have gained about 10 lbs in the past few months, but I don't see it at ALL. She looks like a normal, healthy girl to me, and for her height I certainly would have guessed that she was in the 160s or lower. What do I know? Lol.

I also think you are DEAD-ON about us perceiving ourselves wrongly... I feel like I am completely clueless about what I look like to other people--I just don't know! I still feel pretty fat, so it's weird to me to think that I might look "normal" to other people, or that I could even be the same size/weight as people who look normal to me, like my friend--if she's still in the 170s, it's a distinct possibility that we're the same weight, or that I might even weigh less than her by now! That just blows my mind! But I guess that's something that will only come with more time/getting more accustomed to being this size. Or maybe I'll always feel fat... But I sure hope not!!
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Old 03-04-2009, 01:41 PM   #12
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I think that I do the opposite . . . . I'm usually pretty accurate when guessing someones weight. Like my bf, He was about 20-30lbs lighter when I met him, though I didn't know his actual weight. When I bought a scale a couple of months ago I told him how much I weighed and when he got on the scale I was only 2lbs over in my guesstimate.

The other week I was trying to figure out in my head how much my mom weighed, when she told me I was shocked because I thought that she was at least 35lbs heavier.

My short friend came over the other day to use the scale and I was right on point with her weight.
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Old 03-04-2009, 04:19 PM   #13
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Yeah... after I had lost 50 pounds I told my 6'3" BIG husband that I used to weigh more than him. He could NOT believe me and was floored. Even when I would get weighed at the doctor's they were shocked when the scale said 280+.
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Old 03-04-2009, 05:03 PM   #14
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Yes, I agree with you all...

HOWEVER...

When anybody asks me to guess their weight - I usually make a guess in my mind, subtract about 15 pounds, and then tell them that number.

I don't want to lie to them, and usually tell them that I DON'T want to guess... but if they make me guess, I subtract 15 pounds in my head.

I don't want to make people feel bad if I guess a higher weight.

I think it is unfair of some people to put me on the spot to guess.
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Old 03-04-2009, 05:22 PM   #15
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Rock Chalk Chick, that link was awesome, thank you. Makes me realize that 130-135 should be perfect for where I want to be, even though my ultimate goal in my head was 125.
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