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Flatter Your Figure --- Comely on Camera

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June is the month many fresh graduates look for work. This reminds me of my first job in the newscast of a Chinese community TV station in California. The photo above was taken on the last day of my two years there. The camera crew of the TV station felt sorry that I had to leave for a family reason, despite my promising potential for promotion to a news anchor's position, so they had me pose at the anchor desk and snapped this photo as a souvenir for me.

At the time I thought I would return to the TV station someday to fulfill my career dream of becoming an anchorwoman. However, that TV station went out of business after I left. When I was ready to work full-time again, I didn't see any local opening in broadcasting. Then I settled for something else. 

In the next few years, I stayed depressed about losing my mother to cancer, and my maternal grandparents to their broken hearts. That kept me from actively trying to re-enter the field of broadcast news, but I did appear on TV several times in recent years for other purposes. Based on these experiences, I will talk about what to wear on camera, considering more and more people get to appear on TV nowadays.

There are already many articles on line about what colors work best on TV, so I'll address a different issue--- how to avoid looking fat on camera. We all know people tend to appear bigger on TV. The strong studio lighting will optically expand your image. How do we minimize that dreadful effect?

Well, while the expanding effect is inevitable, we can prevent it from exaggerating our fleshy body parts. On TV, the most noticeable flesh is in the upper arms. That means you'd better cover them unless they are exceptionally bony. Even though my upper arms are thin, I would cover them on TV--- I'm afraid my fair skin might reflect the studio light and make them appear thicker than they are.

What covers up your upper arms on TV must be loose-fit sleeves. Tight sleeves would seem to give you an extra layer of flesh even if they were black.

The weather reporter in the photo above is actually skinny. You must notice how thin her waist is. But her upper arms in black lace tight sleeves look chunky for her proportions, unjustly making her look a bit matronly.

By contrast, the weather reporter in the photo below is pregnant, but her upper arms look quite thin in the loose-fit black sleeves.

 A black bolero with loose-fit sleeves can flatter your arms on TV, and of course in real life, too.

Since it's the upper arms that need coverage, you don't necessarily have to wear long sleeves. You just must make sure your short sleeves are not too short. Cap sleeves are the worst. They cover the bony joints between the shoulders and the arms but reveal the fleshiest part of the upper arms. Your underarm jiggle will become more apparent right below the cap sleeves, and the TV camera will further exaggerate that.

See the underarm jiggle in the photo above? Think about it --- this is a slender weather reporter; if you are not so slim, your underarm jiggle would look worse beneath the cap sleeves!

The same weather reporter looks much better in loose-fit three-quarter sleeves, even though the sleeves are off-white, which looks like white on TV due to strong lighting (pure white would be too bright for TV).

Light colors won't fatten you as long as they come in a solid fabric and hang loose on you.

This light-colored blouse in particular is more slimming than others thanks to its black colorblocks, which go along the shoulders and arms to trim them optically.

A somewhat loose blouse is more flattering than a skin-tight T-shirt because the latter will look like adding an extra layer of flesh to your body. However, while the blouse should be a little oversize, we must cinch its waist, or else...

Can you believe this is still the same weather reporter in the two photos above? Without showing her waistline, even though her blouse is in a dark color, she looks thick around the midsection, as if having gained 10 pounds!

It's important to accentuate your waist if you are going to be standing on TV. Don't say you don't have a waist. Oprah always appears in waist-cinching outfits. If you are her size, you certainly can follow her example.

That said, if you are going to be sitting on TV (as a talk show guest, for instance), don't wear something that fits your body too closely.

The form-fitting yellow Mandarin blouse should look very nice on the talk show guest when she's standing, but it creases and goes up as soon as she sits down! You don't want those unflattering bulges around your midsection while sitting!

For a talk show guest sitting on a sofa, a loose blouse or dress would be the most flattering.

We can tell this talk show guest is somewhat big-boned. She's obviously NOT as narrow-framed as those weather reporters shown above, but we don't see an extra inch of fat on her. The loose plaid dress camouflages all her probably fleshy body parts, such as upper arms, ab, hips and thighs. Plus, bias-cut plaid has a slimming effect (as explained in two of my previous posts and This is a terrific talk show guest outfit!

There's a similar bias-cut plaid dress in the ad below, with a slimming V neck, too.

The short sleeves of the dress are slanted toward the center, so they should cover your underarm jiggle if any. With its loose fit, you'll be sitting comfortably.

What if you need to stand first and then sit down on TV? In this case, wear a loose blouse or dress but cinch it with a substantial wide belt, which will make you look slimmer whether you are walking, standing or sitting.

The belt must be made of sturdy material so it won't wrinkle when you sit down.

Above are my tips for looking as skinny as you possibly can on TV. If you have questions, welcome to ask me in your comments or drop me a line at [email protected].

By the way, I've received a media invitation to the annual Santana Row Summer Fashion Shows. I will give you the best highlights from there for the rest of June. Just remember to come back here every week!


About the Blog

Flatter Your Figure is a weekly blog on about how to make the latest fashion work for real women of different body types. It presents a new post every Wednesday or Thursday. 



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