Health Zone: Body Image: Are You the Shape You Think You Are?; They May Spend Hours in Front of the Mirror, but Most Women Have a Distorted View of Their Size. We Challenged Four Volunteers to Try to Pick out Their True Body Shape from a Selection of Images Altered by Computer

Article excerpt

Byline: SALLY JANES

HOW WE ALTERED THE BODY SHAPES

SARAH, SIZE 6

Sarah Sherbourne, 18, works as a care assistant. She's 5ft 4in, is a size 6 and weighs 7st. CHOSE THINNER

WHEN I picked this image, I just thought, "That's me, the skinny one."

I didn't choose the real one because I thought it had too much meat on the thighs and arms - when I look in the mirror I don't see any meat on me at all.

I hate my body shape. I think I'm too skinny and when I'm lying in the bath I can see my bones.

Being this slim makes me feel self-conscious. I always wear coats when I go out because I'm worried about my chicken arms and I never dance because I'm aware of how my knees stick out.

I'd like to be around eight stone but I have a very fast metabolism so it's hard to put the weight on. I can never find clothes to fit - even kids' clothes are no good because they're so short.

People always dismiss my problem and tell me that I'm lucky - but I don't agree. Bigger women with weight problems get far more sympathy than I do.

Having found out which is the real me makes me feel a bit less insecure. I'd still like to put on weight but I feel more confident because I know I'm seeing myself as slimmer than I really am.

EXPERT'S VIEW: Sarah is a very slim size six and sees herself as much thinner than she really is. For her to choose the image that's thinner than her is the equivalent of a size 14 choosing one that's fatter.

FATTER

We gave the models hips, a wider waist and chunkier thighs fatter arms, bulkier and calves

THINNER

We slimmed down the arms, made the waist narrower and trimmed the hips and the legs

ROSANNA, SIZE 8

CHOSE THE TRUE IMAGE OF HERSELF

Rosanna Sherbourne, 43, is a mother of four and works as a cleaner. She's 5ft 4ins, takes a size 8 and weighs 8st 5lbs

I THINK I'm a pretty good judge of body size and I knew I'd pick the right one. The fatter ones were too chunky and I knew straight away they weren't me.

Now that I've seen them, I never want to put on weight.

I was a size six when I was 18 and stayed the same size after having four children. Even when I was pregnant I only went up to 9st 7lbs.

My shape hasn't changed but I've become a bit bigger on the waist and hips.

And I've become harder on myself. When I look in the mirror I see things more now than when I was younger.

EXPERT'S VIEW: It's not surprising that Rosanna chose the right one. She's the eldest and has four kids so she may be a more realistic woman.

CATHY, SIZE 12

Cathy Biddle, 31, is a full-time mother of one. She's 5ft 5ins, is a size 12 and weighs 10st.

CHOSE FATTER

I automatically chose the biggest image of me. That's the way I think of myself. The other girls all said, 'don't be so stupid, that's not you', but I honestly thought it was. …