*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
My mother was the local neighborhood librarian. Since the library was less than a single city block from my elementary school, she was able to leave her desk every weekday at 2:15 p.m., walk to the door of my elementary school before the bell rang, and walk me back to the library where I spent the afternoon with her until her shift ended, and it was time to go home.
One afternoon, a news crew descended upon the library. They were doing a human interest story about the library's afterschool programs, and they wanted to interview my mother for the news.
She enthusiastically agreed. Although my mother was a beautiful average-sized woman, she knew what they always said about being on television. "The camera adds 10 pounds."
At least my mother knew there was a chance she wouldn't like the way she looked onscreen. It would have been worse if she had been totally unprepared.
My mother and I got home just in time to catch her on the news. Even though she was apprehensive about how she would appear, we were both excited.
We sat and watched as the library appeared onscreen. "There it is. There it is," we shouted.
Then my mother came into view wearing her beautiful orange sweater. I thought she looked wonderful, but the camera did add those ten pounds she was so worried about.
"I look so fat," she lamented. "They say the camera adds ten pounds, but it looks more like twenty. I never want to be on television again."
Fortunately, she was able to see the humor in the situation, and we had a good laugh at her expense.
True to her word, she never appeared on television again. To be fair, no one has asked her since that day, and it's been decades.
It turns out, the camera really can add 10 pounds, or at least make you look like you've gained weight. This is because when you're on camera, the lens distorts your proportions, making you look wider and shorter than you actually are. So if you're feeling a little self-conscious about your weight in pictures or videos, don't worry. The camera is probably adding a few pounds.
We're probably used to it these days with our omnipresent cellphone cameras and ubiquitous selfies, but my mother wasn't accustomed to seeing herself on camera as often back then as we are now.
What do you think? Does the camera add ten pounds, or was there a different reason why my mother was so displeased with her appearance when she saw herself on the nightly news? Comments are welcome.
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