“Go and find the people that you know
Show them all your good parts
Leave town when the bad ones start to show”
I love Linda Wells. Whether you read beauty magazines or not, you should open Allure (one of my favorites) and read Linda Well’s Letter From the Editor in each issue. This month, Linda outed herself as a liar in “Pants on Fire. She admitted “for years, I lied to my sons about my age- and not by a little.” She explained that her son was writing a composition for school and asked how old she was, she said 36 and remained “36” for years. And she knows what you’re thinking and said “what mother lies to her children? Me, clearly, and without missing a beat.” Before you judge, chances are there’s something you flub, fib or let’s face it totally lie about.
I remember when I was a new RD working in research. I had someone I was counseling as they took part in a study. I poured over this participant’s food journal and couldn’t for the life of me understand why she wasn’t losing weight. I went into my friend Linda’s office for advice. “C’mon Lauren she’s lying on her food journal or as they say under reporting.” I was stunned, it hadn’t occurred to me that someone wouldn’t be completely forthcoming about his or her food, this was research after all. Years later, I now know there’s “under reporting” when it comes to weight as well. When I ask most new clients how much they weigh, it’s always less that what the scale ends up saying. I know, I know some of it is clothes, some food consumed that day and some of it is not wanting to weigh what we do, so we lie.
A study in Ethnicity and Disease found women misrepresent their weight more than men and white women even more so than women of other ethnicities. The authors concluded “this may be because a fixation on thinness is more common in whites” Women fib about their weight ever to those closest to them, to their partners, best friends and even their mothers. A UK study found the average weight lie to be 9 pounds.I always thought of myself as more of a height liar. I placed myself at 5’2” but did not know that for sure (more on that later). Height lies are more common among men though the lie is usually an inch or less. There’s only so much leeway there. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts several years ago found that 60 percent of people lie at least once during a 10-minute conversation. So if everyone is telling untruths about their age, weight and height, doesn’t it level the playing field? It becomes like vanity sizing. If all the 8’s become 6’s, does it really count?
So why tell the truth? One interesting study split participants into two groups. One was told to tell fewer lies and the other encouraged to lie. Polygraphs were used for verification. “When participants told fewer white lies than they did in previous weeks,, they reported four fewer mental health complaints (such as stress or sadness) and about three fewer physical health complaints (like sore throats and headaches).” And I loved this from Dr Alex Lickerman in Psychology Today “telling the truth motivates us to strive to become all the good things lying helps us pretend we already are”
At the end of the Allure article, Wells says “Today is my birthday. I’m around 50…or 54” I thought I should face the truth, or in my case the tape measure. I had a feeling I was ½ inch to an inch off…and I was. I’m not 5’2” I’m 5’3”! While I’m not sure what it says about me that I lied in the wrong direction, I hope it’s proof that sometimes the truth isn’t that scary, try it.
Are you more of an age, weight or height fraud? Why do you think we lie about these things? And if you want to stop pretending, spill your actual height, weight or age in the comments (you only get the mental/physical benefit if you previously lied about it).