No one is perfect, in fact, we are all far from it
However, log onto Instagram and suddenly everyone is competing to look as perfect as possible, whether they admit it or not
It can become incredibly anxiety-inducing to see images of women my age who have the perfect body, hair, facial features, clothing, and makeup. Every time I see these kinds of pictures, I think "oh wow she's really gorgeous," because I love to see women showing confidence and having fun, but then an aching feeling creeps in that I am not beautiful. For a long time, I had a difficult time with this and I even decided to take a break from Instagram because it was damaging my self-esteem. I know for a fact that I am not the only one who has struggled with this.
It seems like everyone on Instagram is trying to market themselves these days. I remember when the app first became popular and posts were much more casual with little care about other people's judgment. Over time, the app transformed into something more vain with self-image and perfection. Now I log onto Instagram and my feed is filled with girls using photoshop, Face Tune, colorful filters, and other editing techniques to make themselves look impossibly flawless. I don't mean to put down anyone who practices these photo tools because they can be very fun and aesthetically pleasing, so power to you. I am even guilty of editing my pictures to make them look better. However, it is hard to dismiss the idea that seeing overly edited content can create a false perception of the way people look in real life. It certainly made me look in the mirror and wonder how those girls looked so perfect when I had so many flaws. This is also why I think a lot of girls edit their photos. It's kind of like a domino effect. It wasn't until I started to follow accounts with a body-positive message that I realized how orchestrated it all is on Instagram.
There are two women on Instagram who really opened my eyes to how easy it is to manipulate photos even without photoshop
One of these women is Danae Mercer (@danaemercer), a successful journalist and eating disorder survivor who knows firsthand the struggles with body image. Danae posts images of her body's imperfections to help normalize the fact that our bodies do not look picture perfect all the time. These posts include comparison pictures of her standing up and stretching with a flat stomach and more toned legs versus sitting down with stomach rolls and visible cellulite. The point of posts like this is to illustrate how our bodies can look different in various positions and at multiple angles. She also demonstrates how people pose on Instagram to make their bodies appear different than they really are, like pushing your hips back, not breathing to get a flat stomach, standing up straight, and popping your leg out. Does any of that sound natural? Of course not. Thinking about the lengths people go to look good in pictures made me realize that they might look more like me than I thought. Another woman on Instagram whom I love to follow is Khrystyana (@khrystyana), a curvy model who I discovered through Aerie's Instagram page. Khrystyana posts similar content to Danae, including videos to show how photos can be posed.
She also posts herself wearing fashionable outfits and swimsuits to normalize curvy women loving themselves and enjoying fashion. Her confidence and ability to love her body are contagious. Other accounts that spread these positive messages include Aerie (@aerie) and "Feminist" (@feminist). I love Aerie because they post a diverse array of models wearing their clothing and they create clothing for all body types. "Feminist" is a great account as well because they spread content with self-love messages and stories from women who have learned to love their imperfections. One of my favorite posts from them shows six women who all weigh 154 pounds, but all have very different body types.
Overall, I think that even if you create posts where you try to look your absolute best by manipulating it slightly, it is important to be aware of the fact that your body cannot be perfect all the time
There will be days when you look in the mirror and dislike what you see, but it's essential to remember that your body is not your enemy. We all have natural imperfections on our bodies like cellulite, stretch marks, scars, freckles, moles, and body rolls. We all become a little bloated after eating or drinking and we have all experienced a bad hair day. The point is, make sure that you don't internalize the images on Instagram as being completely real. For a long time I felt like I was stuck in a place of thinking that I had to fit a beauty standard every day and if I felt I didn't meet up to the standard, I would get horrible anxiety about anyone seeing me. In fact, I sometimes still feel this way. Since I started following more positive accounts, that anxiety has decreased slightly, but it is definitely still a work in progress. I think that viewing more realistic and positive images on social media could really help out anyone who is dealing with body image.
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