As any woman on social media knows, scrolling through a feed of seemingly perfect celebrity bodies can do a number on our sense of self-worth and overall mental health.
Stacey Lee, a psychologist and fitness blogger, might know better than anybody about the harm those manipulated images can do.
“SOCIAL MEDIA IS A HIGHLIGHT REEL,” Lee writes in a recent post on her Instagram, where she shares fitness and well-being inspiration for her 21,000-plus followers. “Don't compare your outtakes, bloopers, and negatives to someone else's highlights. Don't forget that the 'perfect' photos you see took a camera roll of attempts.”
In the May 22 post, which had garnered nearly 600 likes as of Monday afternoon, Lee shares a pair of photos side by side that show just how big of a difference clothing and posture can make when it comes to appearances.
“There are very simple tricks to the trade,” Lee writes. “That perfect angle to give the illusion of the tiny waist. The booty pop to give more shape. The strategic lighting. The high waisted pants. The tensing and flexing. No one looks like their highlight reel 24/7. I know I don't.”
In another pair of side-by-side photos, which she shared six days ago on her Instagram, Lee shows how some simple Photoshopping tricks can make her thigh gap bigger, her waist smaller, her skin tanner, and her arms thinner.
“One of the recurrent themes I treat in my profession is body image and its effect on self esteem,” she writes in the post, which had garnered more than 12,300 likes as of Monday afternoon. “Self esteem is defined as confidence in ones (sic) own worth. However when that worth is tied to an image, a number on a scale, the size of clothes, the smoothness of skin, the smallness of a waist, the bigness of a butt, the definition on your abs, or the gap between your thighs, your worth will never [be] measured correctly. “
She goes on to share a simple social media hack that’s helped boost her own self-confidence.
“We are shown images every day which are not realistic, even the small changes to photos or advertisements make a difference,” she writes in the more recent post. “They send subconscious messages saying that you aren't enough, and never will be. As soon as I stopped following accounts that used [Photoshop], professional images (regularly that is, sh** photo shoots are fun I won't knock you for that), constant filters, and altered their images, my self esteem improved. Being able to see real women share their real bodies, which still look incredible! Gave me the confidence to work for my realistic goals, and to measure my progress on a REAL measuring stick.”
In the comments sections of her posts, it’s apparent that Lee’s mission is helping alter the lives of her followers.
“I hate idealized beauty standards,” one commenter writes on the more recent post. “It's honestly the worse and not possible. Reality should really set the tone here and so glad that you're starting this here.”