While it often seems like everyone on Instagram looks perfect all the time, that’s just not the case. This constant stream of photos can set unrealistic expectations about body image, which is why one body-positive blogger shared side-by-side photos to show how easy it is to manipulate your image.
Milly Smith, of the Instagram account @selfloveclubb, posted two photos of herself on Monday. In the image on the left, Smith is wearing waist-high black tights and a bra, flexing her muscles and tilting her chin. On the right, she’s without the tights, showing off her stomach and looking at the camera straight on.
“Same girl, same day, same time. With a camera angle and clothing I can change my body into something that society would deem more acceptable than the photo on the right,” she wrote about the two images.
Smith blames the media for setting unrealistic expectations of beauty for people to uphold. “The media constantly wants us to be more filtered, more posed, more flexed. Making us ashamed, afraid and resentful of our bodies, our natural vessel.”
She goes on to discuss the damaging effects that manipulated images can have on people. “We compare ourselves to these images of posed, strategically taken photos. Comparing yourself is a thief of your joy/self love and even more so when you're comparing aesthetics to images that aren't reality.”
Smith mentions how Instagram is the worst social media app in terms of damaging body image and self-esteem, and she’s right. A new study by the Royal Society for Public Health in the U.K. ranked Instagram the most detrimental social networking app for young people's mental health, followed closely by Snapchat.
In the report, author Matt Keracher says that Instagram draws young women, who are most affected, to "compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality."
Women echo this sentiment. As one anonymous respondent says, "Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren't good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look 'perfect.'"
Keracher hopes the report will encourage social media platforms to let people know when images have been altered. Smith is doing her part to bring awareness to this false reality. She encourages people to “get rid of accounts that make you feel negative, get rid of people in your life that don't make you feel happy, loved and beautiful.”