Instagram is, in my opinion, the best form of social media, but it isn’t without its downfalls. The abundance of posts shared by celebrities and models can have a negative affect on our self-image without us even realizing it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve scrolled through a fitness model’s account and wished my body were different—if only I had her thighs or her butt…
We’ve all done it and most of us are guilty of adding an extra filter or maybe editing certain imperfections out of our own photos. It seems pretty harmless, but fitness blogger and psychologist Stacey Lee is proving to the world how drastic an effect Photoshop can have on not only our bodies, but our self-esteem.
Stacey Lee, a psychologist and fitness blogger, is going viral for her before-and-after photos that reveal just how unrealistic Photoshop can be.
It’s not uncommon for fitness bloggers like Stacey Lee to post side-by-side transformation photos on Instagram. However, Lee’s photos reveal a different type of modification—how her body looks with and without Photoshop. Lee’s pictures show how a few minor touches can transform a “real and fit” body to something that is “idealized and impossible”. She insists that this unrealistic editing is harmful to the subject’s personal body image.
As her Instagram handle @psychandsquats hints, Stacey is also a psychologist and several of her captions give insight into the psychology behind body image and self-esteem.
She writes for the above photo:
One of the recurrent themes I treat in my profession is body image and its effect on self esteem.
Self esteem is defined as confidence in ones 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 me measured correctly.
One of the reasons behind this is that the measuring stick we use, is based on lies, manipulations and imagined ideals.
We are primed to believe a certain standard of ‘beauty’ is the goal.
We are shown images every day which are not realistic, even the small changes to photos or advertisements make a difference. 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, shit 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.
This image was not created to say I don’t like how I look in the real photo, it’s to say the opposite actually. I love the work I’ve put in to look like the photo on the left.
The point of this image is to show that when something that is already ‘good’ is altered to be ‘better’, it teaches people that your ‘real’ isn’t good enough.
I don’t want to ever perpetuate or encourage that twisted notion. So I post these photos to combat that idea and to raise awareness of the damage it can have.
Lee also admits that she stopped following other fitness accounts that posted noticeably edited photos, as they were having a negative effect on her own self-image. Seeing women who shared real, untouched photos of their bodies gave Lee the confidence and motivation to work towards her own goals and personal bests.
The photo above isn’t the only transformation Lee has shared—she’s posted several comparison photos, even one in a bikini and the difference is shocking.
At first glance, the pictures don’t seem too different until I noticed that her butt had grown and her waist had been slimmed down to an unhealthy size. Not to mention, the Photoshop makes her legs look completely airbrushed and unnatural. Lee is absolutely stunning in reality and clearly not in need of any modification, which is exactly her point—embrace the real and don’t try to transform yourself into society’s idea of perfect.
She captions the photo:
How many times have you been tempted to add a filter, tweak the cellulite, remove the blemish, maximize the booty, in order to portray a more ‘socially acceptable’ version of yourself to the world? Because you feel you aren’t ‘enough’ as you are.
Subconsciously we are primed to find certain body types more acceptable. This can be very subtle changes to photographs seen on a daily basis. But these small changes resonate deeply within our minds. Shaping our beliefs about the way we ‘should’ look, and therefore creates unrealistic comparisons and perpetuates negative self talk which becomes low self esteem.
She couldn’t be more accurate. I think we’ve all been guilty of this at one point or another. Even something as simple as a filter to hide this blemish or that “imperfection” is a product of what we’ve been conditioned to think is socially acceptable.
Not all of Lee’s photos are digitally altered, though. She also shares before-and-after pics that reveal how simple adjustments in posture or wardrobe can drastically change an image.
Literally, all she did here was roll up her shorts and adjust her posture and the difference is insane!
SOCIAL MEDIA IS A HIGHLIGHT REEL
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.
There are very simple tricks to the trade.
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.
So, the next time you look at a photo of yourself and think about editing your “imperfections” away, remember that the real you is beautiful and unique. Don’t compare yourself to another’s “highlight reel.” Think about Lee and her before-and-after pics. Do what makes you happy and if that means adding a filter, then go for it, but please know you are gorgeous just the way you are.