I recently posted this photo on Instagram and Facebook and it got such a positive response that I’ve finally decided to post this blog that has been sitting in my drafts for a while. I’ve been hesitant to post what I wrote sometime last year because I was unsure about how people would react to it but I’m hoping that it will help people who struggle with constantly comparing themselves to others on social media.
This is what I wrote when I originally posted the above photo:
“Here’s a different sort of before-and-after for you: On the left is a photo of me as i am “in real life”. On the right is a photo of me after about 30 seconds of editing on an app called “photowonder”. It’s one of hundreds of photo editing apps available for smartphones and it’s really easy to use.
You may be asking yourself why I’m sharing this but I promise there is a point.
Every day we see hundreds, if not thousands, of selfies and other photos posted on social media. We have all heard that comparison is the thief of joy but, unfortunately, comparison also comes naturally, especially to us women.
I am sure we’ve all seen photos of someone who looks incredible all the time and have immediately felt insecure. We subconsciously compare ourselves to them and their perfect photo.
But I’m here to remind you to remember that most of social media is an illusion. People will post only their highlights and share their best moments. That flawless selfie? It was only posted after the other 20 that were taken didn’t make the cut. And who knows if that perfect photo has been edited or photoshopped? After all, this only took me 30 seconds to do. Imagine what i could have done in 5 minutes! 30 seconds was all it took for me to slim my waist, give myself something like a thigh-gap, shave off a bit of my quads and enlarge one side of my chest. And I think it’s not too obvious that I’ve done all these things. If I scrolled past the photo on the right on Instagram, the idea that it has been drastically edited wouldn’t even immediately spring to mind.
Let this be a warning to you. Use social media and be inspired by others but always keep in mind that editing like this occurs more than you think. No body is perfect but technology has made it very, very easy to present such an illusion.”
This post isn’t about targeting or bringing people down, it’s about raising awareness and helping those who may be struggling internally.
As you might know, “fitspo” images are everywhere on social media. The single hashtag #fitspo brings up millions of posts on Instagram alone. That’s a ridiculous amount of fitspiration if you really think about it.
Some fitness accounts have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers. These accounts and people behind them may motivate you to eat well and exercise in the aim of achieving a similar body but I want you to keep something in mind: it is very easy to create illusions via social media and alter photos to suit the message you’re trying to convey.
I’m not saying that it’s always the individuals who originally post the photos who do the photo-shopping. Yes, some people do photo-shop the photos they post on social media and as you can see, I photoshopped the one I posted above. You may have come across an account on social media or noticed at least one person who photoshops their photos; you can see it through the distortion of the backgrounds, extreme curves, that the person looks completely different in real-life and so on BUT it’s not always the person in the photo who alters them. If pages want to show off a particular look or promote a particular product that does a particular thing then they may photoshop random images (without the consent of the subject) to help them convey their message. For example, there’s a “booty squat” page on Instagram that pretty much only posts photos of women’s butts and links in teatoxes, “booty bands” and other sponsored things in the description. I’d say that at least 1/2 of those photos are photoshopped. Why? Because big butts are popular and will attract likes and promote the sponsored content so the account owners photoshop the photos to help themselves.
At the end of the day, no matter who does the photo-shopping, the photos are still presenting something false. And these photos are spread around the internet and are used as fitspiration despite depicting very little of reality.
Here are some examples of how photo-shop has been used in ‘fitspo’ photos. You may have come across some of the pictures before (either in their original or edited forms). The real photos are on the left and the edited versions on the right.
I’m not trying to “call out” the people in them as I’m almost 100% certain that these photos have been edited and shared by a third party, not by the model themselves. (If the models themselves had photoshopped the photo, I doubt they would have posted the originals on the internet as well.)
Can I just add that I think the original photos and the models in them are perfect just the way they are? I am more inspired by the photos on the left than those on the right as the models look real and their bodies attainable – and what is more inspirational than looking towards something for motivation and knowing that you can achieve something similar?
So please keep in mind that photoshopping and photo-editing is prevalent in fitspiration photos all over social media. Take the things you see with a grain of salt and try to keep your expectations realistic and based off real, unedited images. Draw inspiration from people you know, people who are real and honest and try not to compare yourself to images that may not be a true representation of the person in them.
“No body is perfect but technology has made it very easy to present such an illusion.”