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Why "Fitspiration" Instagram Posts Aren't Always Inspiring

 

Some social media platforms exist to share information, while others help people connect with past, current, and prospective friends. If we're being honest, though, one of the main purposes for social media is to help us curate and show off our lives.

Everyone presents an ideal version of themselves online. And sometimes other people's photos can inspire you in a positive direction, whether it's to make avocado toast, book a trip to Greece, or go on a hike (thanks a bunch, Lea Michele). But sometimes, the photos can make you feel not so great about yourself.

This week, Lady Gaga posted a pic of her morning fitness routine. She was holding a Pilates-style hip thrust while working a resistance band around her thighs. Get it, girl! And, yes, her stomach looked completely concave in the pic—due to the move (and gravity), she explained in a caption: "fyi I'm not really that thin it's just the stretch! Trust me! Haha."

Up early for hip exercise! I have to do these everyday to keep my hip strong, otherwise I have pain. ( fyi I'm not really that thin it's just the stretch! Trust me! Haha ✌️)

A photo posted by @ladygaga on Jun 22, 2015 at 8:35am PDT

Other fitness devotees have also addressed the illusions we often see online. This spring, YouTube star Cassey Ho—better known as Blogilates—uploaded a clearly edited pic saying, "Finally got my perfect body." She then linked to a video of herself in her underwear, reading nasty online comments while a Photoshop tool slims down, plumps up, and smoothes out her features. It's been a viewed 6.8 million times, and has received an outpouring of love and appreciation from her followers.

Finally got my perfect body. Watch my new video where I share with you all my body slimming secrets www.youtube.com/blogilates (link in profile)

A photo posted by Cassey Ho (@blogilates) on Apr 16, 2015 at 9:21pm PDT

And Australian trainer Mel V once posted a faux before-and-after image to show how those weight-loss commercials rely on special colors, angles, and fake tanner to make it seem like the subject lost weight. Magic supplements? Not so much, it seems.

You don't even need to go to lengths like those to make your body look awesome on a smartphone. You can take as many photos as your data storage and your vanity will allow, choosing among them all for the most flattering option. After that, Photoshop isn't even necessary to make it look even better—after all, the whole appeal of Instagram is that you can play with lighting, shading, colors, and more to improve yourself even further. If you're truly dedicated (or insecure, depending on how you look at it), you can even download an app like SkinneePix, which helps you remove 5, 10, or 15 pounds from your appearance. Witchcraft!

You might feel tricked when you realize an image is subtly 'shopped, or delighted when a celeb or expert comes clean like the ladies above. But why do we feel the need to battle it out to be the sexiest, skinniest person at the gym? Most of us don't look particularly elegant when we're working out. Even Victoria's Secret angels look like sweat bombs at the gym—well, probably. It's just not an attractive endeavor.

Most of us have one move that makes our body look randomly, insanely good. Maybe it's warrior one in yoga, where your legs look amazingly toned and curvy. Or perhaps you finally managed a chin-up, and want to show off your amazing form. Everyone looks bad-ass doing bicep curls in the mirror, even if you're lifting the 8-pound weights. We all have our moments of awesome at the gym, and they should be celebrated.

So you don't need to feel bad about someone's Instagram. Applaud their achievement! 'Like' it, and comment with the thumbs-up emoji. Let it push you—in a good way. Yes, that snap of a pal dangling upside down during aerial yoga is really cool, and maybe you should try it, too. Just don't compare your progress to other people's. It's their highlight reel, after all.

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