Need more proof that the so-called "real" images you see on social media show anything but reality? Look no further than a before-and-after Instagram post from Monday by 28-year-old psychologist and influencer Stacey Lee.
"Instagram is a place where we see people's best selves," wrote Lee, who has struggled with disordered eating. "People don't like to freely share the parts of themselves that don't measure up to society's standards of beauty and acceptability and we like to put up a front that shows us in the light we choose." (Related: Fit Bloggers Reveal Their Secrets Behind Those 'Perfect' Photos)
To demonstrate her point, Lee took two photos in a pair of high-waisted leggings. On the left, Lee showed herself with the leggings pulled up to cover most of her stomach. On the right, she pulled the leggings down to her hips. The takeaway? Same woman, same leggings...but her body looked totally different in each image. (Related: These High-Waisted Workout Leggings Flatter Every Shape—and Never, Ever Fall Down)
"Don't compare your bloopers to someone [else's] highlight reel," Lee wrote, commenting on the way so many of us scroll through photos of "perfect" bodies in our social feeds and feel like we just don't measure up.
DONT COMPARE YOUR BLOOPERS TO SOMEONE ELSES HIGHLIGHT REEL I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again Instagram is a place where we see people’s BEST selves It’s basically a never ending first date and job interview rolled into one People don’t like to freely share the parts of themselves that don’t ‘measure up’ to societies standards of beauty and acceptability and we like to put up a front which shows us in the light we choose I’m well aware that I am of a smaller build, and have what some people label the ‘acceptable’ body and I have been shamed for trying to promote body positivity and confidence People have told me I should stop talking about such things as I couldn’t possibly understand what feeling insecure about my appearance feels like... What people don’t understand is that thoughts, fears, insecurities and negative self evaluations do not discriminate against body composition, size and shape. They can affect everyone My bloopers which I compare to others are my own, and it’s taken a long time for me to combat the fears which come along with them, they are not up for debate or discussion with people who have not lived a day in my shoes I do not minimize anyone’s feelings, because no one deserves that kind of treatment and lack of tolerance and understanding This is the body I own, it’s the body I have worked for, it’s the body that has helped me through every difficult day, it’s the body that has survived all of my mistreatment And regardless of if I am making it look like the left, or letting it hang free on the right, it’s mine. Bloopers and all Stop comparing yourself to others Start learning to accept yourself #edrecovery #bodypositivity #mentalhealth #exercise #strongwomen #healthylifestyle #selflove #active #bbg #psychology #bodypositive #bodybuilding
Lee tells Health she's been sharing Instagram versus reality and Photoshop versus non-Photoshop posts for a couple of years.
"I hope it helps [my followers] foster some self-acceptance and begin to challenge what they see on social media," she says. "I hope it helps them be kinder to themselves, and I hope it helps strengthen the message that our body's job is not to look good. Our body's job is to keep us alive. And our job is to give it the fuel and tools it needs to do so." (Related: The 7 Best Workout Leggings With Pockets)
Lee is a strong proponent of intuitive eating and self-love. While she admitted to having insecurities in the past, she said it took a long time to overcome them. She added that people often criticize her for having an "acceptable" body, telling her she can't relate to those who feel insecure about their bodies.
"What people don't understand is that thoughts, fears, insecurities and negative self-evaluations do not discriminate against body composition, size, and shape," she continued in her post. "They can affect everyone." In other words, her body may have fit the parameters of what a woman's body should look like...but she was unhappy and felt bad about herself anyway. (Related: This Fitness Blogger's Post Will Change the Way You Look at Before-and-After Photos)
These days, Lee embraces her body—and she wants other women to do the same.
"This is the body I own, it's the body I have worked for, it's the body that has helped me through every difficult day, it's the body that has survived all of my mistreatment," she wrote. "And regardless of if I am making it look like the left, or letting it hang free on the right, it's mine. Bloopers and all." (Related: These Women Show Why the #LoveMyShape Movement Is So Freakin' Empowering)
Lee wants people—particularly young women—to see their Explore page for what it really is: a "highlight reel."
This story originally appeared on Health.com by Blake Bakilla.
Because our bodies are badass and feeling strong, healthy, and confident is for everyone! Help us spread the body love and be a part of our #LoveMyShape body confidence movement: Post a photo or video on social sharing why you love your shape. And check out Movemeant Foundation, our partner in empowering women and girls to be body positive.