This before-and-after proves an important point.
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."
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.
“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.
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."
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.
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.”
Lee wants people—particularly young women—to see their Explore page for what it really is: a “highlight reel.”