Instagram is a great place to go to feel terrible about yourself, according to a few studies. Especially among teens and young adults, Instagram has proven a black hole for users to compare their entire lives, warts and all, against someone’s perfectly-manicured Instagram feed. As the platform has proven little more than a gigantic popularity contest, users can start to feel down about themselves as they compare their life’s progress and accomplishments against those of users with thousands and thousands of followers.
Aware of the power the wield in the world of the app, Instagram bloggers, especially those who use their accounts to track their fitness regimens, fashion exploits, and healthy eating habits have begun to break the fourth wall on their accounts. From posting untouched photos to demonstrating how their poses and use of light make them look better than they do in real life, Instagram influencers want to make sure their followers don’t become discouraged by what they see on their feeds.
One common trend has surrounded post-food bellies. The vast majority of “weight loss” or muscle definition pictures are taken before the user has eaten much of anything and after an intense workout, and as such, their stomach appears much flatter in these photos than it really looks on an average day. Bodies are designed to stretch and expand when filled with food — it’s not only normal, but a very good thing, that our bellies bloat a little immediately after a wholesome meal. Insta-famous body bloggers now regularly post photos of themselves both before a meal and after a meal to reduce the shame surrounding a little bit of belly bulging.
Many are also actively shattering the illusion that they look bodacious and model-eqsue at every waking moment of the day. From the makeup they choose to wear to the way they pop their hips and position their legs, these bloggers know the tricks of the trade for keeping their viewers intrigued and engaged with their bodies. However, if you were to run into one of these people at the grocery store, you may not recognize them, since the fluorescent lighting doesn’t work in their favor. One Instagrammer started a trend in which she posted side by side photos of an unstaged photo and a photo in which she posed to catch the light at the most flattering angles to accentuate her body in the all the perfect ways.
Finally, some male fitness bloggers are hell-bent on dismantling the expectation that they’re always happy, high-intensity paragons of masculinity. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson regularly appears on talk shows and on his own Instagram channel to discuss his struggles with depression and self-loathing, neither of which would usually be associated with the behemoth of a man with a nickname like “The Rock.” In very plain language, Johnson implores men especially not to hide their struggles but to seek help from friends, loved ones, and professionals.
Social media, and Instagram in particular, can be breeding grounds for bullying and negativity, but the real young influencers are reclaiming their humanity.