The Problems Instagram Poses When it Comes to Body Image

It’s no secret that photos of celebrities and models seen in the media are Photoshopped and edited, however, a recent trend among celebrities has surfaced leaving them subject to much backlash on the photos they post online. Over the last few years, celebrities have taken photo editing into their own hands. Celebrities such as Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, and Brittany Spears have been caught red handed while attempting to make their thighs thinner, butt fuller, and even their abs more prominent in their own photos that they post on Instagram.

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On multiple occasions, Beyoncé has been found editing her thighs to be skinnier despite the fact that fans adore her for her curves and body positivity. Notice the tilt in the step in-between her thighs?

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Here we see an Instagram post of Kim Kardashian (left) where she has slimmed down her waist and hips compared to an actual, unedited photo (right).Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 6.08.22 PM

The issue here is not that they’ve been caught editing their photos, the problem is the message that they send to their followers. Beyoncé is perhaps one of the most beloved and most influential women not only in the music industry but in the media. She promotes body positivity, acceptance, feminism, you name it, however, the message she sends in repeatedly editing her flaws out of her photos on Instagram tells her followers that your flaws are something that should be hidden away.

That’s something that people on Instagram have taken to heart. Everyday Instagram users use apps and filters to change their appearance and make their flaws disappear. Apps such as Perfect365 allow users to make their eyelashes longer and skin appear flawless. Meanwhile filters can be used to change the appearance of one’s bone structure and hide freckles.

These are just superficial changes, however, what about the message celebrities send in editing their bodies in photos?

 

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Recently Australian Instagram sensation, Essena O’Neill, quit using her Instagram account to project edited images of herself claiming that the pressure to be thin and overall time spent editing photos for validation led her to observe unhealthy eating habits and become depressed.

This Buzzfeed article describes O’Neill’s thought process for quitting the app and the pressure and experience of going three years with over half a million followers. In this video O’Neill explains herself further, saying she’s quit her Tumblr as well, only keeping her YouTube and Instagram to post unedited photos of herself to promote a healthier body image within the app. One of the main questions O’Neill asks is “Why is all my time spent looking at other people’s beautiful perfected edited lives and why am I spending all of my time trying to make my life look so edited and beautiful and perfect to the rest of the world?”

It’s a question that many Instagram users are afraid to ask but it’s crucial not just to our health but to our happiness.

As O’Neill and many other like-minded, enlightened Instagram users strive to promote healthy body image on the app, it’s important to understand that it’s perfectly okay, in fact healthy, to not look like models in magazines or the clearly edited photos of Kim Kardashian and other celebrities we see in the media.

For those interested, I interviewed residents in my hall on the issue, here’s what they had to say.

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