Sometimes, it’s easy for us to forget that social media isn’t the same as reality. But it’s incredibly important to remember that what we see on our screens can often be an altered, upgraded, and airbrushed version of what’s really out there. If we realize it’s partly an illusion, we won’t feel so bad when we compare our lives to those of seemingly ‘perfect’ Instagram models. However, some people take photo-editing several steps too far.
The “Instagram Reality” subreddit is dedicated to showing how heavily some people photoshop their pictures before putting them up on social media. Whether it’s inspired by people’s insecurity or narcissism is difficult to tell. But we collected some of the best examples of over-shopped pics from the subreddit for you to enjoy.
So scroll down, upvote your fave pics, and leave a comment below to let us know which images you thought were the most shocking, and why you think these people tend to use too much Photoshop. Also, check out Bored Panda’s previous posts about Instagram vs. Reality right here, here, here, as well as here. Scroll down for our interview with the "Instagram Reality" moderators about their community and about the culture of excessive photoshop, and be sure to visit their subreddit as well.
Bored Panda talked to the "Instagram Reality" moderators about why some people go overboard with photoshopping their pictures. Here's what they had to say: "Insecurity, envy, money. Take the girl sitting next to you in Statistics who's scrolling through her latest selfie shoot and disappointingly thinks to herself, "[Damn], is that a pimple? I can't let people see that, it's embarrassing." She casually opens up FaceTune, smooths out the pimple, and boom—now there's an image she feels comfortable sharing online. Unbeknownst to her, there's a seed that's been planted in her mind now that it's as easy as using this app to change anything she finds unattractive about herself at any time, then it snowballs; from taking in just a bit of your tummy for a more slender silhouette until eventually she's landed on a waist the size of her neck."
"The light improvements are so gradual over time, she stops noticing that the waist she's creating is 1.) of course, not hers 2.) (as we often see on Instagram Reality), anatomically impossible, and 3.) that she's now set an expectation subconsciously for herself (and outwardly for anyone following her) that she needs to keep up this flawless appearance; which means sticking to the edits she's made for every photo she posts in the future. What she doesn't realize is in this process, she's simultaneously creating and constantly reinforcing her own insecurities."
We were also interested to know the subreddit mods' opinion about why some people are scared of presenting themselves as they truly are. "Everyone wants to be loved and desired, everyone wants to feel that they belong. The harsh, scary truth of the matter for anyone is that the more you resemble what people around you consider universally attractive, the more likely you are to have access to those things in your life. So, you begin to think, "Well, what do I need to change about myself to fit in? How do I become more attractive?" Based on what magazine covers and many an Instagram Explore page shows you, that image is a tall, long-haired, fair skinned woman with smooth skin, a slim yet hourglass figure—oh, and don't forget, the perfect butt. In comes photo editing apps, offering you the chance to finally be her. Even if it's only online."
"Instagram Reality" moderators told us that the community greatly supports inclusivity: "The Instagram Reality team is a huge supporter of inclusivity. All races, body types and genders need to be fairly represented in the media. Sanity Sunday was created as a day for our subscribers to share an ad (or influencer) they've seen which support that idea as well. In the long run, the only way to reduce our obsession with self-image is to normalize those we see in the media; not just celebrating how they look, but who they are as a person."
The "Instagram Reality" subreddit was created just under two years ago. "u/Zaza9000 began to notice IG models who looked insanely different in real life. She wanted to create a platform that exposed the fakeness to people who were being fooled."
It’s very easy to feel insecure in the information age. Every day, we’re bombarded by images of beautiful, successful, healthy, wealthy individuals. While this inspires some of us to aim for greatness, others can feel insecure because they realize the huge gap between their dream lives, and where they currently are.
Melody Lyons explains that having grown up in the United States, she was raised to be dissatisfied with the way she looked, which meant she felt ashamed of herself. However, she still advocates not using photo-editing apps or keeping the editing to a minimum: say, for removing a big red spot that would simply ruin the pic.
But according to her, if you start radically changing who you are in photos, you start believing that there’s something wrong with you. And that just increases any feelings of insecurity you already had. In other words—the less photoshopping you do, the more comfortable you feel being yourself. After all, nobody is perfect and never will be. Even models think they eyelashes/jawline/pinkies could look better.
Also, the more people there are out there who photoshop their pictures, the stronger the culture of ‘perfect’ Instagram pics. This means that there are even more individuals who feel insecure because they have to compare themselves to endless masses of photo-edited pictures.
Meanwhile, Michelle Linker told The Guardian that the pressures of social media are very real. “People are publicizing usually something really cool or fun that they’re doing, or at least they make it appear that way. I absolutely feel insecure.”
She continued: “I do feel a pressure to look particularly good. I would never post a photo that wasn’t flattering of me. I feel anxiety over how many likes I get after I post a picture. If I get two likes, I feel like, what’s wrong with me? Some people judge Instagram by deleting photos that don’t get enough likes. I wouldn’t do that, but I would definitely second-guess my intentions with posting them.”
Do you photoshop your pictures, dear readers? Have you ever been in a situation where you post a photo and constantly check to see how many likes it got? Share your experience with everyone in the comments.