wellness

“Fake fat is all the rage.” The glaring problem with your ‘Instagram vs reality’ posts.

Instagram vs reality posts are those two side-by-side images we see all over our feeds. 

One image is the perfectly curated and posed version of ourselves that we share on Instagram, and the other (usually taken 30 seconds later) shows a less posed, less glamorised version.

Often the point is to show off micro-flaws such as fat rolls, skin pigmentation, stretchmarks, or cellulite. These posts are naively intended to remind us that influencers and celebrities are real people and that they have ‘flaws’ too. 

I hate these posts.

Watch: How to improve your daughter's body image. Post continues below.


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I hate these posts because the majority of people posting them are thin, white, able-bodied women who pose to accentuate their rolls or ‘flaws’ or, sometimes, to create new rolls entirely. 

The vibe is “here are all my flaws, and I love myself anyway”. The thing is that I live with all of those so-called flaws every day and nobody calls me brave.

My body and my rolls are there 100 per cent of the time. There is no photo angle or position where I can pose where I don't have rolls. I can’t use filters or poses to shrink myself so that I fit within societally enforced unattainable standards of beauty (ie. thin and white).

It’s just something to keep in mind the next time you're receiving comments from your followers about how brave you are for deliberately posing to show off what is essentially ‘fake fat’ or skin, while I'm here with a deep layer of adipose tissue 24/7 deleting DM's and dodging YouTube videos about how disgusting and irresponsible I am for loving my body.

I have a layer of fat that society is constantly telling me makes me ‘less-than’ and unworthy of so many things, a layer of fat that when smaller bodied people pose to create they receive praise for. Double standard much?

"I love my body even when it looks like this!" read so many captions below photos of thin women hunched over with the slightest rolls covering their six pack abs. Yes, your body is beautiful just the way it is, but so is mine. The difference is, my body isn't societally acceptable, yours is.  

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Here's the thing, we all grew up in a capitalist and patriarchal society that enforced certain standards of beauty, which means that the majority of us are struggling with some form of body image issues, self loathing or internalised fatphobia.

So when I see Instagram vs reality posts a small part of me celebrates because I recognise what a huge deal it is for some people and how that post is probably the beginning of their journey of self acceptance and ditching diet culture. For others, however, these posts are just a way to get better engagement with their followers or worse, to promote some diet shake, way of eating or exercising. Either way they need to stop.

I genuinely believe that people of all different body shapes, sizes, ability levels and health levels deserve to feel accepting and respectful of their bodies. 

But when people are sharing Instagram vs reality posts, although posted with the intention of lifting women up and inspiring them to love the skin they're in, in reality they're enforcing an 'ideal'. 

For most people these societal body standards are unattainable, and therefore can make them feel even worse and disempowered instead of empowered. This isn’t what body positivity is meant to look like.

Body positivity started as a movement for fat people like me, it was actually created by fat black women - a fact I am so grateful for. Its purpose is to inspire, educate and uplift people in marginalised bodies (ie. fat, disabled, black, POC, trans, queer, etc) to feel good about themselves, and most importantly to push back against the societal oppression and discrimination that people in different bodies face from mainstream society every day.

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Like many things, body positivity has quickly become a space that has been co-opted by white thin women on yoga mats who like to preach wellness (the new diet culture) and who post these Instagram vs Reality photos. 

Instagram magic and the right angles can take your rolls away and they can enhance them just as quickly. Fake fat is all the rage on Instagram, but only for one photo to show you how 'real' the influencer is. 

Have you ever asked yourself what effect forcing your body to have rolls or ‘flaws’ for you to love on social media might be doing to those of us who don't have a choice?

I’m not saying thin people don’t have a place in the body positive movement, but when you enter a space that wasn’t initially meant for you a certain level of care and compassion is needed. 

Try listening to the people who the space was intended for, educate yourself and do your Googles about why and how the body positivity movement started and most importantly, acknowledge your privilege. 

Eating disorders, body dysmorphia and beauty standards affect us all. Be aware that the bopo community is a safe space for fat people and people in marginalised bodies and be respectful of that.

There is such power in posting real and unedited photos regardless of the size of your body. 

Keep posting photos of fat, thin, coloured, disabled, able-bodies and all bodies. Let's normalise all bodies. But the side-by-side images need to stop. 

When you post an image of a 'real body' (with rolls or without) next to a socially desirable image on a flattering angle what you are really doing is reinforcing the idea that one photo is good while the other is bad. 

Not only that, but it's a privilege to be able to pose in ways that society views as acceptable or desirable. People in fat bodies don't have that privilege. We just exist. 

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So, while the intention behind Instagram vs reality posts may be positive and I do applaud the women who post them for clapping back against a lifetime of messaging that enforces only one type of beauty, I have to ask; is the comparison really necessary? Can you not just post the 'real you’ photo on its own? 

The intended purpose of these posts is to celebrate your body positivity journey and inspire others, but actual change and body acceptance isn't the result of comparing Instagram to reality. True body positivity is the result of living, posting and sharing only reality. 

The question is: are you ready to be that real?

For more from Lacey-Jade, follow her on Instagram.

Feature Image: Instagram: @laceyjadechristie ; Instagram: @saggysara

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