An easy way to take a hit to your self esteem these days is a simple scroll through Instagram.
The stats don’t lie – a study last year found that Instagram feeds do more damage to body image than billboards.
Karina Irby is doing her best to play a part in changing that.
Weekend reality check sponsored by a naughty treat of McDonald’s and just being a woman… ???? Just a friendly reminder to not judge a picture you see online and compare yourself instantly because who knows what the next frame could have been… ???????????? My pictures from today are only 5 seconds apart and I’m very confident a onlooker thought @ryanjonestown was taking a sentimental photo of my baby bump. Happy weekend❤️
The 28 year old is the founder of the hugely successful Moana bikinis, the bikini brand who were doing cheeky cut swimmers before they became a mainstay on Australian beaches.
With over 800,000 followers on her personal Instagram (and a further half a million on Moana’s) her reach is enormous. Most of her photos are her at the beach, unsurprisingly, wearing her brand’s bikinis. But these are not your stock standard bikini model shots.
Irby’s posts have been going viral recently for her captions calling out the ‘Photoshopping’ that happens on Instagram by showcasing the ‘expectation’ versus ‘reality’.
In one such post, she shared side by side shots of the same photo – one raw and one edited.
“Ok. Let’s play a game. Can you spot the eight edits I’ve made to this photo of myself? Less comparing yourself and others to online images and more self love and education,” she captioned the picture.
In another, she compares sticking her stomach out and sucking in and the difference it can make to her body.
“I guess I did it because, it sounds cheesy, but I got bullied my whole life and called names because of my eczema. As my business following grew rapidly, so did my personal following so I thought I had a super power to make the things I got teased about cool. I tried to find something cool and trendy about having eczema and curves,” she told Mamamia.
“We’re all guilty of scrolling through social media and seeing pretty images and people with perfect skin. Now that I work in marketing and editing photos, I know you can Photoshop the hell out of it. Now I have an eye for it I wanted to make it a public thing so young girls wouldn’t see pretty images and think that’s what it’s like.”
It may seem like a small action, but it’s one with big ramifications.
“I’ll scroll through Instagram and see young girls comment on pictures like ‘This girl is so beautiful’ or ‘She’s so pretty I want to kill myself’,” she says.
“I want to show them that not everything you see online is real.”
When her first before and after went viral, she says the reaction was about 90 per cent positive.
“Young girls were tagging their friends, messaging me to say thank you. It was an overwhelming response and so cool,” she says.
The other 10 per cent? The bane of the internet’s existence, trolls.
“I’ve also been bullied online, I’ve developed my body through exercise online over the last few years, as well as just being a woman developing a body, and I getting a lot of crap online from trolls who think it’s super easy to get surgery and comment on my body saying ‘that’s just surgery or fat injections or butt implants’,” she says.
However Irby says rather than let them get her down, they drive her to achieve more.
In an ideal world, there’d no editing or photoshop on Instagram. Until then, Irby will continue doing what she’s doing and hopes others will join in too.
“The first thing I want to see changed is skin smoothing. Most girls online overly skin smooth to the point they don’t have facial features,” she says.
“Everyone should rep exactly what they’ve got, adding a filter to make colours pop is one thing, but skin smoothing is a big thing.”