Instagram is like a warped, digital Disneyland for adults: Dreams really can come true.
Are you sitting at home in day-old socks, drinking cold coffee your cat already dipped a paw into? With smart angling and the right lighting, the lonely scene is suddenly an aspirational snap of you enjoying a midmorning latte on your non-existent veranda.
It's not just scenery that Instagram heavily filters; it's bodies, too. There's a much-discussed culture of fitspiration and thinspiration, existing just under the surface of photo-sharing social media.
Bloggers take hundreds of shots to make their lives seem beautiful and vibrant. Even ruling goddess Beyoncé gets accused of making her body look thinner than it is.
Since the pressure to be thin is so omnipresent, it's especially striking when users speak out. Look at the viral fame of model Essena O'Neill, 19, who used her Instagram captions to explain the truth of her posing, dieting lifestyle.
Now, there's Amanda Tarlton of the blog Real Life Recovery Diary. The anorexia survivor posted a photo for #TransformationTuesday, in which the “after” photo shows her looking significantly slimmer. But, the situation isn't exactly what meets the eye.
In an accompanying blog post, Tarlton writes,
If you knew nothing about me, you'd probably look at that picture and think 'wow she looks great!' You'd congratulate me […] But for me (and for many other women), a thinner body does not mean a healthier body. In fact, it means the exact opposite. My 'perfect body' came from starving day after day, from slowly destroying myself.
Amanda goes on to explain that her body came at the expense of her health, menstrual cycle and sanity. Every calorie was fetishized and pushed away. She begs her readers to think twice before judging the pictures they see on Instagram, adding weight means so little when it's compared to wellness.
I would give anything to be the girl on the left again […] So the next time you see a before and after picture, take a minute before you comment. Remember you don't know what it took to get there.
You heard her, ladies. Instagram is a fantasy.