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Instagram vs. Reality - How Social Media Affects Self-Esteem

Published: March 6, 2020    

Updated: March 22, 2021

March 6, 2020    

Instagram vs. Reality - How Social Media Affects Self-Esteem

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Are you living an Insta Lie?

With 68% of people admitting to editing their selfies, doubt has been cast over the authenticity of the lives we share on social media.

‘Insta Lie’ was a term used by Ditch The Label in their video highlighting some of the most common lies posted on Instagram. They define an Insta Lie as “an intentionally false representation of real life on social media.”

Find out how Instagram vs. reality trend can impact your self esteem and what you can do about it.

How has Instagram influenced us?

instagram reality

When Instagram burst on the scene in 2010, the photo-based social network was a refreshing break from the super-polished images in magazines and on TV. Instagram gave us a more candid, unedited, ‘instant’ insight into people’s lives.

In Instagram’s early days, sophisticated photo editing was reserved for professional photographers. Now, there is a wealth of photo editing apps available. We can all airbrush our photos to fine-tune the image of ourselves we want to share with the world.

Covering up the odd blemish seems harmless, but when does it become too much? Celebrities especially have been accused of using Instagram editing apps to portray an unrealistic body image.

A quick Google search for celebrity Photoshop fails points to the queens of reality TV - the Kardashians - as the biggest offenders. With more than 600 million Instagram followers between them, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and co. have fueled the conversation around unrealistic presentations on social media. A Huffington Post article even goes so far as to label the Kardashians “toxic to the body positive movement.

Even the President’s daughter is not immune. When Ivanka Trump posted a photo of herself in front of the Taj Mahal during the Trump family’s visit to India, there was speculation as to whether the image had been edited to make her waist appear slimmer.

The Instagram vs. Reality Trend

Not everyone is OK with heavily-edited Instagram images. Influencers and bloggers are starting to call out the excessive photoshopping and careful curation of images talking about Instagram vs. reality using #instagramvsreality. There are already over 100,000 posts using this hashtag.

Influencers including Malin Björk and Victoria Niamh Spence are using the hashtag to highlight the outtakes and multiple unflattering photos it takes before they achieve the perfect shot.

Natalia Taylor took it a step further when she recently staged an entire trip to Bali in an Ikea store. Her aim was to highlight that we should not believe everything we see on social media. “Sometimes people want to lie about who they are,” she explained. “Don’t trust everything you see on the internet!”

How Instagram Affects Self-Esteem

social media and self esteem

When you are presented with an endless stream of perfectly-filtered images, it is easy to buy into the idea that everyone else really is living their #bestlife.

Comparing yourself to the false reality or carefully selected highlights of others can lead to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. No matter how much success you achieve, no-one can match up to the picture-perfect Instagram lifestyle. It simply is not real.

4 ways to manage the impact of social media

​​​​​​​Too much time on social media can impact your mental health, but do not delete your digital presence just yet. Social networks are also a great way to stay connected with friends and family.

Here are some tips to keep your social media experience positive:

1. Review who you follow

Is there a certain account you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to? Unfollow them. Do not allow room for any negativity to creep into your social media feed.

2. Limit your social media use

Switch off notifications for social networks on your phone and set aside a specific time for checking in. Maybe it is on the train ride home from work or during your lunch break.

Set yourself a time limit - a maximum of ten minutes at a time. Set an alarm or stopwatch to make sure you stick to it.

3. Think about what you post

We all have a part to play in how social media is used. Make a conscious effort not to edit your own photos. Influencer Sara Puhto did this when she decided to move away from #instagramvsreality to “just the reality”.

4. Stop comparing yourself

When you feel comfortable in your own skin, the need for external validation from likes on Instagram or constantly comparing yourself to the next big influencer will stop.

Do not allow anyone else to affect your feelings of self-worth. World-renowned therapist Marisa Peer developed her ‘I Am Enough’ message to massively increase your own sense of self-worth, whilst becoming permanently free from self-sabotage and self-destructive thoughts and behavior.

Marisa Peer quotes

“When you truly understand that you are enough, you can live a life full of meaning and purpose, free of the feelings of inadequacy that so many people struggle with. I want people to not just ‘know’ that they are enough at an intellectual level, I want them to feel it, live it and embody it,” Marisa explains.

You Are Enough

You can experience the powerful effects of ‘I Am Enough’ by following Marisa’s simple exercise.

I Am Enough exercise

Hear more about ‘I Am Enough’ straight from Marisa Peer in this free masterclass.

In just 90 minutes, Marisa will help you break through the wall of self-doubt, self-sabotage and self-shame that has been holding you back.

  • Understand WHY you feel like you’re not enough (find the exact moment and the exact reason feel this way).
  • Rewire your brain to attract the things that you want most in your life. Whether it’s in the areas of wealth, health or love.
  • Start on your path to living the life YOU deserve (but never really thought was possible for you).

Get started

Author: Marisa Peer
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Marisa shares her 30 years experience as an award-winning therapist to celebrities, top athletes and even royalty. She is the creator of RTT, the new method that is transforming the face of therapy.
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