OPINION: Instagram vs. Reality

As a female young adult in the world of social media, it becomes a part of your lifestyle. We take every message, photo and video in and feel affected by it whether we like it or not. 

As enjoyable as it can be, sharing videos with friends and posting stories, what we see isn’t reality mostly. 

Instagram, the biggest photo and video sharing app started off so innocent, people showing their coffees, posting their views. Now however, all I see are beautiful, highly edited, almost ‘perfect looking girls’ posing in car parks or in Dubai.

Maybe this is just who I follow, but this has spread to all social media apps this type of ‘influencer’ content. Now an influencer refers to:

“Instagram users who have an established credibility and audience; who can persuade others by virtue of their trustworthiness and authenticity. Your brand’s influencers are users that employ your brand hashtag who have the largest number of followers.”

They tend to be the girls we see on the likes of Love Island or the Kardashians, not your everyday university students like myself and believe me, they don’t look like people like me. Though behind closed doors, minus the filters, editing, posing and fillers they do.

It seemed to all start with lip fillers which was rarely seen in the UK, but that all changed after reality star and now-influencer Kylie Jenner admitted to lip fillers in 2015 which gave UK clinics a 70% increase in the same procedure. 

Pictured: Kylie Jenner

That trend was slowly followed by a Brazilian Butt Lift, also known as a BBL, which is a procedure which refers to moving body fat from one area and putting it into another, mostly the buttocks to get that Kardashian-type backside. 

Since 2015, procedures for a BBL have gone up by 77.6% according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, which is a surprise due to the high death rate of the procedure. 

The rise in body altercations and body image issues has been linked to the social media app. A study completed by King University which surveyed 1000 men and women found that 87% of women and 65% of men compare their bodies to what they see online, with 50% of women comparing their bodies in an unfavourable way. 

It does seem like Instagram is blind to these issues, in fact they don’t help as they allow users to create and use filters which gives the appearance of plastic surgery such as lip fillers and nose jobs, which research shows makes people feel worse about themselves.


Instagram claims to have remove these types of filters, with a spokesperson saying –  

While we’re re-evaluating, we will: 1) remove all effects from the gallery associated with plastic surgery; 2) stop further approval of new effects like this; 3) and remove current effects if they’re reported to us.”

Though many filters still stay up and running, people are still trying to get them all removed as eating disorders and body image issues increase due to the app. According to the National Eating Disorder Association a recent study of women between the ages of 18 and 25 showed a link between Instagram and increased body image concerns, especially linked to ‘fitspiration’ photographs.

After speaking to a 22, female, final year university student who aims to keep anonymous, she had strong feeling on the topic commenting –

The way that on Insta all these girls and women have amazing bodies but most of the time they’re just angles or surgery or they don’t really look like that or work out 3 times a day. These people that have these amazing bodies normally have insane dieticians and PT’s that help them get to that or it’s just a good angle”.

Followed by “Bikini pics and girls wearing really cute dresses (especially bodycon) and like night out pics cos they always look incredible and it makes me feel terrible because I know I won’t look like that if I wore the same thing”. –

Credit: Unsplash

“I know people that have had these things done because it’s always been an insecurity of theirs and they’ve only now been able to afford it or seriously got it done. At the moment we’re seeing influencers and celebs getting filler and procedures reversed, then I’ve seen people around me getting filler dissolved or going more natural so it’s definitely a trend and a lot of girls get these things done to fit in, especially lip filler as it’s so trendy and almost fashionable which is just a crazy concept to me”. 

From seeing several statistics, people’s views and opinions, that Instagram is doing more harm than good. Making people’s mental health increase to spending hundreds to thousands on body alterations, something more needs to be done with these websites to change and improve people’s view of themselves. 

With mental health being a less taboo subject these days, there should be increased work within the social media and body image connection, because it seems as if surgery and editing is normalised now.

Young minds, mental health charity offers help to people who are struggling with body image, click here for more.