Even though the fitness profiles of Instagram are there to help other users stay motivated, they can have the opposite result.
All the pictures of tanned, fit and young bodies can unintended result in low self esteem for average people. Even those who actually care about nutrition and training can end up with low self esteem, because they only focus on the 1%, who are the fittest and have the best poses on all of their Instagram posts. The brain simply chooses to focus on the absolute elite and thereby “forget” the posts of those you actually can compare yourself with (menshealth; Instagram self esteem).
Many teenagers and young adults feel a pressure to look amazing on social media like Instagram, and afterwards in person as well because they do not want to appear completely different than on social media. The pressure to look stunning on Instagram is originated from to places.
One part of the pressure comes from other users’ posts on Instagram. Every Instagram user is constantly confronted with others’ beautiful pictures. These pictures could for example show a phenomenal journey from being overweight to a fit body.
Photo posted by @thereglaw on Instagram
When you, as a user on Instagram, are constantly confronted with pictures like these, it becomes the norm. It becomes the standard that every user tries to live up to what is posted.
When you take 20-50 pictures of the same motive, edit the best shot and post it, another pressure appears. For many, Instagram is not only for posting great photos. It is about posting pictures so great, they will get a massive amount of likes. Some users care so much about likes, that they will take down the picture again, if it does not get a certain amount of likes. Some users think that a small amount of likes equals that they are not pretty enough, thin enough – amazing enough to post on Instagram. This creates low self esteem and uncertainty about oneself (The Guardian; Instagram young women self esteem).
This extra self-awareness Instagram can create, can result in a very negative self image. When you always compare yourself with the best of the best others post, you are more likely to lose hope, and that extra roll on the stomach suddenly becomes a much bigger problem than it ever was. As an Instagram user you risk to get a self image, that are misleading because you are exposed to these perfect bodies all the time. You forget that these people are not living mannequins, who walk around being picture perfect all the time. You forget that they talk at least as many pictures to get the perfect shot, as you do yourself (Elle; How Instagram is ruining our self esteem).
People, who are overweight, can easily get the feeling of not belonging or not looking right if they use Instagram. Very few Instagram profiles show average bodies. Very close to none show overweight bodies. Instagram is filled to the edge with fit bodies.
Is there an overweight, who is brave enough to post a body picture, it is more the rule than the exception that they get body shamed. The comments could be “How can this person be happy with themself while looking like that?” and some users are even of the believe that it is completely accepted to comment degrading comments “because they choose themselfs to be overweight”. Apparently there are no space for diversity on Instagram.
Photo posted by @conversationswithstupidmen on Instagram