Instagram Confessions



Can you spot the editing in these photos?

These days we are feeling more and more pressure to look perfect when we present ourselves to the world via social media since we are surrounded by imagery of flawless celebrity bodies and even just our peers looking more and more glam.

Gone are the days of pixelated selfies taken in poor lighting and uploaded with a crude filter and a thick black border that we once knew when Instagram first became a thing. These days camera phones are impressive pieces of kit, and we are putting far more effort into setting up our photos before we take them. 

Finding the perfect lighting (ring lights are becoming more and more popular), perfecting the most flattering selfie angles, and filling your entire camera roll with selfies before you choose the perfect snap to post are the norm, especially now that cameras show so much more detail than they once did. These days we take it so much further than just applying a filter.

How many of us feel pressured to look perfect?

We wanted to get some real data on just how much these perceptions of perfection affect us all, so we surveyed 2000 Millennials and Gen Z over the age of 18 (1000 from the UK and 1000 from the USA) to find out just how many of us are truly feeling the pressure to look perfect on Instagram.

The results spoke for themselves, with 67.5% of participants admitting that they do feel under pressure to look perfect on Instagram. 68% of Brits and 67% of Americans admitted that they felt under pressure to look perfect, with 49% of Brits admitting that they have edited their photos using Facetune or a similar app, and 42% of Americans also admitting to doing so.

A further 18% of Brits surveyed said that while they had never edited their photos using one of these apps, they had considered doing so, and 18% of Americans said the same.

An overall 63.5% of people surveyed admitted that they had either altered their appearance or considered doing so - a figure that closely mirrors the number who said they feel under pressure to look perfect.



Faking it

While having procedures done to physically change the things we may be slightly insecure about or unhappy with is becoming a lot more common and socially acceptable (botox, lip injections, cheek fillers, and skin treatments are now pretty much accepted as the norm by many people) a lot of us are turning to editing apps to take things a step further and enhance our photos in ways that don’t actually mirror real life.

While this may be something as innocent as smoothing our skin or removing blemishes, some editing apps such as FaceTune allow users to take things much, much further. Using inexpensive apps, it is now possible to enlarge or pinch in body parts, completely change the shape of your face and body, and eliminate perfections until you actually look like a completely different person.



Our experiment

To show just how easy it is to edit photos in a way that completely alters your appearance, we worked with blogger and influencer Claudia Wright to demonstrate this. Using only the Facetune and YouCam Perfect apps, we took some images of her and completely transformed them. The goal was to take an already beautiful girl, and turn her into an entirely different person, to highlight the fact that even when there aren’t really any improvements to be made the tools are there to completely alter reality.

The end result is a series of photos of a girl who does not actually exist, which begs the question… how much of what we see online is actually even real?

The after photos may not initially look like there is anything fake about them to the untrained eye until they are placed side by side. While we have taken things to the extreme here and taken very little care to avoid things such as warping her surroundings, the apps are so good at what they do that it is perfectly possible to take a slightly more reserved approach and go about your editing in a more subtle and less noticeable way.

The main takeaway from this campaign is that while we are already aware that the standards of beauty we see in magazines are something that we should not feel bad about ourselves for not living up to, it is becoming more and more important that we apply that same rule to social media and Instagram too. After all, those perfect girls at the beach may not actually look like that either.

Fancy sharing our GIF?

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