Is Instagram changing our lives for the better or for the worse?

By: Siena Di Roma

In modern day society, social media plays a huge role in our lives. It determines where we shop for our clothes, where we take our next vacation, what we cook for dinner, and even what workouts we are going to do at the gym. Influencers on Instagram post countless images of trending products in order to influence their followers. Like these influences, we are all driven by a desire to gain more followers. Although, this is done more easily with the best instagram bot. These endless images put so many different ideas in our head of how we should be living our lives. Fitness and nutrition has become a wildly popular trend on Instagram and while influencers can inspire people to live a healthier lifestyle, there is a dark side to this that many people do not realize.

It is almost impossible to scroll through Instagram without seeing an ad for a new diet or a post from an influencer about what foods they are currently cutting out of their diet. Typically, these fitness Instagram influencers have million of followers and receive even more views on their posts each day. Weight loss is a huge trend in our society and is the focus of many of these posts. Influencers, such as Kayla Itsines, Kelsey Wells, and Triniti Jean, post daily photos of their abs, their workouts, and their meal plans. Many influencers have even created their own workout guides, apparel, and apps. While this may seem inspiring to some, others have found it to be overwhelming and to have a negative effect on their body image. Studies have shown that even briefly looking at Instagram can have a negative effect on self esteem.

There are countless stories of girls becoming too obsessed with their image and with dieting and working out and much of this can be attributed to the constant images of fitness influencers on Instagram. The main problem is that not all of the influencers who claim to know about fitness and health are as qualified as they may seem.

In order to combat this negative body image problem on Instagram, there is a whole other group of influencers who have made it their mission to promote body positivity. While they are not as focused on losing weight or having a six-pack of abs, they promote loving yourself and accepting how you look. A few examples are MankoFit, Jen Sinkler, Anna Victoria. These women post photos of themselves that are not always the most flattering, but that are real. They remind women that no one is as perfect as they look on Instagram. They are also helping to stop the constant comparisons that many women make to those that they see on Instagram.

This post from Anna Victoria is a perfect example of an Instagram influencer spreading body positivity. She explains in the post that these two photos were taken only 2 minutes apart and the only change is the way in which she is sitting. It is important to have influencers like Anna to remind followers that no one is as perfect as they may appear on Instagram. Instagram influencers that constantly post perfectly posed photos of their bodies are creating unrealistic expectations for society.

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This Article Has 17 Comments
  1. Carolyn Riesinger says:

    Hi Siena,
    I’m glad you decided to write about this because it is something that subconciously effects such a large number of people. Influencers can be fun to follow to learn new tips for healthy living, but it can also be dangerous because most of them aren’t certified health professionals. Companies need to take this into concideration when picking which influencers they want to have promote them. Thanks for exploring this!

  2. Emily Gibson says:

    Siena,

    I loved your topic of this post! I think the way social media influences body image is often overlooked. We like to use social media and engage with others, but often times we don’t take into account how this might affect our mental health. I personally follow a few fitness accounts for workout videos I can use, but I do sometimes find myself comparing myself to the models I see while scrolling. The fitness accounts often inspire me, while the photos of models on the beach often times makes me self conscious. I agree with you that influencers can have a huge impact on their listeners’ self-image. I am glad to see some of these influencers recognizing it, and trying to make a change.

  3. Taylor Kissinger says:

    Hi Siena,

    I completely agree with all of your points! It’s so easy for people, especially women, to compare bodies to to others on social media. Sometimes it feels like everyone has the “perfect body.” I really appreciate counter-influencers who keep it real by posting genuine stuff like Anna! Do you think that comparison happens on social media in other ways too?

  4. Erin Joo says:

    Thank you for your post Siena. I think you bring up a very relevant point to many users on social media who follow or see content posted by influencers. It’s very easy to compare our lives to the ‘highlight reels’ that we see all over social media. As you said, I think it’s important that influencers give a peak into the photos and videos that aren’t the most flattering or edited. That gives viewers a reality check that things aren’t always as they seem. This also has benefits for influencers by strengthening the connection and trust that followers have with them. As influencers become more relatable, it is possible that followers will engage more with them.

  5. Elliana Meinert says:

    Hi Siena, I really appreciate you writing about this topic for your blog, since many people don’t like to acknowledge the “dark side” of fitness/nutrition. I definitely agree with what you said about Instagram contributing to people’s low self esteem. I know for me, it can be hard to scroll through my feed and not compare myself to all these picture-perfect girls. I love the fact that body positivity is on the rise, and many influencers are portraying themselves and their bodies in an authentic light. Instagram users need to realize and understand that no one is as perfect as they make themselves look online.

  6. Daymon Standridge says:

    Siena,

    Thank you for this post to remind people of the importance of loving yourself. It is so hard in today’s society to live up to these unrealistic expectations of beauty and fitness and it gets really easy to go down a rabbit hole of self doubt, when constantly comparing yourself to others. People like the Instagram influencer you showed are so important for people to see to realize that they do not have to look like all the people they see online.

  7. Abby Wolff says:

    Hi Siena!

    I really enjoyed your post and feel like I relate to the majority of what you said. Instagram can serve as such a place of inspiration for me in terms of health and fitness, but can also contribute to self-esteem issues and a lot of comparisons. Many influencers have the intention of inspiring others to build a healthy lifestyle, but in turn, this can discourage people from making the effort if they feel it is an unattainable goal.

  8. Madelyn Dwyer says:

    Hi, Siena. I really enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for bringing up this topic. Like you mentioned, the fitness community on Instagram can be both inspiring and overwhelming. Without a doubt, the unrealistic expectations it promotes can be extremely damaging to our self-esteem. I love what body-positive accounts are sharing and I hope more continue to pop up. In addition, I hope more mainstream-fitness accounts consider the impact that they may be having and choose to have a more realistic, authentic approach.

  9. Nuchwara Youngcharoen says:

    Hi, Siena. Thank you for the posts! I really like your topic and I find myself resonate well with other people. I have to admit that I really like to follow fitness influencers in order to get tips and work out plan from them. It is very useful for me. However, I can see how other people might perceive it as redeeming and affecting their self-esteem. I find myself fall into that rabbit hole couple of times when I excessively using Instagram. To mitigate that, I find myself posting some photos that encourage people to see the “before” and “after” version of photo in order to see that the reality is different from what people normally and often portray. I try to be more authentic about what I try to convey. I believe that is a mechanism of my brain trying to remind myself that people are all the same, they wouldn’t show their ugly side, they would show their beautiful side to the world. With that action, I fine it up-lifting for myself and I hope what I try to do would be up-lifting for other people as well.

  10. Jared Myers says:

    While this post is mostly focused on representations of peoples’ bodies, I think this holds true in a broader sense. Social media is so often a curated highlight reel which often may not match reality. It’s important to realize that, and it’s a lesson I’ve learned in my personal life.

    For example, I had this friend. We’ll call her Elrad. She does a lot of travel to beautiful places, which she does on a shoestring budget and a permissive week-on-week-off work schedule. When I first met her, I thought she was a lot of fun, really exciting, and very positive. People wanted to be around her, and I was no different. She didn’t post a lot on Instagram, but every post was uber positive, with beautiful pictures and a long, semi-grating (to me) monologue with life advice.

    I got to know Elrad over about two years, but the more I got to know her, the more I learned about her dark side. She was obsessed with her personal appearance on social media. She was exceptionally insecure, and while she buried this deeply, she became abusive and manipulative when she felt exposed. She repeatedly personally threatened me if I posted a picture of her without her approval first, which she did routinely of others, often when they were asleep and not the most photogenic. Her photo manipulations were merely an extension of the manipulation of people in her personal life.

    I bring all of this up because her Instagram overall gave you this sense that she had a perfect life and was this amazing person. Deep down, though, she is the vainest, nastiest person that I have ever met. Sometimes, it’s important to remember on Instagram that looks can be VERY deceiving. You’re seeing a curated snapshot in time, chosen by the person to reflect a message. Is that message vain and self-serving, or uplifting? What are you consuming by looking at these pages, and is this person/page a positive influence on you as a person? The time you lose chasing these mirages can never be recovered.

  11. Oleene Perera says:

    Instagram plays host to many different communities but the fitness community is by far one of the largest. As with anything, I think moderation is best. It’s more enforceable with children but harder when we’re responsible for ourselves and our own mental safety/health. I hope more people bring up this topic with anyone they can, it’s important as our world continues to digitize.

  12. Rylee Marron says:

    I follow Whitney Simmons, who is a workout influencer for GymShark and she always posts her workouts. I definitely get the body positivity and the unrealistic expectations that can be set. Take the Kardashians for example, they are known for photoshopping their photos. And that’s not fair to the consumer. But I do like women like
    Whitney and Anna who post the real facts about it taking hard work and post workouts. It’s almost like getting a free personal trainer!

  13. Mary Osborne says:

    This is a such an important topic, I’m glad you’re writing about it. Instagram is all about making you and your life seem amazing (when in reality it’s probably not). Your description of fitness accounts reminded me about a new Instagram account I just heard of. It’s @babebody and it features two plus-size women who want to deliver “fitness inspiration w/out the intimidation.” One of the women was a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Rookie so it’s definitely still a little intimidating, but the account posts body-positive fitness inspiration that shows it’s about being healthy — not about what you look like. Accounts like this are a great opportunity for brands who could capitalize on the under-served demographic of plus-sized women who are into fitness.

  14. Carly Grossman says:

    Hi Siena, I really enjoyed reading your article! It’s definitely an important topic to talk about, especially in this day and age. It’s definitely hard, as a woman, to scroll through your feed and not compare yourself to others. There are so many fitness and nutrition accounts out there that are discouraging, only showing the good days and angles. On the other hand, there are also accounts that do the opposite and really try to relate to their users and talk to them as if they were their friends, posting about their bad days and posting their bad angles. I know I like to only follow influencers and health and fitness accounts that are real and genuine. Thanks for writing about this!

  15. Zhiheng Li says:

    Hi Siena,
    Thanks for your post. There is no doubt that social media platforms like Instagram occur daily in our life. People are consuming it for certain periods every day, even hours a day. The information and influencers on the platform matter what kind of information we gather and how to influence our decisions and mind. We need to wisely choose the channels and information we get. Personally, I use Instagram daily and search for topics I am interested in and something can acknowledge myself. I also looking forward to more influencers like Anna Victoria shares and educates positively on social media platforms

  16. Julianna Bourjeaurd says:

    Hi Siena,

    I love this topic. As a young female adult who is constantly using social media, it is totally inevitable to compare myself to other people and sometimes, as a result, feel lesser of the two. Because of this, I refuse to follow accounts that will hinder my self-esteem. The only fitness person I follow is @meowmix, who constantly talks about healthy meal planning and exercises. She is someone that encourages people to better themselves by incorporating healthy habits into lifestyles. However, I feel that there is a fine line between body-positive influencers and other influencers, as a lot of this identification relies on captions and so it’s important to pay attention to all the posted content rather than just focusing on a photo of someone wearing sports bras or bathing suits.

  17. Meghan Schroeder says:

    Hi Siena,
    Thank you for your post! Your post was very well written and brought attention to a reoccurring issue that many females struggle with. I understand it is hard to not compare yourself to individuals on social media, yet it is almost inevitable. I know I do. One of my classmates in high school (@victoriagarrick) has become famous on Instagram promoting and practicing healthy mental health and body image. She uses the hashtag #realpost to remind girls that more often than not posts on social media have been artificially captured or posed and then edited, representing a completely fake portrayal. She now is speaking at high schools across the country inspiring young women to be themselves and refrain from succumbing to focusing and believing in unrealistic expectations of society.

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