The “perfect” fitness photos we see on social media don’t always tell the full story. That’s what one body-positive blogger wants to remind us with her inspiring post on “Instagram vs. real life.”
Sara Puhto, 20, recently posted two side-by-side photos of herself on Instagram. In the right photo, she’s striking a pose and standing at a diagonal angle to the camera. The left “real life” photo is more candid, with the camera directly behind her as she steps onto a rock.
Though the photos were taken minutes apart, Puhto’s proportions look completely different in the two shots, which she says is a reminder of how dramatically camera angles and posing can affect your appearance in a picture.
“If I saw the photo on the left a year ago I would've instantly thought so negatively about my body, that all my hard work from working out was nonexistent,” Puhto captioned the photos. “But the thing is is that all bodies look different. Nobody's booty looks round and peachy from all angles. Nobody's body looks the same from all angles.”
In short, a single photo can never truly capture how you look, Puhto says, so you shouldn’t be hard on yourself for how you appear in one image.
“Don't eat less or miss out on your favorite meals/drinks or over exercise to ‘look good for a holiday’ or to ‘look good in bikini photos’ because there will always be angles that are ‘unflattering’ that might make you feel bad when you see them,” she wrote. "Don't hate yourself just because of bad photos, they do not define you as a person. You look the best when you're living life to the fullest and happiest."
Puhto, who is from Finland but is currently studying in South Africa, often posts side-by-side images like this, showing the disparity between reality and so-called “perfection” on social media.
When she started, she admits it was scary being so open and vulnerable about her body in such a public space.
“I was so nervous and almost didn't post it because I had no idea what kind of response it would get,” Puhto told TODAY Style in an email. “But now I don't get nervous at all because I tell myself that as long as one person benefits from seeing this post it will be worth it ... I know how horrible it feels to be insecure and dislike what you see in the mirror.”
Puhto’s recent post clearly struck a chord, racking up more than 12,300 likes on Instagram, and many women thanked her for her “gorgeous" and “uplifting" message.
All this positive feedback inspires Puhto to keep sharing her raw, honest photos. “[It] makes me so grateful that my posts can help others in such a positive way,” she told TODAY Style.
Still, while she’s all for honesty when it comes to social media, Puhto notes that she doesn’t blame people for posting only their most flattering pictures online. We all want to present the best version of ourselves to the world, after all, and fitness and lifestyle bloggers are no exception.
“It's understandable that these fitness Instagrams would post their best photos because they want to show off all their hard work they put into reaching their goals,” she told TODAY Style.
Basically, she says, there’s no harm in knowing your best angles and posting your most flattering photos, "as long as the people following these fitness lifestyle Instagrams know that what they ... post on Instagram (isn’t) an accurate representation of reality.”
Thank you, Sara, for keeping it real!