I think that by now we all know social media is a bit of a con; your friends aren’t posing in crystalline lakes for the majority of their day-to-day life.
Moreover, there are so many tools to airbrush, lift, and tone bodies (and let’s be real: female bodies) that we can barely trust that the person in the photo looks like the person posting it.
Sara Puhto is a Finnish content creator who has taken that idea and run with it; she has a huge following of nearly 400,000 people who like to see how fake pictures and social really are.
She posts a series of Posed v. Unposed photos of herself in a natural, relaxed state and in a heavily curated version. She does so to discourage people from comparing themselves to others online; after all, Sarah’s pose and the reality are different!
The series came to Sara, who spoke to BuzzFeed, back in 2016.
She says she was looking at other peoples’ photos for inspiration in a fitness journey. “I initially got the idea to post posed vs. not posed photos [when] I was looking at photos of people on Instagram.”
“I felt like I was the only one constantly looking at images on Instagram and feeling like I was never good enough, as I was comparing my body to all the ‘perfect’ pictures,” she continued. “But I started realizing I wasn’t the only one, and I didn’t want others to keep feeling the way I did — being obsessed with this idea of having to look ‘Instagram worthy’ all the time. So I started posting photos of what the reality is behind my Instagram photos.”
So now Sara spends her days exposing her own reality. Flexed and unflexed…
Sara hopes that people understand that “the people in these seemingly ‘perfect’ photos don’t look like that all the time.”
“This perfection [some people are] chasing doesn’t actually exist, and therefore we shouldn’t stress so much over it, and [instead] learn to start appreciating ourselves how we are naturally,” she continued. “We need to realize that these images we see daily can be edited, posed, etc., and are not always a realistic depiction of bodies and the diversity of people in society. We all come in different shapes and sizes, and it’s impossible for us all to conform to a certain body shape. Your uniqueness makes you special. It makes us beautiful, and we shouldn’t need to change ourselves to accept ourselves.”
She notes that “[Sharing these photos] helps me as well, on days where I don’t feel well — either mentally or emotionally — about my body. It helps having a platform to be like, ‘Hey, it’s OK to not be OK; we can embrace that as well!'”
“I just want to highlight the importance of the non-linearity of self-acceptance and body acceptance,” Sara concluded. “It’s completely normal and human to have ‘bad body image’ days. We can’t expect to love and be happy with ourselves 24/7; it’s completely human for emotions to change as life goes on. And therefore we shouldn’t be too self-critical or hard on ourselves when these days do come about.”