Editing Our Instagram Photos is Toxic and We Should Stop

As women, we are constantly bombarded with perfect images of perfect women living their perfect lives; they are meant to represent the “ideal” for which we should all strive. We always see heavily edited photographs of models, and we always worry about the number of likes we get on our Instagram; that sometimes make posting the “perfect” picture seem like the most important thing. But, this desire for perfection can have harmful and lasting consequences on your mental and physical health — remember that Black Mirror episode?

It's no secret that models and celebrities in magazines are heavily edited; photo editing apps give everyday people, too, the power to change themselves into the ideal image they're shown every day. There are hundreds of photo editing apps in the App Store. Some just adjust the lighting and add filters, but others allow for more dramatic changes. The popular app FaceTune allows users to slim their bodies, adjust their facial structure and remove blemishes with the click of a button. While smoothing your skin or thinning your waist can give you a confidence boost when you post that fire solo pic, it can be toxic to your health and wellbeing.  

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), 20 million women will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life. The struggle to appear perfect on social media can lead to also anxiety and depression; in fact, NEDA lists perfectionism as a main risk factor for developing an eating disorder. The Royal Society for Public Health in the UK, too, conducted a study and found Instagram to be the most detrimental social media app on young people's’ mental health because of the seemingly perfect — but often heavily edited — images that people post.

Trust me, no one will even notice that tiny blemish on your face or the lil roll on your tummy. What they'll notice though, is a wonky window frame behind you —people love calling celebrities out for their “photoshop fails” on Instagram for a reason. Embrace your flaws and those of your friends and peers. It's 2018, and it's time for some self-love.