Scroll through your Instagram feed, and you’re sure to find a “transformation” photo or two. But body positive bloggers, like Milly Smith, are putting their own subversive spin on the side-by-side photo. From far away, these bloggers’ posts look like any old before-and-after shot, but a closer look reveals that what they’re doing is totally different. Smith—and a handful of other body positivity advocates—are taking pictures minutes after each other to prove that pictures on Instagram aren’t always what they seem.
In a recent post, Smith reveals just how flattering tights really are. She also sends the message that what you see on social media is often perfectly staged. Smith took a picture of herself wearing tights hiked up to her waist. In it, she’s flexing her abs, holding her shoulders back, and looking off to the side. She then took another picture. In this one, the waistband of her tights is positioned much lower—on her hips below her abdomen. And instead of posing, she’s adopted more relaxed posture. The difference between her silhouette in both photos might make you do a double take, but Smith assures the photos were taken back to back.
“Same girl, same day, same time,” Smith wrote in the caption. “Not a before and after. Not a weight loss transformation. Not a diet company promotion.” The blogger, who Instagrams under the handle selfloveclubb, goes on to point out that—despite the stark difference between photos—neither is more beautiful in her mind. “I am comfortable with my body in both,” she said. “Neither is more or less worthy. Neither makes me more or less of a human being. Neither invites degrading comments, and neither invites sleazy words.”
What the photos do invite, though, is important conversations about how damaging the aspirational perfection of social media can be—where many users set out to project the best versions of themselves at all times. “We are so blinded to what a real unposed body looks like and blinded to what beauty is that people would find me less attractive within a 5-second pose switch,” Smith wrote. “How insanely ridiculous is that!?…I love taking these, it helps my mind so much with body dysmorphia and helps me rationalize my negative thoughts. Don’t compare, just live for you. There is no one on this planet who’s like you and that’s pretty damn amazing, don’t ya think? The world doesn’t need another copy—it needs you.”
Thank you, Milly Smith, for sharing these images and thoughts with the world. We could all use a little more self-love, so we’re happy to see it.
See Smith’s Instagram post below:
Also: Ashley Graham: “Body Positivity Is Not Just a Trend” (from Glamour)