In a world consumed by social media, it can be easy to compare yourself to the seemingly perfect lives of others, all while feeling inadequate. While your Instagram feed might be flooded with images of fit and flawless models, what you are seeing isn’t necessarily reality. Australian nutritionist and dietician Lyndi Cohen aims to stop social media comparisons my exposing the difference that editing, filters, and even angles can make to a photograph.
She posted a series of “Instagram Vs. Reality” pictures of herself online to prove her point, according to Today. The photos show the drastic difference a few small editorial changes can make to a photo.
The photos show Cohen in the same outfit and relatively same position. One image is clearly more flattering, making her appear to have a flatter stomach. She emphasized that the images girls see on social media are often carefully doctored to make a model appear skinnier and more attractive by society’s standards.
“The photo on the left is what you typically see on Instagram. The photo on the right is what you often don’t see… but I want you to see it, my body from all angles. Both bodies are just as healthy (and worthy) as one another,” she said.
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There is SO much pressure on nutritionists, dietitians and other health professionals to be thin, slim, strong, lean or have the perfect body. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I know all about it because I used to feel the insane pressure to look like the Instagram version of health. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So – to my colleagues out there doing incredible work, know this:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ You don't need the perfect body to be healthy, to teach or have major impact in someone’s life.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ You do not need to have arrived fully at your ‘destination’ (i.e. body acceptance) to help someone else. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In fact, your experience with your body will help you help your patients. It means you turn up to your job with true empathy, compassion and understanding.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It means you can lead your patient from "I hate my body, help me fix it" to… "your body is already amazing. I want to help you feel good in it".⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you are a nutritionist, dietitian or health professional – you do not need to lose weight to do your job well. You need to work on being comfortable in your skin, accepting its imperfections and finding what health means within that.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Stand for real health. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Promote self-acceptance.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Be a role model. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Look after your body because you love it, not because you hate it. And then share what you learn with your patients. Perhaps the biggest lesson you can share with them is that health is not just the food you eat, but how you feel about yourself. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This work is so important, worthy and fulfilling. Our patients need our compassion. I say we start by practising on ourselves. Images: @lucaprodigo_ph
Cohen encourages young women to put less emphasis on the outward appearance and more focus on their internal health. Instead of seeking unattainable beauty goals, it is far more profitable to seek happiness and self-acceptance. She urges girls to embrace their imperfections and stop looking at them as something to change.
“This is important to realise: People are OK to see your imperfect side. People tend to like you more when you keep it real and turn up as the real, imperfect you. When we see someone else being imperfect, it’s a relief because we realise we can just be ourselves as well,” she said.
Cohen keeps it real on her social media platforms, sharing only raw and unedited photos to her 82,500 Instagram followers. Her page is used to show recipes, healthy lifestyle tips, and exercise regimens. Rather than trying to help her viewers lose weight, she uses her platform to promote confidence and acceptance of all body types.
As a dietician, she has faced pressures to maintain a perfectly fit and thin physique. She wants to fight the stereotype that just because your profession is based on a healthy lifestyle, doesn’t mean you have to look like everyone else with the occupation.