5 Ways To Tell If The Bodies You See On Instagram Are Fake

In the world of Instagram, it’s incredibly scary to see what people think is attractive. Social media has taken magazine and regular media editing and warped it even more, so now it may seem like everyone you know looks like Megan Fox or Kim Kardashian—perfect curves, teeny waists, striking features, and some light plastic surgery. But don’t worry, guys: pretty much everyone you see on Instagram is full of sh*t. Thankfully, most people who post like this on social media do not know what the f*ck they are doing, even when they should def have the budget to hire a decent photo editor (looking at you, Kylie. One billion dollars and not one person knows where your waist should be?). Especially since most of us are still staying home, it might seem like all you do is look at other people’s photos on Instagram, and if you’re not careful, this can get real toxic real quick. To save you from the B.S., I’m here to give you a few quick, easy tips to figure out whether someone on Instagram is misleading you.

1. Poses

I don’t really know who Georgie Clark is (a reality star, says Google?) but you should follow her immediately. She started posting her thirst trap photos with a twist, throwing in a real picture that isn’t perfectly posed to show you how important knowing your angles can be. It’s really cool to see because this is even before Facetune. Just knowing how to show your body at the right poses (and having proper lighting, but we’ll get there) can make you look completely different.

In the photo on the right, you can tell she’s fit, but has a super normal straight waist and minimal ab definition. According to Georgie’s post, if you see someone stretching out their torso, with a hip out, and clearly sucking in (spoiler: it’s all of them), IT IS STRATEGICALLY POSED and not this person’s body IRL. That’s also true if you see underwear or bathing suit bottoms over the hips—it’s a super flattering silhouette, but they probably don’t look like this all the time. I have zero (0) issues with posing strategically in photos and wearing flattering outfits. In fact, I think that’s pretty necessary to take your most flattering pics; just ask any pro photographer. But just know, this is an art that people spend a lot of time perfecting and it’s not what they look like 24/7.

2. Ribs/Waist

View this post on Instagram

Mad hot

A post shared by Sarah (@sarahfuckingsnyder) on

I don’t know who this chick is either (but apparently 1.8 million people do? Who are you people?) but after seeing this photo, I thought one thing immediately: Who TF does she think she’s kidding with this v v v fake Facetune waist job? Apparently, quite a few people. 175k at time of posting. This is the kind of sh*t I have a problem with. It’s not just posing your real body; it’s taking out body parts to fake what you look like. Thus creating the toxic AF wormhole we’re in as a society, especially for women. Sigh.

So, how do we know this photo is Facetuned (badly) and isn’t just well-angled, like Georgie’s? Take a look at Sarah’s stomach. Her sides are scooped out (and blurry BTW). Her ribs are smushed. This is anatomically incorrect. And how do we know this isn’t just her body? Well, here’s an easy little trick. Your bellybutton is actually level with your hip bones, so it basically sits at the widest part of your torso. The smallest part of your waist is actually right under the rib cage. Here’s the big mistake people make when they try to give themselves super cinched waists: they put the smallest part of their waist too close to their bellybutton instead. It gives you more of an hourglass figure, but unless you’re wearing a few pairs of Spanx, it’s just not possible. You can fake it by putting high-waisted stuff up on your hips (see above) but as we can see in this photo, Sarah’s waist indents are both too low and NOT at the bikini bottoms like Georgie’s is. Also, her waist is the same size as her head. Not possible without a corset because of, you know, organs. Why do influencers want to pretend they don’t have organs?

Here’s a throwback photo of Chrissy Teigen, for an example:

View this post on Instagram

the hell is this hair (2011)

A post shared by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) on

This is her real stomach. You can tell because the smallest part of her stomach is under the ribs, while her bellybutton is at the widest part where her hipbones are. See how much higher up her waist indents are than Sarah’s? Even check out the above photo of Georgie Clark. In BOTH photos, even the posed one, her bellybutton lines up with her hipbones. Sarah tried to sidestep this by removing her hip bones entirely, but you guys are too smart for that BS now.

3. Legs

View this post on Instagram

a ray of fucking sunshine

A post shared by Kylie 🤍 (@kyliejenner) on

My rule with most celeb or influencer photos is that, if something looks off, it’s probably because it is. Take, for example, the giant leg craze of last year (simpler times, truly). We did a whole article on celeb-fave app Spring that gave everyone very scary Jack Skellington legs, but there are always a few ways to tell it’s being used. 1) The person looks like Jack Skellington, or this lovely 9-foot-tall Kylie monster, featured above. 2) Their feet are ENORMOUS from the stretching (LOL). 3) The background is stretched along with them (Kylie is on a boat, so it’s harder to tell, but check for it anyway). And 4) if all else fails, and you REALLY NEED TO KNOW whether this photo is real or fake, you can always bust out some anatomy skills and see if the person is disproportionately too tall.

4. Lighting

These videos from Georgie are everything. We already talked about how important posing is, but here’s another video that shows the importance of good lighting! It’s all an illusion, guys. Everyone has fat, cellulite, and rolls no matter how thin or fit you are—it just is what it is. So how can you tell if lighting is hiding imperfections? Well, pay attention to where the sun and shadows are. If the shadows are soft rather than harsh, if the person is outside, or if it’s golden hour, chances are it’s just good lighting that’s making them appear so flawless. (You can read more about lighting here.) But this is why you don’t look like a supermodel under the fluorescent lights in your bathroom when you’re getting ready for the day. Because Georgie is a badass, here is another amazing photo of her in harsh lighting, with cellulite and stretch marks, not sucking in her stomach. Be nicer to yourself.

View this post on Instagram

It’s taken me a while to get here but Reality vs Reality ☺️ I posted a picture of my stretch marks a few days and YES I was sucking in (it’s like I can’t stop myself sometimes because my body’s been under so much scrutiny as a female for years!) I’m trying to unlearn this now as sometimes I do it without realising… how sad is that… that women can be doing normal everyday things and be uncomfortably sucking in all day because of the scrutiny her body has been put under?! Anyway, under this picture of my stretch-marks and me sucking in… A girl commented “How can I get a flat stomach like you?” I quickly replied and said “I’m sucking in to the point I can’t even breath 😂 “ Which then so many of you gorgeous people said… “We want to see the real shot then!” With all of your encouragement, kind words and amazing messages (even sharing my content) has really given me the confidence to finally post just my reality 😍 it’s a liberating place to be at and you’re all the people who’ve helped me get here. So THANK YOU, I don’t deserve you all but I’m bloody glad I have you all supporting me. Even if you can relate to just one of my posts or one caption has helped you then it’s worth it for me. 💕 #selflove #normalisenormalbodies

A post shared by Georgie Clarke (@georgie.clarke) on

5. Outfit

View this post on Instagram

just bringing a bit of reality to your Saturday morning workout sesh 🔥💪🏼 ⠀ ⠀ Do you find yourself thinking one of these photos is “healthier” than other? Why is that?⠀ ⠀ I have known my body for decades. I have known that dieting and exercising towards this “ideal” body shape has lead to unhappiness and toxic cycles of binging. ⠀ ⠀ And so I know now that my body is meant to look this way. We are in homeostasis. We are happy. ⠀ ⠀ You know your body and you know best . You have no obligations to let the social misconceptions of others change who you are . ⠀ ⠀ We are absolutely enough. ⠀ ⠀ @gymshark #gifted ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #bodyacceptance #gymsharkwomen #gymshark #workoutoutfit #workoutclothes #matchingset #bikeshorts #backrolls #bighips #bodyneutrality #idealbody #antidiet #antidietculture #midsize #allbodiesaregoodbodies #effyourbeautystandards

A post shared by BODY ACCEPTANCE | Christine🦋 (@christinelarainee) on

Christine is another body-positive model that I follow, and you totally should, too. This picture shows how choosing clothing that fits well and hits you in the right spots can make a huge difference. Take the first pic of Georgie—she looks way smaller because her underwear is up on her hip bones, cinching her waist further. Here, Christine shows us the difference something as simple as pulling your pants up to your waist can make. You’ll probably notice all the celebs and influencers hike their pants high up on their hip bones for this same effect, too.

There are things on Instagram that I find really toxic, like creating a new body with Facetune. And there are photography tricks that I think are fine, because it’s at least your body, just showcased in a very specific way. But the bottom line is that none of these things are reality or what these people look like on the daily.

I hope this has been helpful and made you feel better about the content that’s being shoved down your throat. No matter how thin or perfect celebrities seem in photos, I promise you that it’s 99% bullsh*t—we didn’t even get into all the plastic surgery, makeup, hair stylists, and body makeup (yes, body makeup) that celebs also use!

What are little tricks and giveaways that tell you a photo isn’t real life? Do you compare yourself to the models, celebrities, and influencers you see on Instagram? Did you know how much goes into taking the “perfect” photo? How do you feel about the difference between posing vs. completely giving yourself a new waist via Facetune? LMK!

Image: Meital Anlen / Unsplash