The Great Instagram Scam: Body Positivity or Body Shaming?

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Every so often, I get a bee in my bonnet about something. It is usually quite inconsequential, but it seriously affects me. I have come to realise that my blog is the best platform to pen my honest thoughts and deal with my feelings. Many people won’t agree with me, and few may read this post, but if I find a single kindred spirit who shares my sentiments, then I have succeeded.

Yesterday, while scrolling through Instagram (the death knell of mental health!), I came across a ‘famous influencer’ with a massive following (in terms of numbers), through a shoutout given by another blogger. Without naming names, I’ll give you a background of what I saw. Her claim to fame is that she is a ‘feminist’ and she advocates ‘body positivity’. One of her posts had me analysing this Instagram scam- when she advocates body positivity with her perfect body, it actually amounts to body shaming others who feel inadequate in comparison.

BODY POSITIVITY OR BODY SHAMING?

Wikipedia defines ‘body positivity’ as a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, while challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body.”

Body shaming on the other hand is when a person is harassed for being overweight/underweight or derided for any aspect of their physical appearance.

The influencer I refer to here, had posted a picture of herself naked with the exception of bikini bottoms and a couple of fruits strategically covering her chest. The caption, completely at odds with the picture, talks about why she prefers spreading the message of feminism and body positivity over tackling more serious social ills. I agree with her caption, as I believe people have the right to advocate whatever causes they want, without stepping away from their larger beliefs. However, there are many things I disliked about her post (and those of countless similar ‘influencers’):

  1. The naked picture was clearly a ploy for grabbing eyeballs. Of the 5000 odd likes she had received, perhaps only 5-10% were from people that read and agreed with her caption.
  2. She posed with her legs slightly apart and her hips jutting out at the back, which gives the illusion of a more slender body than one actually has. I know this because I have attempted the same, occasionally! Which means that the picture wasn’t a true representation of the girl’s body.
  3. An eye-catching location and good camera-work helped in making this picture its best possible version.
  4. In any case, she is young and fit and quite different from the average Indian woman.

Far from the claim of feeling happy about myself after looking at her picture, I only felt bad about my own 30-something-year old mother’s body. Later, I realised that she may not be comfortable in her own skin if she resorts to aforementioned posing and photography skills.

I know what you’re thinking- I’m just jealous and insecure. Of course, I am! Before looking at her picture, I was absolutely fine with my body, which is the real test of body positivity. Looking at her naked confidence made me feel completely inadequate. It had me questioning why I wanted to write/blog/compete in this online space! This incident is a prime example of why Instagram is dangerous for the state of one’s mental health.

I don’t mean to say that only unfit people have the right to advocate body positivity. As influencers, we can inspire people to be confident in their own skin without showing off our own, which necessarily leads to unreal comparisons. No one knows what the person is actually like behind the camera! How can you compare yourself to a picture?

If you really want to spread the message of body positivity, do it through word and deed instead of an edited and perhaps fake photograph.

THE INSTAGRAM SCAM:

I have been promoting my writing on Instagram for about 18 months, and have accumulated only a minuscule following in that time. Every time I see a photo of this kind, here’s the thought process that goes through my mind. I first think- this person has a large following, even though she’s not saying anything new or being extra creative. Next, I conclude that people attract numbers by shedding their clothes. Third, I consider being provocative in order to attract more followers. That’s when sense finally hits me. I am not provocative and I will not resort to sensationalism to put my work out. I am a writer, and I will continue to write what I feel and what makes sense to me. Whatever happens, I know that my writings will outlast the forever-changing trends on Instagram.

As a confident, well-educated writer, if I can feel insecure looking at these so-called ‘influencers’ dictate false terms of ‘body-positivity’, then what must hordes of other women feel?

We need to change this. We need to beat down this great Instagram scam. That girl feels the only way she reaches a wider audience is by showing off her body. Let us collectively enable a responsible online environment where one’s intellect and talent speak louder than one’s physical appearance. Can we do that, please?

DISCLAIMER: These are my personal thoughts and must not be attributed to anyone else. You may disagree with me and I respect that. Please be respectful of my opinion too.

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This blog is a part of the #LetsBlogWithPri Campaign hosted by Prisha Lalwani from www.mummasaurus.com. I would like to thank Mahati Ramya Adivishnu for introducing me in the blog train. You can read her blog here. I would like to introduce Sharvari Paivaidya Mehan. You can read her blog here.

*This is not a sponsored post.

** If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy reading my e-book “Tales From My Travel Treasury: An Alliterative Anthologywhich can be downloaded for FREE from here.

***Copyright in content belongs to nooranandchawla and cannot be republished or repurposed without permission from the author. Infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.

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80 Thoughts

  1. Amazing post Noor and so well-written. I usually don’t read my blog mail alerts but when I see your name I do click and try not to miss because you always have some great points to make.

    Well here too, you echo my thoughts. Body Positivity, feminism, gender neutrality, etc – all these are wrongly dealt on Instagram. These are the most misunderstood terms and most who advocate these, don’t even know what exactly these terms entail. Perhaps, a mere Google search can help them but who cares, as long as such posts are fetching them the desired number of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ ! So I do agree that it’s a scam of sorts where influencers have no idea what they are influencing about. But then not all are same. There are some sensible ones too whom I personally look up to for inspiration and motivation.

    Talking about the naked images to attract audience and engagement, I wouldn’t really comment on it. That’s one’s personal choice, I believe. I myself don’t like it but I wouldn’t really question anyone who does if they do it out of choice

    1. Thanks Charu! I’m so glad you enjoy my posts and echo my thoughts to a certain degree 🙂
      I agree, going naked on Instagram is a personal choice and there is nothing wrong with that- what’s wrong is when it is advocated as a means of body positivity, which it can never be- since every body is different 😃

  2. I understand your thought process but social media is not in our hands but in the hands of people who think before they post something. This medium can be used both to motivate people with positive thoughts and depress people with negative thoughts. I think, we all should learn filtering out bad info from our feeds. Tough task though.

  3. What a lovely post, Noor!! I have often had the same thoughts about the influencers on Instagram. They do not add any value most of the times and have a large number of influencers, many times ensuring the others are doubting themselves. The kind of pics one posts can be a personal choice but there are people who like such posts. Glad there are some sensible posts like yours too which are a treat to read!! 🙂

  4. Great post Noor, being a Mental Health Awareness promoter I could resonate with your thoughts and my last few blogs stressed on social media usage and how it can take a toll on one’s mental health because I could see how this whole influencer culture creates an unwarranted pressure on other users.
    We will find many such people portraying an image of something which they themselves don’t understand 😀
    Keep spreading such great experiences.👍

  5. Noor, I love how you write on topics that are on people’s mind but they hold back from discussing it. You have been brave enough to call out Instagram for what people are making it out to be. As people out there on Social Media (i detest the term Influencer) it is our responsibility to put out the truth, and we must. Let’e do that, I am with you.

  6. You spoke my heart here Noor. I agree with you on how the body positivity is a talk for people who are fit themselves, more than spreading any positivity, it spread a lot of negativity in terms of comparsion. And how can we really compare ourselves with a picture which is probably fake or edited?
    But sadly that’s is currently a reality of social media and Instagram per se, being a photo sharing platform. I too feel that few picture are uploaded just for Catching eyeballs or gaining few more followers.

  7. It’s heart breaking to see these girls setting such unrealistic image of woman. Being fashionable is a different thing but you just can’t set standards how a woman should look. What happened to body type theory?

  8. A real person putting their real size out there does not affect me but yes it’s so easy to edit these days that you have no clue how they really look. So don’t let anything on the internet upset you.. Great post dear.

  9. Noor, I read your whole post and I really feel it’s just the way she use to increase her followers in either way. She is not spreading a true msg but her naked pic. Truly this should be stopped

    1. Thank you for seeing my point of view Gurjeet. I have nothing against her showing her naked body- it’s her choice, but I am against it being advocated for body positivity when it is not doing that at all!
      Let’s hope things change 🤞

  10. So well written your thoughts. Social media has gone to different level all together I feel. It’s upto us how much to take it from it.

  11. Body shaming is just not cool. We live in a society where we are often judged by people whose opinion doesn’t really matter. I feel by writing about this you have done a remarkable job of making people aware that it’s not okay to comment on someone’s weight, appearance etc.

  12. I appreciate your thoughts and opinion on this matter, but would just like to mention that social media is not exactly the truth. It’s just a platform where “jo dikhta hai, Wahi bikta hai”

    So I don’t get influenced, upset or even happy or excited by any comments or posts there.

  13. I totally agree that social media is free to share thoughts but it’s we who should understand the line between where to stop and speak!! Very well written post!!

  14. Great job noor your writing has the power of expressing the words where people take a step back… Wonderful post…

  15. I can’t agree with you on this any more. I had very similar thoughts when a very popular travel blogger posted pictures showing her body flaws. And honestly there were hardly real pictures, like a single grey hair in her bikin clad picture.. rather the motive of spreading awareness looked flawed! It was more to grab attention on a highly talked about issue than to spread real awareness. Kudos to you for voicing your opinion, it was much needed to be said loud and clear. Amazing write up!

  16. I miss the days when the content was not curated on instagram..i have seen similar bloggers post nakes semi naked illusion pics just to grab the eyeballs abd their caption is totally different. I agree body positivity can be shown without the skin show too….keep writing Noor. Pen is mightier than sword

  17. I think there is a very thin line between these two aspects. One should draw a clear line in their mind beyond any fantasy expectations. Great post with honest points. Well Done N

  18. You spoke out my heart noor .. There are days when i was felt awkward to share my pics as i am not slim trim fit but not now .. Body shaming is all over social media these days ..

  19. I totally agree with you! I was a fat kid when I hit puberty and probably the only girl in my class who was made to feel unwanted, unattractive and “fat”! It made me skip my meals, it made me cry, it broke my heart! Today, I am healthy, I have a normal weight but still a bit of chub on my stomach makes me feel insecure! And seeing such things online, adds ghee to the aag of insecurity!

  20. I feel body positivity or body shaming issues people on instagram bring up just to reach a good no. Of audience, they actually have no motive to bring out the change, just get a little limelight of how wonderful her thoughts are..

  21. Instagram is a very powerful tool and it is accessible to everyone these days just like facebook. thus having a bit of moral responsibility towards what we post as influencer is of primary need.

  22. A agree with you here Noor! Not only Instagram but other such social media platforms are filled with such people. But I am glad that there are people like you too! 🙂

  23. Instagram is the most over rated and strangely fake social media platform.Very well written and I agree. Let’s be happy

  24. A thought provoking post Noor, glad that I read it as from the snippet I was taking it to a different tangent all together. Social Media is a BIG Facade I must say, no one likes to see, read, like, or comment on truth, It has become the famous TV opera of sorts, where only two facets work – Abusive or Abused.
    Abusive (I call them Feminazi) who call others names, shout out as fake or what ever possible in the name of Women Welfare AKA Empowered women of today.
    Abused, you act, react, and always stay a cry baby.

    Body shaming, Pride movement, Equality, Equal parenting I can guarantee even if 5% of those who using these words know what does they actually mean.
    All, we do is just FOLLOW a blind trend. Its time to stop, introspect and react.

    1. Everyone is just running behind getting the perfect body or picture on social media. Now a days, i have been Sharing majorily RAW pictures which show the real me rather than showing what I am not in real life.

  25. I have one simple theory , just enjoy what u see on Instagram , don’t imitate and remain prudent to differentiate between real and fake .

  26. That’s a very thought provoking post and so true. This is something which I felt too and feel sad to see people following anything or everything to get popular. It is a sad reality of social media.

  27. It breaks my heart when people make fun of body positivity this way and I am so proud of you for choosing to write about it

  28. Totally agree with your thoughts, Noor. I’ve never understood why posing naked is important for talking about body positivity. It draws unnatural reactions which aren’t even remotely related to any cause as such. Too much fakeness since extreme care is taken to get the perfect shot and then talking that it isn’t important. 🙄

  29. Hey Noor I read your post and guess what I read it twice.. I liked it so much… and reading it I got so much motivated… to do something for myself .. and ignore people on social media…as everything is not real.

  30. Oh yeah I too see many women just wearing 2 piece to show body positivity but in back of the mind they are looking for better likes and that’s what makes me angry.

  31. Love love love your writings Noor. Agree that Instagram is all about beauty and fake edited photos. Only good-looking people or gorgeous pictures get Instagram audience and attention. Though I am happy to find few honest instagrammers.

    1. Yes the pleasure is greater is knowing that our audience is genuine and only with us because they like our work 😊
      Thank you so much Kinshoo.. I’m so glad you enjoy them

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