Perfection doesn't exist, which is easy to forget when scrolling through social media and being bombarded by 'perfect' people who all have 'perfect' bodies and live a 'perfect' life. But, more often than not, these images are the products of hours of preparation, carefully selected locations and poses, and of course - a whole lot of photo editing. These next photos serve as a great reminder to never believe everything we see on social media.
1. Strike a Pose
Sara Puhto is a 24-year-old body-positive blogger who, on her Instagram page, shares side-by-side pictures revealing how much a camera angle or a different pose can change a pic.
"I think being more transparent about falsities in photos helps you realize that the people in these seemingly 'perfect' posts don't look like that all of the time," she told Insider.
2. What Hides Beneath
Puhto shows how deceiving different postures - or even how high or low one wears their leggings - can be, and she has made it her life's work to share these 'Instagram secrets'.
"I never imagined that I would be posting my biggest insecurities online, but that's how life ended up working out and I love it so much because I love hearing how much it helps people when I share these posts!"
3. Mind the Gap
Our bodies change throughout the day, and there is absolutely no man or woman who looks 'perfect' 24/7 or only takes 'perfect' pictures.
Though 'thigh gaps' have become one of the holy grails of Instagram, brave bloggers like Puhto help us remember that the same person can have a thigh gap in one picture, and a lovely belly in the next.
4. Dessert Baby
Since we are all humans, our bodies have to digest the food we eat and so we often bloat during the day. And it's about time we no longer feel shy about it.
"I have something to tell you. I have a dessert baby! Haha!" wrote fitness blogger Emily Skye next to this photo comparison. "On the left is my belly when I'm not bloated and standing with a 'tight tummy' or what I call 'good posture.' On the right is my tummy VERY bloated after eating dessert last night! (It was SO worth it by the way.)"
5. Woke Up Like This
26-year-old Kim Britt is another awesome blogger, who uses social media to expose its inauthenticities, with hilarious side-by-side photos.
"I [belong] to the people that first need a cup of coffee before they can do anything else, so it's not a surprise that in reality, I'm not looking anything like the left photo while I drink my first cup", Britt captioned this image. "It took me an hour and a good photographer to look like the left photo, by the way."
6. Baby it's cold outside
We are always cold during winter, but most Instagramers seem to somehow be immune to the weather, as they don't flaunt any warm clothing.
"I will probably never get it, why so many girls on social media don't have pants on during the winter season", writes Britt. And we can definitely see ourselves in her right-side winter wardrobe.
7. Reality Check
Dutch blogger Rianne Meijer has more than 1 million followers on Instagram, and she uses her popularity to show how fake IG photos sometimes are, and make us all feel a bit better about just being normal.
Meijer shares hilarious selfie fails, awkward postures and photoshoots bloopers (and in our opinion, looks great on both versions).
8. Two Sides to Every Story
“When I make Instagram pictures I always take between 200 and 400 pictures. Which is insane and I wouldn't use 90% of them,” Rianne told Bored Panda.
“It always amazes me to see how different I looked in every picture. So at one point, I was laying in bed and I figured, why not post the pictures next to each other in an Instagram vs. reality post.”
9. Body Transformation
Connor Murphy is a successful 'fitness influencer' who has almost 2.5 million followers on his YouTube channel.
While most of his social media photos show him at his best, chiseled self, a couple of years ago he decided to share a "10-minute transformation" video exposing some of the secrets behind his Instagram-perfect images, such as muscle flexing, posing, and good lighting.
10. Skin Deep
"Both these images are ME. They were taken seconds apart," writes Instagram influencer Danae Mercer, captioning this side-by-side photo which reminds us again that the internet is not real, and that most women naturally have cellulite.
"The only difference is how I’m POSING, arching my body and angling it into the LIGHT. In one I’ve hidden my cellulite with the shadows, popping my bum out and squeezing my core tight for a traditional ‘insta’ pose. In the other I’m just crouching ‘normally’."
11. Sideways Facing Dog
Australian comedian Celeste Barber rose to fame thanks to her hilarious Instagram parodies, where she impersonates and makes fun of over-the-top and clichéd celebrity IG pictures.
In this photo she pokes fun at yoga influencer Jessica Tara for a snap that won her 15,000 likes. "Just keeping the neighbors entertained", wrote Barber.
12. Not a Morning Person
Barber has reached over 7 million followers with her funny posts, which not only make fun of the specific images, but at the whole 'unreal reality' culture.
“I never started out for it to be a body-positive thing or be like, ‘f**k yeah’. It was always like, this is how celebrities get out of the pools [and] I’m like no, this is how you get out of the pool,” she told The Guardian.
13. Female Empowerment
With more than 17 million followers, Instagram celebrity Alexis Ren was an obvious choice for Barber's satire, and we love this photo which she, tongue-in-cheek, captioned "Empowering // Brave".
“I call bullsh*t to rich, famous, privileged people portraying their life as accessible to everyone,” Barber explained in an interview with Runway Riot. "It’s an important message that’s often not talked about… Not only will we never look like Kourtney Kardashian or Nicki Minaj, but we will also never have access to the kind of money and, therefore, lifestyles they lead."
14. Behind the Scenes
Instagram photos are often anything but real, with the carefully selected images only showing a curated reality.
A great example is the classic image of a girl sitting on top of a wall. How do they always look so chill and comfy, striking a pose in what doesn't seem to be an even a little bit convenient sitting arrangement. Luckily, Kim Britt & co are here to solve the mystery.
15. Tree Time
Who's there, lurking in the bushes? In this hilarious side-by-side, Britt reveals what a classic Instagram pose really looks like from the side.
We know flowers photoshoots in general, and autumn leaves specifically, are always big on IG, but this makes us see them in a whole new, funny light.
It's not only people that get the 'Instagram treatment'. IG is also big on perfect-looking food images, with millions of people documenting and sharing their every meal.
However, in real life we don't normally spend 10 minutes adjusting the lighting before we eat, and our food sometimes just looks like food - not picture-perfect, but still perfectly yummy.
17. Reality Bites
Foodstagramming has also changed the way food chains and restaurants are marketing their food, with an emphasis on sharp, bright images and 'Instagramable' products.
However, in real life, their promises don't always hold. "Instagram vs my order tonight," shared one disappointed pizza shopper on Reddit.
18. Self-Date Night
Speaking of pizza... Though on Instagram, everyone seems to be eating healthy salads, vegan pastries, and brightly colored smoothie bowls, in real life most of us would usually go for some good ol' carbs when wanting to spoil ourselves.
German blogger Geraldine West shows what life is really like behind the flawless Instagram photos, pizza and unshaved legs included.
19. Hashtag Fitness
Nobody sweats on Instagram, right? Or if they do, they do it in the most photogenic way possible.
Though fitness and working out are big on Instagram, most influencers look nothing like we do when breaking a sweat - all red, and a little miserable. Lucky for us, West is again showing it like it is.
20. Posing is Everything
Here's another perfect example of the distorted reality social media might be presenting, courtesy of British influencer Lauren Tickner who captioned it: "30 seconds between each photo".
"POSTURE changes EVERYTHING!" wrote Tickner. "Posing is SO powerful: what you see of people on social media is NOT how they look 24/7 in real life!"
21. Lost in Translation
Beware of choosing your next travel destination based on Instagram photos - because on social media, nothing ever looks like real life. Not even historical buildings.
There's no doubt which image of the Vienna city hall looks more appealing, but we bet that IRL the average tourist will more likely meet its right-side version.
22. Your Carriage Awaits (?)
Likewise, whoever arrives in any iconic European destination, and expects to see the carriage like the one they saw on Instagram, might have a surprise in store.
The same is true for all other travel expectations based on Instagram clichés - from 'holding' the Leaning Tower of Pisa, crossing Abbey Road, faux-meditating and yoga posing at temples, hanging out with local kids, and so on.
23. [Un]Follow Me
One of the biggest - and, let's be honest, worst - Instagram travel cliché is the 'follow me' photo, showing a woman taking the photographer's hand and leading him to an exciting destination.
What started as a real couple's sweet photo, became a global trend that, even though has no doubt run its course, can still be seen everywhere on social media.
24. Travel Light, Travel Far
Instagram influencers seem to successfully travel around the world with one chic carry-on suitcase, and of course, always look stylish and neat even if they just stepped down from a red-eye flight.
Somehow, when when we travel we always seem to be exhausted and groggy, and we never have enough bags for all of our belonging.
25. Turning a Blind Eye
Photographer Calob Castellon's work is another great proof of the fact that we shouldn't believe everything we see on social media. Castellon shares his magical, Instagram-worthy photos - and their clever behind-the-scenes truths.
"Could we have shot at an actual window and cut my editing time by 99 percent? Yes. Would it be as fun? Probably yes too", joked the photographer.
26. Head in the Clouds
In this photo taken by Castellon, the model is lying down in what appears to be a fluffy cloud, with sunshine filtering through the clouds.
But a behind-the-scenes snap reveals that she is actually lying down in a mountain of pillow stuffing, with Castellon adding some clever lighting to create the sunlight effect.
27. Selfie or It Didn't Happen
Seeing other people take a selfie is quite an awkward experience, though seeing a bunch of people cramming into 'group-selfies' has become a common phenomenon in recent years, especially in tourist destinations and big events.
We know we may look a bit ridiculous taking them, but that won't stop us from getting that perfect selfie. And fortunately, no one has to see the behind-the-scene in the final shot.
28. True Self
With so many young people growing up in a filtered world, it's so important to be reminded that we are 'good enough' just the way we are.
"I used to edit the HECK out of my photos," wrote Olivia Callaghan next to these side-by-side selfies. "I would smooth my skin, edit out spots, brighten my eyes, slim my face YOU NAME IT I DID IT! I was so ashamed of my real appearance that I faked it. I faked my beauty, without realizing I already was beautiful."
29. Male Body Positivity Matters
It's not only women who feel under pressure to present themselves as having a 'perfect' life and a 'perfect' body on social media. While women are taught to think they should be smaller and skinnier, men are taught that they should be fit and muscular.
But for men too, many of the images bombarded at them are not even real, meaning they are not even achievable. "Instagram vs. Reality", Austin Poehls captioned this side-by-side comparison.
30. Contouring or Conjuring
Contouring has taken the Instagram makeup world by storm, but it's not such an easy task for everyone to achieve, with many of us ending up looking like we're wearing war paint instead.
And also, let's be honest, very few women can - or even want to - pull off this much makeup in real life.
31. Needed: IRL Makeup Filter
Another reason why no real person can actually achieve the perfect makeup displayed on Instagram? Every makeup look you see is almost always photo edited.
This is just another proof of the wonders that Facetune does. As one Reddit user commented: "Turns out I can actually put makeup on my face, it’s the face tune part that’s missing".
32. Candid Mommy
It's not just bodies and faces that get tune-ups on Instagram, it's also whole concepts like 'perfect parenting' or 'perfect relationships'.
With this picture, Australian TV presenter and mother-of-three, Carrie Bickmore, offers a refreshingly honest peek at the highs and lows of motherhood.
33. Puppy Parenting
Pets, and dogs and puppies in particular, have taken over Instagram, with some animals even having their own Instagram accounts.
Puppies seem like the perfect social media eye candy but, as every dog owner knows, raising them is not such an easy - or for that matter, a such a photogenic - task.
34. National Girlfriend Day
Speaking of dogs... When looking at an Instagram photo, don't forget you're only getting one part of the picture, as this hilarious photo comparison proves.
For this image, YouTube star Brennen Taylor used the hashtag #NationalGirlfriendDay. He could have fooled us.
35. Reality Bath
Wait, so you don't use flower petals and essential oils in every one of your baths? Just kidding, neither do we.
In fact, real people's bath time is a lot less luxurious and dreamy than the Instagram-worthy 'self-care sanctuary', and actually includes things like cleaning and grooming.
36. Nothing to Hide
Chessie King has become a successful Instagram influencer thanks to her an honest attitude and the unedited images she often posts to her page.
"I had just eaten the biggest Sunday roast ever, and was sending my friends funny photos of me with my trousers open, stomach hanging out, like, 'look at how sexy I look'", King told Shape magazine why she started posting unfiltered images of herself. "Then, it clicked: I should be showing this to everyone!"
37. New Car Who Dis
Can we trust anything we see on social media? Seems like the answer is no.
The new car in the background? Possibly a toy car. The airplane pillow? The guy could just be chilling at home. The Eiffel Tower next to the cute couple? It's called photoshop, you guys.
38. Knee Cleavage
Imagination knows no bounds, and it's true on Instagram as well. Check out this funny yet disturbing photo life hack, for example.
So yes, 'knee cleavage' is a thing now, what a time to be alive. Interesting fact: Justin Beiber has made this comment on a photo of wife Hailey Baldwin, who was showing off her cleavage on Instagram: "babe are those ur knees." Guess we're not the only ones confused.
39. The Sleeping Beauty
No one actually looks good sleeping, and yet, many Instagrammers like to share 'real' photos of their sleeping selves.
Only, nothing about them is real - and also, why the heck are they being photographed in bed? Maybe it's just a sign that we should all spend a little less time on Instagram, and a little more time getting some beauty sleep.
40. Make a Splash
Charlotte Szczepaniak is a French photographer who shared this hilarious image of herself photographing a model, next to the final result - which looks completely unrelated to its real origin.
She captioned the two: "Expectation VS reality: make a splash with a small puddle". This is definitely the little puddle that could.
41. Then and Now
We'll end with a modern twist on a classic: the painting on the right is The Ugly Duchess, a famous satirical portrait that was painted by artist Quentin Matsys during the Renaissance.
A possible literary influence on the painting was In Praise of Folly (1511), which satirized women who "cannot tear themselves away from their mirrors". So as we can see, not much has changed over the years (though nowadays, it would have to be women - and men).