I’m just going to smooth out this ooooone pimple. It’ll be gone in a few days anyway, so it will be a more accurate representation of what I look like! Okay, maybe a little saturation here and there, and it wouldn’t hurt to make myself look a tiny bit taller. I do look like that from some angles! While I’m at it, I might as well adjust my arms a tiny bit and smooth out the rest of my skin. Okay, done! Posting it now. Wait, I forgot to contour my nose!
Editing photos can be a dangerous game. One moment you think you’re just going to enhance the colors in the picture, and before you know it, the subject featured is unrecognizable to you. But you’ll post the pic on social media claiming it’s a selfie anyway… As editing apps and websites have become more advanced over the years and the pressure to be perfect online seems to be mounting, Instagram has become saturated with photos that are extremely fake.
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So to call out the people who aim to pass off cartoon versions of themselves online, the Instagram Reality subreddit was born. We’ve compiled some of the best posts from the community down below to serve as a reminder that you can’t trust everything you see on the internet. Be sure to upvote the pics you find most hilarious or cringe-worthy, and then let us know in the comments how you feel about the incessant photo editing on social media. And if you’re interested in viewing even more of these photos that aren’t fooling anyone, you can find Bored Panda’s last article on the same topic right here.
#1 Slenderwoman On Holiday
Image credits: Lucky-Worth
10 years ago, it might have been startling to see heavily edited photos on Instagram, but over time, they have become almost impossible to avoid. Most of the photos celebrities share have been curated to look a certain way, and even your friends who don’t have a large following online or use Instagram for their careers might be avid users of Facetune and loads of filters. Lots of followers emulate what they see shared by the Kardashians and influencers of the world, and unfortunately, that has created an endless cycle of fake photos that are begging to be called out.
The Instagram Reality subreddit was started in 2017, and it currently has 1.1 million members. It’s not surprising how popular it has become though, as there is unlimited content being shared on the app constantly that members can roast with one another. Some of the most popular topics in the subreddit are “Uncanny Valley”, “Warped Fail”, “Close Friends Only Post”, “Skin Texture? Never Heard Of It…” and “Not Instagram But…”, and they are all full of photos that are painfully obviously fake. Yet somehow, they still made it onto the internet.
#2 Snapchat Celeb In The Middle East
Image credits: heightsofsorrow
#3 Kim Kardashian Photoshopping Her Trapezius Muscle Out Of Photos
Image credits: caroline_in_thecity
As hilarious as it is to see photos that look like they have been mangled in Photoshop by a child, we can’t discuss the topic of Instagram vs. reality without addressing the elephant in the room: body dysmorphia. Obviously, if someone feels the need to contort their body beyond recognition and change all of their facial features to feel confident enough to share a photo online, they might have some self-esteem issues. I don’t necessarily see a problem with editing a photo for the sake of making the lighting look nicer or removing a pimple here or there (I’m definitely guilty of that one!). But there have to be limits.
When a person goes out of their way to share a photo that looks nothing like them, they are, albeit maybe subconsciously, saying that they wish they looked differently. If they were truly confident and loved and accepted their body and their appearance, they would feel no need to try to portray themselves differently online. It is sad to think about how many people so desperately want to be perceived as ‘beautiful’ or ‘skinny’ or whatever else the current trend is. But these insecurities rarely pop up out of nowhere. They are likely a response to societal pressure.
#4 Tri-Legged Model In The Wild
Image credits: RichelleTiffany
#5 I’m Scared She’s So Close
Image credits: SovietBatman64
Image credits: countersignals
If we did not see airbrushed and ‘perfected’ photos of celebrities and if we had no knowledge of apps like Facetune, would we still feel the desire to manipulate our bodies in photos? I’m not so sure. I remember noticing wrinkles on my face in middle school and feeling insecure about them, but I didn’t feel the need to minimize their appearance in photos. And I know for a fact that the idea that “wrinkles are bad” was not an original thought I had. It came from magazine covers, makeup advertisements and Real Housewives I had seen on TV.
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However, apps and filters can and have had a very real impact on many people’s self-esteem. One 28-year-old opened up to Vox about how she began using Facetune to minimize a few wrinkles on her forehead, and it soon snowballed into her making appointments for Botox. “If I already have an indent in my forehead [now], how bad is it going to be when I’m 60?” she wondered. Since then, she has started getting injections every nine months, has had her lips filled and her skin lasered “because it didn’t look pretty on camera”.
#7 Came Across Her Ig Today. Unreal
Image credits: mothfoxtea
#8 No Words
Image credits: urbnngun
#9 If This Were A Real Woman I Would Run Away Screaming
Image credits: nardpuncher
DC-based dermatologist Noëlle Sherber says there is a new wave of plastic surgery inspired by apps and filters. “I have a lot of millennials as part of my practice,” she told Vox. “Most of the time, they want to talk about how they appear in their edited photos. And they are looking to explore options of how to translate that into reality.” Common alterations patients ask Sherber for are fuller lips, thinner noses, brighter skin, or even enlarged eyes and changes to the proportions of their face. “Some of the changes they are making to their faces are not achievable,” she noted. “We can’t do that in real life. And if they really can’t be made to match that, they will be inherently disappointed.”
#10 I Expected The Facetune But Not The Armpittune
Image credits: alekstoro
#11 Got This Heresy On My Yt Front Page. It Hurts Me On Too Many Levels
Image credits: PankakeSlayer
#12 Found This On Pinterest For “Long Hair” Made Me Laugh
Image credits: Harlequin-mermaid
This growing trend of having unrealistic expectations due to seeing edited photos is being referred to as “Snapchat dysmorphia”. But it’s not just a beauty trend or something to mock on Reddit, it is a disturbing psychological phenomenon. Back in the day, a photo was just a photo and only professionals had access to tools like Photoshop. But today, we all have constant access to cameras and editing technology that can allow us to see fake or distorted versions of ourselves even more than we see our own reflections. “It can be argued that these apps are making us lose touch with reality because we expect to look perfectly primped and filtered in real life as well,” write doctors at Boston University School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology in a JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery article.
#13 I Don’t Even Have Words For This One
Image credits: bow_ski
#14 When Your Whole Head Is Half The Size Of Your Biceps
Image credits: Odradekflusen
#15 The Chin And Skin Texture
Image credits: yasukemudkip
Another JAMA article warns that even an unedited selfie may not be an accurate representation of how we look. Apparently, due to the way selfie cameras often distort an image slightly, our noses can appear 30% larger in these photos. So if you suddenly feel the need to get a nose job because you took one selfie that you find unflattering, please, do not rush into the plastic surgeon’s office. In 2017, 55% of facial plastic surgeons reported seeing patients who wanted procedures done that would help them look better in selfies, but the reality is that the selfies they were basing these decisions on were distorted versions of their faces in the first place. People need to understand that taking drastic, expensive measures to look better online is not the way to fix their body dysmorphia or self-esteem issues. In fact, it will likely only exacerbate the problem.
#16 You Think She Might Look A Little Different Irl?
Image credits: yoshiwot42
#17 New Picture vs. Picture From 2020
Image credits: Nahareeli
#18 She’s From Finland And Gets Upset When People Claim That She Edits Her Pics
Image credits: gunsunflower
I can’t help but feel sympathy for the people out there who have allowed Instagram photos to permeate their brains and negatively affect their self-esteem, but it’s time that we stop falling for the tricks of the influencers and Kardashians of the world. Their photos are heavily edited, so we cannot expect to look like them. Kim Kardashian probably doesn’t even look like her photos, and she is complicit in perpetuating unrealistic and toxic beauty standards. We are well aware of the fact that if a photo looks suspiciously perfect, it has probably been tampered with, and if you can actually tell that it’s been edited, there has probably been a lot done to it. If you’re tired of seeing photos that look way too airbrushed or perfect, unfollow the accounts that are giving you grief! Life is way too short to spend time obsessing over having perfect selfies (that mean nothing in real life). Purge your feed of anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself, and start embracing what you really look like in photos and in person.
#19 This Is Getting Ridiculous – 63 Year Old With 22 Year Old Son – Featuring 70 Year Old Hand
Image credits: BlackOpz
#20 Never Heard Of Skin Texture
Image credits: KirkDuyt
#21 Girl What In The…
Image credits: dismalcosmictomb
Another unsettling impact of these overly edited photos is that many of the women posting them end up looking eerily similar. They distort their faces to look like the ‘beautiful’ influencers they follow, and over time, they all start looking the same. Then these women, and many others, bring these photos into plastic surgeons’ offices, and they permanently transform into this “Instagram face” that was never even real to begin with. And as Dr. Renee Engeln told The Huffington Post, “We don’t all look young and we don’t all have full lips and smooth skin, and when you see this kind of uniformity, it’s a real denial of human physical features. I think that’s ugly no matter what. That kind of denial hurts people. It makes them feel erased, and for women in particular, it makes them spend God knows how much time trying and trying to reach that look that they may be genetically unable to reach.”
#22 I Like Her But I Hate This
Image credits: Summer_Starr
#23 Spaghetti Arms
Image credits: tajong
#24 Red Carpet vs. Instagram
Image credits: dabombdotmom
But social media does not have to be all bad, Dr. Engeln says. “One of the good things social media does is allow people to seek out feeds that do represent more diversity. So you don’t have to have a feed where everyone’s face looks the same. You can opt out of that. I think that’s the promise. Social media is democratizing in some ways. You’re not just letting fashion magazines dictate what faces we see. I think that’s really great.” So as hard as it may be to post an unedited photo or remind yourself that we really don’t know what most influencers look like in person, remember that the internet is not reality. No matter how hard people may try to convince you, and themselves, that it is.
#25 This Girl Keeps Popping Up On My Snapchat Frontpage And I‘Ve Had Dudes Send Her To Me Like „dream Girl“… Boi, How Can You Believe This Sh*?
Image credits: throwthatshiawayy
#26 Found This Photo On The Internet – It’s A Very Unusually Small Giraffe
#27 This Album Cover Never Sat Right With Me
Image credits: ahkitty
We hope you’re getting a kick out of these ridiculously edited photos. I’m sure none of you pandas out there would ever post a photo that deserves a spot on this list, but I’d still like to remind you that less is more when it comes to editing. Be sure to keep upvoting the photos that you want to call the Instagram vs. Reality police on, and let us know in the comments how you feel about apps like Facetune. Then if you’d like to see even more of these hilarious photo editing fails, you can find our last article on the Instagram Reality subreddit right here.
#28 Lol We Wish
Image credits: shaebaebae25
#29 For The Love Of God Please Let This Be A Joke
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#31 The Persistence Of Memory By Salvador Dali, 1934
Image credits: ScaldingTea
#32 Why Have A ‘Plus Size’ Section Of Your Brand If You Are Going To Photoshop The Model Anyways?
Image credits: giugix
#33 This Woman Edits Herself To Look 10 Years Younger… Disturbing To Think Who Her Fans Are
Image credits: MichaelaKay9923
#34 Saw On Tiktok… That’s Wild It Must Be A Full Body Filter??
Image credits: phoebe-buffey
#35 The White One’s Shoulder Is A Bit Off And Blue Her Face Is A Little Mangled. But The One In The Middle Is Obviously A Natural. /S
Image credits: Stign
#36 Her Skin Looks So Much Smoother On Instagram
Image credits: Adventurous_Cash_356
#37 Found This Random Ig Model And I’m Genuinely Terrified
Image credits: Crazy_Slice
#38 I Saw This And Thought Y’all Would Like It Of One Of Our Faves
Image credits: teddyisagrizzlybear
#39 Insta vs. Reality
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#40 Yeah Sure…
Image credits: K123de
#41 They Photoshopped The Mannequin
Image credits: MsIndapamide
#42 When They Forget The Reflection ?
Image credits: missminimystery
#43 Thanks For Asking, We Are A Naturally Poreless Couple
Image credits: oaoao
#44 Her Head Is Just Way Too Small
Image credits: Arias-P
#45 I Can’t Believe Some Ladies Think His Body Is Real Lol
Image credits: JaidaEssence
#46 I Just….
Image credits: LexTheSouthern
#47 I’m Sorry, What???
Image credits: madgraffics
#48 Local “Businessman” That Learned About Facetune
Image credits: inc0mpl_te
#49 This Pro Mua Is One Smooth Criminal
Image credits: Th1cc4chu
#50 Long Eyes
Image credits: triclaptyrine
#51 Smoothed Skin, Thinned Her Nose And Face Shape Looks A Bit Different
Image credits: wavesocean13
#52 Instagram vs. Reality
Image credits: EsteeLayla
#53 A Guy From My Hometown, Bet You Wont Be Able To Guess Which Photo Is The Tagged One
Image credits: CardAdministrative21
#54 Is Not Just The Waist, But The Face Too
Image credits: josebaezmedina
#55 Same Picture Posted By Each Sibling On Their Account
Image credits: chaic
#56 Looks Almost The Same Doesn’t It? Perfect Hourglass?
Image credits: IloveLewisHamilton
#57 Ig vs. Paparazzi
Image credits: shmemmy
#58 Friendly Reminder To Stop Comparing Yourself To An Illusion. Nobody Looks Like This!
Image credits: Vogelina
#59 The Difference Of What Gets Put On Ig And Real Life
Image credits: IloveLewisHamilton
#60 Facetune Extravaganza
Image credits: mushylambs
#61 Daily Reminder To Stop Comparing Yourself To People That Don’t Look Anything Like What They Post
Image credits: Educational_Pause_64
Image credits: Odradekflusen
#63 Spotted In The Wild. Second Photo Is Tagged, Tagged Never Lies
Image credits: Halfwaydead425
#64 Lawyer — Billboard Picture V Reality
Image credits: -Lord_Q-
#65 An Example Of How Fillers Look Online vs. Real Life
Image credits: nutella435
#66 Fitness Influencer Posted vs. Tagged
Image credits: Constant_Audience842
#67 This Local Influencer Insists On Only ‘Lightly’ Editing Her Instagram Pictures
Image credits: SwissMercyMain
#68 This Photo Is Giving Me Uncanny Valley Vibes But I Can’t Put My Finger On It
Image credits: Pizzacanzone
#69 Actress From An Old Cw Show…hair Doesn’t Work Like That
Image credits: thatbetchkitana
#70 Oppsie. Little Filter Glitch!
Image credits: Bratney-Jo
#71 My Neighbours Added Me On Facebook As If I Don’t Know What They Actually Look Like