Most people analyze every perceived flaw in their appearance before posting to social media. The pressure to look perfect is so intense, it’s no wonder we use Photoshop, filters and FaceTune. But images of perfection aren’t usually what they seem, and celebrities such as Demi Lovato are working to chip away at these unrealistic standards by posting unedited photos, cellulite and all.
The actress recently shared an unedited photo of herself in a bikini to her 74.2 million Instagram followers. In the post, Lovato says she has struggled with body image and dieting in the past, but wants to let go of her insecurities and to accept herself as she is. She writes that she no longer wants to cater to other people’s standards of beauty. Instead, she says she hopes to embrace her most authentic self — not that it’s always easy — in hopes of inspiring others to accept and be grateful for their own natural bodies.
“This is my biggest fear. A photo of me in a bikini unedited. And guess what, it’s CELLULIT!!!!” Lovato wrote in the Instagram post.
Even though between 80 and 90 percent of women will likely experience cellulite, according to Medical News Today, it’s still considered a flaw many people spend countless hours and dollars trying to hide.
“Just so everyone’s clear,” writes Lovato, “I’m not stoked on my appearance BUT I am appreciative of it and sometimes that’s the best I can do.” While being body positive all the time might not be attainable (we’re only human), body acceptance can be more so. Learning to love and embrace our bodies is an imperfect journey, one that varies for every single person. As long as we’re trying and learning — that’s what’s important.
The unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of photos that celebrities post on social media are edited to remove the appearance of perfectly normal cellulite, stretch marks, acne, asymmetry, etc. When these edited images of celebs are presented as real life, they convince viewers that such standards of beauty are possible to reach without a computer program or smartphone app.
Lovato isn’t the only one who’s spoken out on the issue of body acceptance.
Chrissy Teigen has famously shared pictures of her cellulite and post-pregnancy stretch marks, making light of what others might view as fatal flaws for an internationally celebrated swimsuit model.
"People are so worried and so self-conscious of [stretch marks], but I've never seen a woman without them," she says in a 2018 interview with Refinery29. "I've worked with every supermodel in the world. I'm lucky to know that the most incredibly beautiful women all have stretch marks and all have the butt dimples. It really is our common bond."
In fact, between 50 and 90 percent of pregnant women get stretch marks during or after birth, states Medical News Today. Growing quickly during puberty can also lead to stretch marks, which is totally normal.
Every time women like Chrissy Teigen and Demi Lovato show an honest reflection of themselves, they chip away at the facade of perfection and normalize the “flaws” we all have. Because of their massive followings on social media, these glimpses into celebrities' unedited realities can make a real and lasting impact on how society interprets unrealistic beauty standards.
Others, such as Ashley Graham, Iskra Lawrence, Hilary Duff, and Kelly Rowland have shared unedited photos of themselves embracing their bodies just as they are.
Everyone can relate to Lovato when she stated, “I’m just literally sooooo tired of being ashamed of my body,” in her unedited Instagram photo. In fact, in the last few days, Lovato has sparked a social media movement. People on Instagram have been sharing their own photos. After thanking Lovato for posting a photo of her cellulite to Instagram, user fuckniglonely wrote, “This is me at the beach last week, i posted this picture on my personal ig but i felt afraid of what people would say about my body but who cares about it? It’s my body and i’m the only person that should say something about it. i have to love myself the way i’m [sic].”
Another Instagram user, Lovatolight, wrote, “Who I really am. Stretch marks and cellulite in that body that always held everything. Thank you for always inspiring me, i love you so much @ddlovato.”
The truth is that learning to accept, celebrate, and have gratitude for your natural body is a difficult journey. Self-love is hard to practice after years, or decades, of exposure to messages and images that teach the contrary. However, every time one person shares their natural beauty on social media, it inspires others to do the same, and brings us closer to a society that abandons body shaming altogether.