Fitness influencer Anna Victoria used to only post “perfectly posed” photos of herself on Instagram, with her stomach sucked in and muscles popping. But she realized that it could be negatively impacting her followers.
Victoria, 29, came to realize that she wasn’t accurately depicting her life.
“Through sharing my own posed photos over the last few years, I noticed a trend of young girls and women of all ages leaving a variety of comments from ‘#goals’ to ‘I hope I can one day look like that,’ to ‘I will never look like that.’ It began to weigh on me,” she wrote in an essay for Today.
Victoria laments that as much as she loves and relies on social media, it “tends to remove the human component” as people try to make their lives look perfect.
“When young girls and women of all ages see countless pictures of seemingly flawless women, it can seem like these beautiful women are in the majority,” she said. “This leads these normal, everyday women to feel like there’s something wrong with them. Why can’t I look like that? Why am I eating so healthy, working so hard in the gym, yet my body doesn’t look like that?”
Thinking about these issues led Victoria to post an honest photo in January 2016 of the belly rolls she has when sitting down. The Instagram post immediately went viral and she received an “overwhelming amount of support.”
“I could tell this was something women clearly needed: to know that they don’t have to live up to the unrealistic expectations of never showing a bad angle, cellulite, stretch marks or belly rolls,” she wrote.
Victoria has since shared several more “normal” photos, from ones of her bloated stomach after a big meal to her “real life booty,” and wrote that it clearly makes a difference.
“I received a variety of comments, from women thanking me for showing it’s OK to be human, to others sharing that they’ve struggled with body dysmorphia and eating disorders because of all the perfect images they constantly see online, and that my photo saved them,” she said. “If all I have to do to help so many overcome such serious internal battles is to share a photo of myself sitting with a few belly rolls, it’s the least I can do.”
Victoria said her goal is for women to “feel confident in themselves.”
“I want women to love themselves and appreciate themselves from all angles because a bad angle doesn’t take away from our worth or our beauty,” she said.