In today's social media-driven world, it's common for people to take selfies and post them online for others to see. While this can be a fun and lighthearted way to share experiences and memories with others, it can also contribute to negative body image and reinforce harmful diet culture. One factor that plays a significant role in how we perceive ourselves and others in photos is the camera angle.
Yup, I'm guessing you just nodded your head in agreement. Stress over camera angles is a big part of the photo taking experience that can detract from the positivity of the moment. For some, it can ruin the whole event period.
Camera angles can make a significant difference in how we perceive a person's body. For example, taking a photo from a low angle can make a person look taller and more powerful, while taking a photo from a high angle can make a person look smaller and more vulnerable. This can have a significant impact on a person's self-image, as they may feel more confident or insecure based on how they appear in photos.
We asked our teen girls in Empowered RX for their opinions. Here are 4 of the biggest factors they repeatedly noted were make it or break it for fitting in on social media.
Angle of the body to the camera
Distance to the camera
They noted it is all about making yourself look as "thin, attractive and happy as possible".
No wonder 3/4 girls struggle with disordered eating.
Selfies are a popular way for people to capture and share moments from their daily lives. However, they also contribute to the pressure to look a certain way in photos. Social media platforms are flooded with photos of people posing in a certain way, with perfect lighting and angles, and even edited to perfection. Don't get me started on Filters! We will address that in a future post because that is a topic in and of itself.
This creates a culture of comparison, where people feel pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. In our cancel culture it has lead to the rise of "Instagram vs. reality" posts, where people show the behind-the-scenes of their perfect-looking posts. These posts aim to show that no one looks perfect all the time, and that social media often portrays an unrealistic view of reality. While we get the concept behind these, we ARE against before and after photos. They create a hierarchy of what acceptable bodies are and it is still a form of comparison that can do damage. Have you ever felt really great about yourself after browsing a bunch of before and after photos? I didn't think so.
Diet culture is another factor that contributes to negative body image. It promotes the idea that a person's worth is tied to their body size, and that thinness is the ultimate goal. Social media has only amplified this message, with influencers promoting various diets and workout routines, often claiming that they can help people achieve the "perfect" body. Instagram is flooded with this information but TIK TOK is the worst by far.
Sadly, many of the teen girls showed me the videos on Tik Tok promoting disordered eating, body shaming certain sizes and promoting really toxic behaviors like extreme fasting and cleanses. In our program, we teach the girls how to identify messaging that is toxic. Some of it isn't so obvious so we teach them to pay attention to:
Most importantly *How does it make you feel?*
The reality is that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and what works for one person may not work for another. Diet culture promotes the idea that we should constantly be striving to change our bodies, rather than accepting and loving them for what they are. This can lead to negative body image, disordered eating, and other mental health issues.
So, what can we do to combat these harmful messages and promote positive body image? One way is to be mindful of the camera angles we use when taking photos. By using a more neutral angle, we can help reduce the impact that photos have on our self-image.
Here is a photo I snapped this morning by accident.
I almost deleted it because my instinct was- "AH, CRAP. Not that angle." but then I realized why and caught myself. Diet Culture is sneaky and pervasive.
Imagine for a moment that these societally constructed standards of photo taking and bodies didn't exist. Hard to imagine, first of all. Second of all the sad reality is that we probably wouldn't be so consumed with taking pictures as often as we do now if we didn't feel like we had something to prove. Think about that the next time you post on social. Where is my desire to post this coming from?
Additionally, we can be more mindful of the content we consume on social media and seek out accounts that promote body neutrality and self-love. We can stop following accounts that make us feel badly about ourselves.
Camera angles, selfies, social media, and diet culture can all have a significant impact on how we perceive ourselves and others. By being mindful of these factors and actively working to promote natural photos, candids, and body image neutrality, we can create a healthier and more inclusive society. One where we don't feel compelled to be glued to our phones and constantly proving ourselves.
So, all this and you're probably thinking, "Leah, but you yourself post so often." ... Yes I do. Sadly, promoting community, building your network and running a business all come with tremendous pressures to be active on social media. I'm not going to lie, this is hard. I've been in this field for 16 years and I feel the pressure constantly.
I don't filter photos to make myself look thinner or more made up. I don't stress every time a candid is posted. If I feel the need to retake a photo, I dig deep and ask myself why. Sometimes there are valid reasons... messaging, saturation, light quality, exposure, composition, etc. As a photographer, I am always aware of these things. It's in my nature. I've learned to stop applying these factors to candid social media as much though, and now save it for my art.
If this article hits home I recommend you check out our FREE BODY IMAGE WORKBOOK and our program offerings. You deserve to be able to be present, connected to your body, and to love yourself as you are in that moment.