A fitness Instagrammer is inspiring others online after posting a photo showing how easy it is to manipulate a body "transformation" photo.
Jessica Pack is a landscape architect in Orlando, Florida. Last June, she decided she was ready to make a change toward "self-love" and start a new fitness journey.
Pack told BuzzFeed News the catalyst was when she saw a photo of herself and started complaining to her roommate that she looked like a "whale."
"It was in that moment that I realized I was over being so hard and critical of myself and I was finally ready to make a change," she said.
The 26-year-old started doing Kayla Itsines's Body Bikini Guide program, and began chronicling her journey on Instagram.
She has since amassed nearly 50,000 followers, though she said that was never the plan.
"My goal was never to gain followers," she said. "It was simply to document my fitness journey and remain accountable to my goals by being vulnerable and putting myself out there."
Like many fitness bloggers and Instagrammers, Pack posts many pictures of her progress toward her goals.
But last week, Pack decided to do something different. She posted two bikini shots of herself, as if they were a "before and after" photo collage.
But, she explained, the pictures were actually taken just 30 seconds apart and the only thing she adjusted was her posture. She explained that she posted the pictures to show "not everything we see meets the eye here on social media":
You can show you best angles and hide your flaws but at the end of the day what we chose to showcase is a reflection of ourselves. My body isn't perfect. I still have imperfections and flaws that I'm slowly learning to be comfortable with. I want to be real and honest and open. Yes I've accomplished a lot, but yes my body still has less than ideal days when it doesn't look its best. Fitness and health is not a fix. It's not a destination. It's a lifestyle. If you force your progress you know who you are cheating?! You. You only cheat you. Yes I like to show my best most of the time but I've also realized by not showing my worst that it only harms myself. Being vulnerable and imperfect is hard but lying to yourself is worse. I know I'm hard on myself, it's a flaw on its own, but I'm slowly learning to be gentle and kind but it starts with being truthful to myself and knowing and understanding my imperfections and realizing that, although they exist, they don't define me. I am not a before picture. I am not an after picture. I am not fat nor am I perfect. I'm flawed. I'm scarred. I'm insecure. But I'm learning and I'm hopeful that one day I'll fully love me.
Pack said that she was not the first to do the "30-second transformation," and indeed many other women on social media are showing how deceptive online photos can be.
"I wanted to share so that other girls could see this, and see that the majority of those 'perfect' bodies you see online aren't real," this user wrote.
"So sad before. So happy after. Got thumbs up/down to prove it, see?" fitness trainer Jessica Rachael wrote.
Pack said she decided to be vulnerable and share "so that other girls don't feel alone in their own insecurities."
"It is easy to post your best, but so difficult to post about your worse," she said. "I want my account to always be relatable, real, honest, and open. I don't want any girl to see my page and think my body is perfect, because it is not. I don't want other girls comparing themselves to my best photos."
She said the response to her photo has been amazing and that it is "comforting" to know she is "not alone" in sometimes feeling insecure about her body.
"I want to continue to help supporting and encouraging other girls in their journeys to self love and body confidence," she said. "At the end of the day, I really just want to feel and for other girls to know that they are enough today, tomorrow, and always."
Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Stephanie McNeal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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