Woman shares dramatic side-by-side photos to prove how deluded Instagram has made us about our bodies

Alex Lasker

A self-love activist and influencer is bringing about greater public awareness of the deceitful nature of social media imagery with her powerful “ Instagram vs reality” photos.

Danae Dianne Mercer, a Dubai-based freelance health and travel writer, has amassed over 1.3 million followers on Instagram through her body acceptance content, in which she strives to normalize cellulite, stretch marks and belly rolls — a few very natural parts of the human body that are rarely showcased or even acknowledged online.

“Your cellulite is NOT an error. A glitch in perfection,” she captioned one of her recent posts. “It’s incredible. Unique. A stamp mark of who you are. A sign that your body is functioning and alive and doing the same thing as over 80% of other women.”

Mercer told In The Know she actually got her start on Instagram sharing traditional “fitspo” and luxury travel content, but her exhaustion with keeping up such an illusion led her to pivot and become a body-acceptance champion instead.

“I started to feel really disconnected from what I was putting out there and what I knew happened behind the scenes,” she explained. “I’d show a perfect snapshot after posing and arching and taking dozens of photos for much longer than a candid moment.”

After seeing Sara Shakeel’s glitter stretch mark campaign, which, “in an instant changed the way” Mercer thought about her own body, she ultimately decided to make a change in her posting habits in order to create a movement that “could possibly help other women.”

The result is ongoing exposure about how posing and lighting can be used to manipulate or enhance one’s appearance online — something Mercer doesn’t believe is inherently bad, but something she wants her audience to be aware of no less.

“Posing is great fun, but NOT POSING doesn’t make you worth ANY LESS,” she wrote in one of her latest posts. “Even if it means your wobbly bits come out on show.”

Mercer, who previously served as the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health Middle East and Men’s Health Middle East, says she hopes her extensive knowledge of an industry that often perpetuates harmful beauty standards can help her “pull back the curtain” and lead women to love and accept their bodies, stretch marks and all.

“I want women to understand that what we see online or in magazines is only a glimmer of the truth and that so much of what we think is ‘flawed’ about ourselves is completely, marvelously normal,” she told In The Know. “I want women to feel normal, to know they’re not alone and to know that we’re in this together.”

“Ultimately, women are incredibly powerful and undeniably strong,” she added. “I just would love to see us turn some of that strength and love to ourselves and our bodies.”

If you enjoyed this story, check out our favorite body acceptance TikTokers.

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