These women posted side-by-side selfies (some taken moments apart) to prove a powerful point about body positivity.

By Anthea Levi
January 31, 2017

We’ve all been there: You’re scrolling through Instagram and it seems like all you see are toned tummies and sculpted butts. How can that be? The reality is, most of those selfies were shot from a super-flattering angle, and in flattering light, to create a "perfect" image. In other words, just a few seconds later, the person in the picture may look very different. That's what the 11 women below set out to prove when they posted "before-and-after" shots taken days or even moments apart. The results show that yep, everyone gets stomach rolls, food babies, and cellulite too. Scroll down for 12 reminders to love the skin your in.


"Same girl, same day, same time," wrote body positive advocate Milly Smith earlier this week in a caption for two photos that illustrate a simple point: Where your tights sit on your waist can make a big difference in how your body appears on camera. "We are so blinded to what a real unposed body looks like and blinded to what beauty is that people would find me less attractive within a 5 second pose switch! How insanely ridiculous is that!?" 

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Your fat rolls are beautiful🙌 ⬆️I made a video about them (link in my bio)⬆️ And the reason we have been lead to believe they aren't is because we don't see them in the media unless someone's being shamed for weight gain or ridiculed for their body. This is NOT the truth and not OK. Having rolls of skin / fat that are soft / squidgy or big / small does not define your beauty. I wanted to show you how my body looks when I'm relaxed and when I'm posing right next to each other so you can see how easy it is to manipulate how a body looks. (I filmed myself doing this for you on my YouTube) As a model in the industry 13years I've seen nearly all the pics chosen of me for lingerie & swimwear shoots are the ones where my stomach looks flattest. Which for a long time lead me to believe that's how I should look. Because even if I did happen to have a few shots where I'm in a position you can see back fat or rolls someone had decided it's more "beautiful" "aspirational" or will inspire more customers to buy the product if those so called "flaws" don't exist. But things are changing I remember the first time I saw curvier models in editorials with their rolls and back fat and I remember the first time I shot with @aerie and they wanted me to not pose but be real and just myself. Then when I saw my first campaign with them and I could see my unretouched body - pics with rolls / back fat I'm not gonna lie I was shocked. That quickly turned into joy because they made me feel good enough and knew that those "flaws" didn't mean I wasn't beautiful in fact showing that their models didn't have to be "flawless" was incredibly empowering. So thank you #AerieReal and everyone who created the movement it's not just game changing but life changing ILY😘 And that's why when I started my insta about 3years ago I created the #everyBODYisbeautiful bc we are more than the sum of our perfections we are all beautiful equal souls living in imperfectly perfect bodies.

A photo posted by i s k r a (@iskra) on

Iskra Lawrence never shies away from an opportunity to promote body positivity. This week the British model posted these two pics with a message for her followers: “Your fat rolls are beautiful. And the reason we have been led to believe they aren’t is because we don’t see them in the media unless someone's being shamed for weight gain or ridiculed for their body."

This side-by-side comparison is just one of the many reasons we love Emily Skye: It shows the effect of her “dessert baby” (which was "SO worth it," she wrote). Skye’s larger goal? To communicate to her nearly two million followers that “perfection doesn't exist, which is easy to forget when we spend so much of time on social media being bombarded by 'perfect bodies' - or what 'appears' to be." 

Anna Victoria, the Instagram star behind the successful Fit Body Guides, showed us that everyone can benefit from a good angle, even fitness bloggers. But how you look in a photograph doesn't actually matter, according to Victoria. “Good or bad angles don’t change your worth,” she wrote in the caption.

⭐️SelfLove Bootcamp w/Kenzie & Gina⭐️ DAY 16: EMBRACE THE SQUISH · Okay guys, NEITHER of these pics have been edited, retouched, photoshopped, etc. They were taken about 30 seconds apart, this morning at the same camera angle. I am literally twisting my body so far that my stomach disappears on the left. 👉🏼If you would have come across the picture on the left only, some of you may have thought, "omg that girl is so skinny, I wish I looked like that" 👉🏼This is the problem with the internet. A lot of women only post pictures like the one on the left & at the exact same time they also look like the picture on the right, but if we only see the skinny pic, we think they "have the perfect body" & internalize the idea that we don't. 👉🏼This is not true for everyone, but it is true for ALOT of women. 👉🏼Today in SelfLove Bootcamp, we are working to #embracethesquish 💓 Embracing those parts of our bodies where our skin rolls, squishes & sags. Because they are NORMAL parts of all bodies. 99% of the reason we feel they are bad, gross, make us look ugly, make us not sexy is because of the airbrushed & mutated images we see 10 million times a day everywhere we look. 👉🏼LADIES & MEN: The rolls are sexy, beautiful & natural. No matter how big or small they are. 👉🏼At the same time, I know they give you anxiety & make you feel all the negative thoughts, whether you have an ED, BDD or not. I honor those feelings you have & share them with you at times. We are all human & it is impossible to escape the beauty standards that have been placed upon us. 👉🏼I want you to know that your body, naturally, as it is right now is enough. 👉🏼Try not to compare yourself to images you see, those photos should not control your happiness, your self-worth or how you feel about your body. 🔥🔥Keri Washington said "You cannot compare your insides to another person's outsides" ☝🏼 REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOU'RE FEELING LOW. 〰 LOVE, SUPPORT & POSITIVITY 💘xo #thereisnowrongwaytobeawoman #SelfLoveBootcamp #beforeandafter

A photo posted by ·*· h a l l e ·*· (@_____halle__) on

“Okay guys, NEITHER of these pics have been edited, retouched, photoshopped etc.,” wrote this body positive activist in her Instagram post. She goes on to explain that the photos were taken 30 seconds apart. n the first one, she’s simply twisting her body so her stomach isn’t seen by the camera: “This is the problem with the internet. A lot of women only post pictures like the one on the left & at the exact same time they also look like the picture on the right, but if we only see the skinny pic, we think they 'have the perfect body' & internalize the idea that we don't.” Preach. 

Lucy Baker, the blogger behind the The Fit Life, illustrated how her belly looks after a day of comfort eating. "We're only human and all of slip up sometimes," she wrote. "As I've clearly proved, everyone goes through the exact same struggles!"

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Getting in on the #30secondtransformation movement, vegan Instagrammer @girlxfit recently shared these photos taken a half a minute apart. The secret to her suddenly slimmer figure? “On the left I'm flexing pretty hard and on the right I'm not even pushing out, I'm just relaxed as you'd find me at any other moment in the day. Just a reality check.”

Here's evidence that it's completely normal for your tummy to expand over the course of the day. Sara Puhto shared these three photos of herself taken within 20 hours—one after working out in the a.m., another after eating a big meal at night, and a third after exercising again the following morning. "I've posted a photo like this before but I just wanted to remind you that it's normal for your stomach to get bigger after large meals and that our bodies don't look the same throughout the day," wrote Puhto, who notes that she's learned to love herself at her most toned, as well as when she's sporting a food baby bump.  

“If I'm going to show you the posed, put together, professional sides of me, I'm gonna make damn sure you see the not so flattering sides too. Because, contrary to what society has taught us to think, our worth isn't measured by how many belly rolls we have, or how many dimples on our booty, or how much jiggle hangs out on our arms,” wrote fitness blogger Foodie Girl Fitness on her Facebook page last November. We think she looks equally beautiful in both snaps.

Not all heroes wear capes—some wear sports bras. The Biggest Loser trainer Jen Widerstrom shared this photo with her Instagram followers to highlight how differently a fit physique can appear on camera depending on one's posture. “Don’t stress about the way your body looks in certain positions,” wrote Widerstrom. “These photos were taken 2 minutes apart!” 

This Bikini Body Guide devotee divulged her #30secondtransformation when she shared this “perfectly imperfect” comparison on her Instagram account last year. Calling out how social media has become the “highlight reel” of our lives, the fitness influencer wrote that she wanted to be as real as possible with her followers, giving them a chance to see her imperfections along with her high points: “Imperfections make you real, approachable, human and one of a kind,” added the mother of three. 

Let's get real in this Holiday Inn in Portland. I've been wanting to do a post like this for a while. Normally exposing myself like this would feel mortifying and inappropriate to me but given what I've been seeing online and knowing the way young girls and boys are affected by what they see, well, I feel moved to do this. I'm not judging the people that want to portray themselves as beautiful, organized, perfect outfitted and skinny. (I mean I love to scroll through an organizers Instagram.) But what you see on people's instagrams and Facebook is never the whole picture. People that post photos of their bodies and faces online, have almost always taken about 9 photos in hopes of getting that perfect angle, that perfect look and then they filter it. Then you see it and you think "wow she looks amazing", meanwhile the girl that posted it is frantically checking her "likes" and comments. I've done it myself. We are all guilty. Given this little platform that I have I just want to encourage young people to take themselves out of this cycle the best they can. I'm a 35 year old woman. I'm in good shape. I can fit in a sample size sometimes. I've had a three abdominal surgeries. An appendectomy when I was 12, a tubal salpingectomy (look it up) when I was 33 and a C section at 34. If you look at the photo on the left you can see my scar. These photos aren't filtered and if I tried really hard I could make my abs look perfect and then post it online and make a bunch of young girls feel like shit about their own abs. But my abs can also look like they do on the right. I'm presenting the whole picture. I carried an over 8 pound baby for what felt like 16 months. I'd say I earn both of these shots. Excuse the lengthy message. But all you social media devotees know that life online can be adorable and funny and connected and it can also be a manifestation of deep insecurity and faux perfection. In my opinion we are beautiful when we are kind and empathetic and curious and laughing. Explore the world. Get off your damn phone. Spoken like a mom right? Ps. This is a message to myself too. So much love, Vanessa @tracyandersonmethod red pants are 🔥

A photo posted by Vanessa Carlton (@vanessacarltonactual) on

Vanessa Carlton posted these stomach snapshots to Instagram last year as evidence of the “faux perfection” of selfies. “Normally exposing myself like this would feel mortifying and inappropriate to me but given what I've been seeing online and knowing the way young girls and boys are affected by what they see, well, I feel moved to do this,” the singer wrote in the caption. “I’m presenting the whole picture."