We always appreciate when celebrities and social media stars acknowledge that many of their photos and videos are Photoshopped. But one Instagram influencer took things one step further by showing just how easy it is to completely alter your body.
Podcaster Emily Clarkson recently posted a video where she used editing apps to change her appearance while addressing her followers.
"I think by now we’re all aware that video editing software exists. But I think something that we don’t quite appreciate is the extent of it,” the 28-year-old said at the beginning of the clip.
Clarkson, whose father is British TV personality Jeremy Clarkson, then showcased the deceiving way that editing apps can make you look like a totally different person.
“I can stand here right now in front of you with my real body, but I can also use an app to make my waist smaller. I can make my hips a little bit wider, I can make my boobs bigger," the podcaster said as her body visibly changed.
Clarkson then showed how she can alter her height and the appearance of her neck, shoulders and legs. All the while, the 28-year-old moved around on the screen as the changes were taking place.
“I can exist on your screen portraying a body that I don’t own. I can even change my face. I can change the structure of it, the color of my eyes," she said. "I can be anything I want to be using apps — and I don’t have to tell you.”
At the end of her video, Clarkson left her followers with an important message.
“So please let this be a reminder the next time you feel insecure because you’ve seen something on Instagram, that it is very easy to manipulate the image here,” she said.
Clarkson's followers praised her for keeping it real and sharing a behind the scenes look at how video editing can cause warped body image expectations.
“This is so important and so very well explained — thank you,” one of her followers commented. Another shared, "You are awesome. Just watched this with my two daughters who are not yet on SM but want to be aged 11 and 12. Thank-you."
Why is Clarkson's message so important?
Jill Stoddard, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of “Be Mighty: A Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance,” told TODAY that Clarkson's video is especially important because this level of video and photo editing can be particularly damaging for the people witnessing it.
"It’s perpetuating a false body ideal that is not reflective of what we actually look like," she explained.
As humans, we're wired to compare ourselves to each other. But in doing so, we don't necessarily notice the harm we're doing to our own self-worth.
"The more we see videos like this, the more we feel we’re falling short when we ask questions like, 'Do I belong? Am I good enough? Do I add value?'" she said.
How to protect your mental health while scrolling through social media
Even though we know it's not healthy to see these edited, unrealistic standards of beauty, many of us can't help but mindlessly scroll through social media in our free time. Luckily, Stoddard has some tips for preserving your mental health.
Limit social media usage: "I know this is obvious and everyone says it, but it matters," she said.
Curate your social media: "These are accounts that will make you feel good instead of less than. Take control of what your eyeballs are seeing instead of letting social media companies make money while making you depressed and anxious," she suggested.