This article originally appeared on People.com.
As a psychologist, Stacey Lee understands the impact social media images can have on a person’s self-worth.
“One of the recurrent themes I treat in my profession is body image and its effect on self-esteem,” the Melbourne-based fitness influencer posted on Instagram on Monday. “Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s own worth. However, when that worth is tied to an image, a number on a scale, the size of clothes, the smoothness of skin, the smallness of a waist, the bigness of a butt, the definition on your abs or the gap between your thighs, your worth will never be measured correctly.”
Lee says using those factors to define our self-worth is especially damaging when we hold ourselves to the unrealistic ideals set by images that have been photoshopped.
“We are shown images every day which are not realistic — even the small changes to photos or advertisements make a difference,” she says. “They send subconscious messages saying that you aren’t enough, and never will be.”
Lee decided to decrease her exposure to manipulated images by unfollowing certain social media accounts.
“As soon as I stopped following accounts that used photoshop, professional images, constant filters and altered their images, my self-esteem improved,” she said. “ Being able to see real women share their real bodies […] gave me the confidence to work for my realistic goals, and to measure my progress on a REAL measuring stick.”
To illustrate her point about subtle manipulations to photos, Lee showed how minor edits can make a big difference in the way a person’s body looks.
“ The point of this image is to show that when something that is already ‘good’ is altered to be ‘better,’ it teaches people that your ‘real’ isn’t good enough,” she said. “ I don’t want to ever perpetuate or encourage that twisted notion. So I post these photos to combat that idea and to raise awareness of the damage it can have.”