Instagram vs. Reality: The Trend That Embraces Imperfections

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | May 22, 2024

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Instagram is known for curated, polished images that show off glamorous travels, impeccable outfits, and perfect bodies. It’s a visual platform that puts beautiful aesthetic content on a pedestal. This is awesome for anyone who loves seeing breathtaking, inspirational photos and videos online. But sometimes, people can be negatively impacted when they have a hard time differentiating Instagram vs. reality.

Today, Instagram is brimming with skinny, beautiful influencers with perfect facial features and an opulent lifestyle. It’s natural (and practically unavoidable) to scroll through their glamorous feed posts or highlight Reels and compare oneself to them. Content like that can make people—women especially—feel pressured to conform to beauty standards and an unrealistic body image. But these photos are, more often than not, far from how real life looks.

Enter the Instagram trend of posting filtered and edited photos next to real, raw, untouched ones. By putting Instagram and real photos side-by-side, people slam the “fakeness” of a curated social media lifestyle and embrace authenticity.

Do you want to learn more about Instagram vs. real-life trends? Keep reading to discover how it positively affects the online community! We’ll also throw in ideas on how to hop in on the trend.

Two female influencers with hair and makeup done posing for a glamorous Instagram selfie.

What Is the Instagram Filter vs. Reality Trend?

The Instagram filter vs. reality trend shows people the stark disparity between polished, curated Instagram content and unedited, unfiltered truth. It’s a movement that encourages people to embrace authenticity, not filters and Photoshop, to make them look more beautiful. The goal of this trend is to let people realize that you shouldn’t always believe what you see on Instagram.

The trend gained popularity a few years ago. Influencers shared conventional Instagram photos characterized by heavy use of filters, Photoshop, strategic angling, and staging. They juxtaposed these polished images with raw, authentic, unedited photos. These raw photos showed a much less glamorous side of being an Instagram star.

Women are more vulnerable to being held against insane beauty standards. So, it’s no surprise that female influencers took the lead on this trend. 

Models began posting their best, carefully posed, edited photos and unfiltered ones right next to them. Some of these photos showed cellulite on their thighs, acne on their skin, and unflattering body silhouettes. They’re basically saying that while their body can look perfect with filters and editing, they’re not perfect.

The trend became wildly popular and even gained the hashtag #instagramvsreality. It started with promoting body positivity and denouncing how social media creates an unrealistic, negative body image for women. But the trend slowly evolved and is now applicable to other content themes, from travel to relationships.

The Impact of Posting Photoshopped Pictures Beside Raw, Unedited Ones

Seeing Photoshopped pictures next to untouched photos easily has some shock value. People might be surprised to see some of the most modelesque influencers with pimples or unflattering angles. But aside from that, it has a much deeper impact on Instagram users—it promotes unfiltered beauty and body positivity.

According to a Flinders University study, seeing “Instagram vs. reality” posts helps increase body satisfaction in young women. And it makes sense as to why. 

Seeing Instagram vs. real-life posts can help alleviate insecurities about your appearance. You start to realize that flaws and imperfections are normal and can affect even the most conventionally attractive people, too. This lessens the pressure to meet social media’s unrealistic beauty standards.

Aside from valuing authenticity, these posts can also reduce people’s tendencies to compare themselves with others. From time to time, you might find yourself comparing your body, facial features, and even lifestyle with that of others. The IG vs. reality trend can help curb these detrimental thoughts. Instead of having low self-esteem after seeing Photoshopped photos, you’ll realize that nobody’s perfect and have a realistic body image.

Perhaps the most wonderful part about this trend is that it encourages other people to post their own stories. It can empower women to openly post photos of their raw, unfiltered beauty without edits and feel confident about it. It may be a silly Instagram trend to some, but it’s incredibly impactful in the fight to uplift all women.

Five women with diverse skin tones and body shapes standing next to each other.

On a Lighter Note, What Is That Instagram vs. Reality TikTok Song Trend?

The IG vs. reality trend may have started as a beauty and body positivity movement. But in recent years, it has evolved into a more lighthearted trend. Instead of focusing on outward appearances, people create posts that show the reality of visiting Instagram’s popular tourist destinations.

These videos are popular on both Instagram and TikTok. They start with a few clips and photos of how these cities are portrayed on Instagram. Typically, these look cinematic, aesthetically pleasing, and polished. 

Then, the video cuts to the “reality” portion—a.k.a. how it really looks like when you visit these places. You’ll see huge crowds, long lines, and other less glamorous experiences when traveling there.

What makes this video trend truly entertaining is the audio clips that come with it. During the stylish “Instagrammable” clips, a trendy, iconic, upbeat song plays. When it transitions to the “reality” clips, a hilariously distorted, candidly sung, “discount” version of the song starts to play. It emphasizes the stark difference between Instagram content and reality even more!

Plenty of popular songs have become Instagram vs. reality TikTok songs. These include Sam Smith’s “Unholy,” Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” and even “Ooh Ahh” by Grits.

This trend is awesome for travel influencers who want to show a humorous side to their life on the road. It allows them to tell their followers what to expect when traveling truthfully. At the same time, they create entertaining, relevant content that has a strong potential for virality and high engagement.

A woman trying to get her photo taken at a crowded tourist attraction in Beijing.

Fun and Empowering Post Ideas To Depict Social Media vs. Reality

The social media vs. reality trend on Instagram is not limited to beauty or travel. You can be as creative as you want with how you show real life vs. Instagram. Here are a few ideas for creative content that show the difference between glamorous Instagram life and reality. 

Glam Influencer Style vs. Everyday Looks

Beauty and fashion influencers are known for their fabulous outfits, impeccable style, and makeup on-point. It’s their job to look good on Instagram, and they do just that. But they don’t walk around every day decked out in designer clothing and bold makeup looks. Most days, they probably wear pajamas at home all day, just like you and me. 

If you’re a creator who posts perfectly styled photos of yourself all the time, consider switching it up. Show your most candid, authentic self by posting your real everyday looks alongside your most glamorous ones. Don’t be afraid to show your bare face with an oversized T-shirt and glasses. Let your audience see how you look every day when the cameras aren’t around.

Aside from promoting authenticity and unfiltered beauty, this type of content also makes creators look more relatable. This can be endearing to their followers, which can lead to tons of engagement and positive sentiment on the post. 

The Struggle of Taking Photos Without Photobombers

It’s super frustrating to take a photo at a tourist spot with dozens of other people doing the same thing. The result? Photos with photobombers stealing the spotlight in your pictures.

Turn this around and make a funny IG vs. reality post out of it! First, post your final photo—the one with you at the center without any photobombers. Then, post a second photo—this time of the funniest photobombed pic you have. 

The more frustrated you look at it, the better! Caption your post with a quick “Expectation vs. reality at [tourist spot],” and watch the likes and comments roll in.

Instagram vs. Real Morning Routine

Morning routines are a huge trend on Instagram Reels today. Influencers film themselves waking up early, downing a protein shake, and rounding up that workout all by 7 AM. Then, they might make a trendy breakfast like avocado toast and get ready for the day.

But everyone knows that regular mornings aren’t always this glamorous and Instagrammable. Most mornings, you might stay a little too long in bed scrolling through social media. You don’t always work out and probably heat last night’s pizza for breakfast.

So, flip the trend and do an IG vs. reality of your morning routine. Show your audience a few clips of an Instagrammable morning routine. 

Then, show them how you really spend your mornings—no matter how chaotic and mundane. Film clips with messy bedhead hair, getting out of bed late, and unapologetically easy breakfasts. It’s real, relatable and entertaining!

A woman staying in bed after she woke up, scrolling through social media on her phone.

Date Night Reality Check

Couples usually post sweet, romantic photos from fancy date nights. Your photos might include a shot of you holding some flowers or you and your beau stealing a kiss. 

But even the best nights out with your partner don’t usually go perfectly. There might be chaotic moments throughout your night, too, like spilling wine on yourself or having a small argument.

If you love making funny Reels, shoot an IG vs. reality video depicting these relatable, funny date moments. Of course, keep it sweet at the end with a caption about embracing the silly, unscripted moments in your relationship.

A couple having a lighthearted disagreement in a park.

Final Photo vs. How Your Friends Took the Picture

Getting the perfect glam Instagram shot is a long, tedious process. You take almost a hundred photos to get the best shot you can. Sometimes, your friends helping you out with your content might go to extreme measures to get the perfect photo. Do a fun, relatable IG vs. reality post by sharing with your audience the silly ways people took your photo.

Start with your stylish, edited, curated final photo. Then, on the next photo, share a “behind the scenes” look at how the shot was captured. It can be something comical, like your boyfriend crouching on the ground to get that perfect angle. 

Turn it into a show of girl power with clips of friends yelling and hyping you up as you pose. Maybe show people the struggle of doing a solo photoshoot as you prop up your phone on a garbage can.

Posts like these highlight the hard work you put into creating content. It shows that looking good on social media is never effortless. In fact, it’s hard work that requires you to do the funniest, most outrageous things for the gram.

Delectable Food Photos vs. the Messy Kitchen Behind It

Food influencers are known to whip up the most mouthwatering, appetizing, drool-worthy food photos and videos on Instagram. What people don’t see is how messy their kitchen ends up when they make a delicious meal for Instagram.

Show the reality of perfectly styled dishes with a sneak peek of your kitchen after making a meal from scratch. Post your delicious-looking food photos or video clips. Then, follow it up with shots of your kitchen looking like a total crime scene! 

Not only is this hilarious, but it’s super relatable for fellow cooks and homemakers. It goes to show people that picture-perfect dishes are the result of huge messes and tons of dirty dishes.

A messy, crowded kitchen counter with many pasta ingredients and kitchen tools.

Instagram vs. Reality Captions for Your Authentic IG Moments

Seeing IG vs. reality photos is impactful. But with hard-hitting Instagram vs reality captions to match, they really drive the point home.

Think of compelling and thought-provoking Instagram post captions that will truly empower your audience and allow them to embrace authenticity. You can go the strong and independent route or maybe inject humor and fun into it—whatever works for you.

Don’t have a way with words? We’ve got you. Here are a few captions to draw inspiration from when you post about Instagram glam vs. reality.

  • “With curves like these, who needs Photoshop?”
  •  “Behind every bikini photo is a food baby I’m working hard to hide. 📸😂”
  •  “Flaws > filters #bodypositivity 💫💕”
  •  “Real beauty shines brighter than airbrushed photos ever will. #nofilter”
  •  “Expectation: sultry beach photos. Reality: messy hair in the ocean breeze and an uneven tan. 🤣”
  •  “Life is better raw, real, and unfiltered.”
  •  “How I thought I would look when he proposed vs. how I actually looked (I ugly cried).”
  •  “Visit Amalfi, they said. There are no crowds, they said. It’s a hidden gem, they said.”

Attract New Followers by Being Raw and Real on Instagram

You don’t have to look perfectly manicured and snatched all the time to get more likes on Instagram. If you want more followers and engagement on your page, embracing authenticity is key. Keep it real by posting your content showing typical polished photos vs. what really goes on behind the scenes.

By posting content showing social media vs. reality, you can promote self-love, acceptance, and realness. It’s all about embracing imperfections and chaos. It shows people that despite what Instagram leads them to believe, nobody has the perfect body, facial features, or life. This fosters a safe, positive, and authentic online environment.

There’s another good reason to post IG vs. reality content on your page. Funny, relatable, empowering posts like these are a surefire way to gain tons of engagement online. After being brave enough to show your unfiltered chaos, you’ll probably see tons of new likes, comments, and even followers. These posts can strengthen your connection with people, making them more interested in what you have to offer on Instagram.

Do you want more people to see your inspirational and entertaining Instagram vs. reality posts? Work with Path Social.

Our targeting algorithm analyzes your goals and content themes to look for your niche audience. Then, we’ll push out your content to show up on their feeds. That way, your authentic content will reach the right people. Gain more followers today and empower them with your IG vs reality content with Path Social.