At this point, people are well-aware of how staged photos can be for social media. Whether it's a glamorous selfie or exotic travel photo, there are so many apps to filter and stylize photos to the heart's content. But the staging also extends to how people arrange their bodies, whether it is to look more toned or during a workout routine, and the methods used can yield shocking results.
One journalist is on a mission to document these social media tricks, in an effort to peel back the curtain for for her numerous impressionable and insecure followers. Danae Mercer has extensive experience organizing photo shoots for both editorial magazines and social media, She regularly shares the tricks industry insiders would use to glamorize their subjects. With a simple adjustment of the light, pushing your hips back, and angling your legs in a certain position, a full-body photo can change drastically. But as you can see from the posts below, Mercer isn't posting these images to inspire an audience or glamorize thinness. She has a much more wholesome and empowering reasoning behind her work.
Mercer wants her social media to be an enlightening tool. According to Mercer, ""I just think we need to be educated so that we know, OK, this is posed, this gal doesn't look like this all the time — that normally she's not squeezing her abs and arching her hips and standing on tiptoe by the window."
If it becomes public knowledge of how heavily photoshopped magazine photography can be, then why not have the same sorts of conversations around social media content? Yet Mercer's work doesn't just stop at Instagram. Her posts address some larger, more complex subjects: mental health and body positivity. On the subject of her social media presence, Mercer stated, "Part of this whole conversation for me, one where I talk about the reality behind pictures, is to pull us back to a bigger topic: mental health. We need to broaden our understanding of health beyond just the aesthetic and really look at what's happening inside of us. Even on social media. Especially on social media."
These heavily edited photos can absolutely have an effect on audiences, both in terms of mental health and insecurity over different body types. That is why Mercer also makes more vulnerable, unedited content. These are photos that show off her body in an unfiltered and authentic way, something that many influencers would completely balk at.
"It's scary because you feel vulnerable. You're putting yourself out there and just saying, hey, this is me, this is the real me and not a mask, and it's fragile, and here I am,'" she said. "[I spend] a lot of time unpacking it, trying to understand what I believe versus what I've been told to believe, while also reminding myself to be grateful for all the cool things my body can do, rather than just the way it looks."
Her blatant vulnerability, especially around showing off natural features such as cellulite, have made her a hit amongst her fan base. We need more influential social media figures like her to help viewers feel more comfortable and accepting in their natural bodies, rather than promote insecurity and negative self-esteem.