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An Aussie woman is sharing 'before and after' photos that are unlike anything we've seen.

Mamamia logo Mamamia 2/06/2017 Jessica Chambers
Stacey-lee © social Stacey-lee

For years fitness models have been photoshopping their photos on Instagram, but we as consumers are only just cottoning on to the sneaky – and damaging – practice.

Psychologist Stacey Lee, who’s developed a following for her fitness snaps, knows just how damaging the promotion of an unrealistic body can be for women’s self-esteem from her work in the area.

So she’s calling out the image-altering with some before and after pics that show how a fit woman can go from inspirational to unattainable with a few clicks of a mouse.

With her before-and-after photos, Stacey showed that adding a filter, smoothing cellulite and enlarging her bum while shrinking her waist could be done in such a way that the edits were not obvious to the average Instagram user.

And that’s why they’re so insidious.

“We are shown images every day which are not realistic, even the small changes to photos or advertisements make a difference. They send subconscious messages saying that you aren’t enough, and never will be,” she wrote next to one of her images.

“You look and think ‘why can’t that be me, why aren’t my legs smooth, my thighs smaller, my butt bigger, my waist skinnier, my arms more defined? I’m disgusting. I’m fat. I’m gross’…”

A post shared by Stacey Lee (@psychandsquats) on

The 27-year-old said that as soon as she herself stopped following accounts full of photoshopped images “my self-esteem improved”.

“Being able to see real women share their real bodies, which still look incredible! Gave me the confidence to work for my realistic goals, and to measure my progress on a REAL measuring stick.”

She said she was not creating the images because she didn’t like her natural body, but rather to say the opposite.

“I love the work I’ve put in to look like the photo on the left.”

A post shared by Stacey Lee (@psychandsquats) on

“Yes I’ll add a filter sometimes, I love photography. But I’ll NEVER adjust my body through an app and post it as a real image. That’s adding fuel to an already all-consuming fire.”

Stacey urged other women to reconsider airbrushing their own Instagram images

“Subconsciously we are primed to find certain body types more acceptable. This can be very subtle changes to photographs seen on a daily basis.”

“But these small changes resonate deeply within our minds. Shaping our beliefs about the way we ‘should’ look, and therefore creates unrealistic comparisons and perpetuates negative self-talk which becomes low self-esteem.”

Her top tips for fellow fitness enthusiasts and Instagram users? Unfollow people who post photos that make you feel bad about yourself.

“Take your control. Don’t fear your unfiltered self.”

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