That Beautiful Instagram Photo Only Reflects a Fraction of Real Life

If you’ve ever felt a pang of jealousy when scrolling through your Instagram feed, you’re not alone, according to a new survey.

Photo by Sarah Karnasiewicz

If you’re lucky enough to capture the perfect shot of snow falling in your yard, or frame your Sunday morning pancakes just-so, you’ll probably capitalize on that moment, all in the name of Instagram. But, it turns out, that feed of Insta-worthy moments might not be anything close to reality. In a survey of 1,000 female Instagram users conducted by Real Simple and Survey Monkey, almost 75 percent of respondents saw through the filters—they reported that people use Instagram to make their lives appear better. This is probably true, since 65 percent of the women felt their personal feeds only reflected the good aspects of their own lives, and roughly 70 percent also admitted to taking two or more shots before posting.

In 2014, Instagram saw significant growth—its user base increased by 9 percent, and more than half of its users reported using the site every single day, according to data from the Pew Research Center. In the process, though, Instagram has become a highlight-reel, of seemingly flawless feeds of picturesque breakfast foods and vibrant sunsets.

Real life, on the other hand—the one where coffee spills and toddlers scream—can look very different from the photos we stage on social media. This year, Real Simple launched @WomenIRL, an Instagram account and hashtag campaign that allows women to showcase their messier, unfiltered moments. While about one-third of women occasionally feel jealous of Instagram accounts, they also find the platform to be funny—@WomenIRL is a space to laugh and commiserate about those chaotic moments. While we love looking at beautiful, striking imagery too, @WomenIRL encourages everyone to also post the tilted, sometimes out-of-focus shot that embraces the mess and forces everyone to finally get real on Instagram.

Do you want to join the campaign? Follow @WomenIRL on Instagram, and tag your real, unfiltered photos #WomenIRL—we’ll repost our favorites.