How many times have you scrolled through Instagram, looking at your favorite fitness bloggers and thought, "I wish I looked like her"? Truth is, those people probably don't look like that in real life. Welcome to the magic of Photoshop — and lighting, posture, and the rest.
Madalin Giorgetta knows this better than most — so she posted a transformation photo, though not the kind we're used to seeing. Here, we chat with Giorgetta about that shot, and how social media has changed the fitness industry.
BIKINI: How did you get into fitness? What drove you to start a blog?
MADALIN GIORGETTA: I downloaded the Sweat with Kayla app in January 2016 and starting just working out at home. I don't use the app anymore, but it was a great way to start my fitness journey. I started my blog because I wanted to go into more detail with my followers over posts that didn't fit the 2,200 character limit on Instagram (look, I like to talk!).
BIKINI: You posted a photo to Instagram showing how lighting and posture can completely change your look. Why?
MG: I think so often we forget that Instagram is a highlight reel — it is not what people look like in real life. It's an important message that I wanted to convey because I do find myself scrolling through my feed, which heavily features edited and "picture perfect" photos, and feeling disheartened. I was feeling crap about my body image by seeing these photos, so I thought maybe people feel crap by seeing my photos as well! My account is an account that I hope to inspire and motivate people with, I don't want people feeling crap about their bodies because of what they see on my "highlight reel." That's why I choose to feature realistic photos on my feed from time to time.
BIKINI: Was your photo widely accepted by your followers? How did you deal with the negative responses?
MG: My followers are the best — 90% positive comments. The most negative comments I read are from people that don't follow me. I was featured in a few online publications and they shared the articles on Facebook. I read a few negative comments and then just chose not to read anymore. It doesn't do me any good, so I choose to ignore them. Sometimes all you can do is laugh at some of the shit people say. My favorite: "You'd be hotter if you got rid of the Harry Potter glasses."
BIKINI: Do you believe the fitness industry can change from highly edited versions of people to more realistic?
MG: I think it slowly is changing. More and more people are interested in transparency. If brands continue to support influencers such as myself in the fitness industry who are transparent, then I think others will be encouraged to be more transparent as well. Your Instagram feed is a reflection of your brand, and some brands may choose not to work with you because they want an Instagram feed that is edited and more aesthetically pleasing. This means no transformation photos, good lighting, and "perfect bodies." You can see why so many fitness models don't post more realistic pictures.
When people with larger followings have the courage to post more realistic photos, like Anna Victoria, then others will follow suit. I think it's really great that we are starting to see this within the fitness industry, but it would be great to see it in other industries as well, such as beauty and particularly fashion. I wouldn't say that people don't show their real selves — they just show their "best selves," and I think sometimes people do forget that.
BIKINI: Do many fitness gurus on Instagram undergo surgery to look the way they do? What are your thoughts on physical enhancements like that?
MG: I'm not really sure to be honest. I know a lot of fitness girls do get breast augmentations because they have low body fat and tend to lose their boobs. In terms of other surgeries, like Brazilian butt lifts or implants, I'd have no idea, as they are more difficult to tell. I don't have any issues with what women choose to do to their bodies. There should be no judgement based on how women chose to alter their figures. The only time I would have an issue with it, would be if someone choose to have surgeries, then sold a program claiming the program will get you their results. That's just unfair and the same as Maybelline selling mascara and using false eyelashes in the ad. Don't dupe the consumer.
BIKINI: What advice do you have for your young followers, who struggle with their own body confidence? Particularly when they're looking at photos of highly edited fitness models with "perfect" bodies?
MG: Man, it's freaking hard. It was hard for me in high school, and there wasn't even Facebook or Instagram around when I was at school! We were still using dial-up Internet! It's so easy to say, "love yourself," etc., but it's really something that I think every teenager will struggle with. It breaks my heart when 14-year-old girls message me about their tummy fat and their big thighs, but it's not so simple to tell them to just accept their bodies. I don't really know what advice to give, but I know confidence is so, so important. It's just a shame that it doesn't come earlier in life. Most people don't actually look how they do on Instagram, you just have to try remember that. And if someone is making you feel bad about your body, unfollow them. Follow women that make you feel confident and who are open about their bodies and who don't follow the conventional standards of beauty. I love Iskra Lawrence, Karla Deras, and Amina Blue.
BIKINI: What advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your fitness journey?
MG: I would have told old me to eat more! I didn't realize the amount I was eating was actually stifling my process, not progressing it. I also would have made the decision to work with a personal trainer earlier — it's made a huge difference to my progress and I've learned so much.
For more on Madalin, visit her YouTube channel: