It’s not often you hear about a man’s Photoshop fail or a male model criticizing a brand for editing his appearance without permission. That’s because many of the manipulated images involve women, with or without their consent.
But men, in fact, also Photoshop their bodies to look better on social media. In fact, one Instagram influencer thinks it’s just as common for men as it is among women.
On Thursday, fitness influencer Shan Michael Hefley shared a side-by-side comparison of two almost identical selfies on Instagram. The images show a shirtless, buff, and bearded Hefley, and the only difference is some definition and saturation. He captioned the one of the left, “NO EDIT,” and the one on the right, “EDITED.”
“Be real Thursday!!” he wrote. “On the left is how I look pretty much every day. [P]hoto has no editing whatsoever.” He claimed he only edits his photos “because I enjoy being an artist and changing the looks and effects of a photo, not to be untruthful.”
Regardless of the reason, it was important for him to remind his fans that images on Instagram are less perfect than they appear. “[S]o remember as you look through your Instagram feed and compare yourself to other bodies 99% of the time that’s not how they look in real life.”
His 43,000 followers appreciated his honesty. “Love the honesty Mike!! I see so many people photoshop their photos,” wrote one follower named Josh. “Looking amazing my brother on either. The way you edit is just accentuating the shadow and edges. Not like others who exaggeratedly editing their photos which way far from how they really look,” said a fellow male fitness buff.
“I have received almost 100 percent positive responses. People respect honesty,” Hefley tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Revealing that your photos are edited is a big deal, not to mention a bit brave, considering how cruel social media can be. Some women have been copping to it more recently, but men also need to be relieved of the pressure to be perfect. “On my Instagram I want to be as open and honest as I can be, just as I am in person,” Hefley explains. “I want my followers to know I am someone who can be trusted as they follow my page and my life.”
Hefley says it’s all about the art when it comes to changing his images. “For me, I edit my photos more for artistic value than anything else,” the 55-year-old says. “I do not use Photoshop to make myself more muscular, more handsome, or less aged. I apply edits that change the lighting and details because I like the ‘look’ of the after photo.”
He explains that while his posts are “very truthful” to how he looks on most days, he does make himself look tan on Instagram. “If someone were to see me in person, they may notice that I’m not as tan as I am in my photos,” he says, “but as far as muscularity, they would not be disappointed.”
As for why looking tan is important to him: “Muscle definition shows better the darker the skin is,” Hefley explains. “Don’t get me wrong — I don’t dramatically darken my skin but lightly. The more defined a muscle is, the larger it appears to be.”
While Hefley says he doesn’t feel pressured to look a certain way for social media, “as an influencer who wants to motivate, having a well-defined musculature is important — it is the look that the followers are after.”
However, he does admit that men do feel some pressure, just like women, on social platforms. “I would love to have a page with 100K plus followers, and look like my physique is cut from granite. But I care more about letting my followers know that at 55 years old, they can look like me.”
Hefley shares that he’s always edited his photos. “Again, it wasn’t to hide anything,” he notes. “But being a little creative, I enjoyed tweaking details and color saturation, never size.”
He adds: “If you want to influence, dad bods may be the in thing, but they wont make you an influencer.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
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