"I kinda love when people do real vs produced shots," she said at the time. It's a trend among body positivity advocates on Instagram, who often use the images to point out how differently a body can look under the right lighting and angle. "Don't let someone else's body put yours down," Patrick wrote.
Now, she's reiterating that point with PEOPLE, explaining that she wanted to post the photos so that people on Instagram have a better sense of what bodies look like when they aren't posed to look thinner or more muscular.
"I think there’s a yearning in the world for real," Patrick told PEOPLE. "People really want to know the truth."
Platforms like Instagram give her the opportunity to talk to her fans and show what her real body looks like. "But the reality is I can hold a camera out in front of me and turn in a circle until I find the right lighting and find my best angle," she said. "And I can adjust my clothes to make sure that I just look as good as possible.”
In May, a study found that Instagram was the worst social media app for young people's mental health, partially because of body image. "It’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing," Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the RSPH, said at the time. "Both platforms are very image-focused and it appears that they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people."
As Cramer said, Instagram is image-driven and that's why we need photos like the one Danica Patrick posted, so that young people see what bodies look like when they're not posed. We also need images of plus size women, and differently abled women, and of stretch marks, and all other versions of bodies. Because when you see a body that looks like yours, it feels a little less lonely to be in your skin.
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