There’s nothing wrong with posing for a photo, but the popular ‘flamingo’ pose highlights a problem with body image on social media
Scroll through your Instagram feed right now and you’re bound to spot one of the many poses discussed on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Monday. You might even have pulled a ‘flamingo’ or a ‘teapot’ yourself.
Host Emma Barnett chatted to photographer Michaela Efford about Instagram’s most popular poses, and the discussion brought some of the troubling reality about body image and social media to light.
The ‘flamingo’ is when a person keeps the back leg straight and bends the one in front, while the ‘teapot’ is when someone pushes their chest out and puts a hand on their hip.
Barnett read out a message from a listener who said millennials have been “brainwashed” to think “thin is best” and that pulling an S shape with your body “makes you look thinner”.
Another listener said she was “horrified” to be taught the ‘flamingo’ pose. “I don’t think we see any guys doing this – making themselves seem smaller,” she questioned.
Efford agreed that the main reason the poses are popular is because they “basically make us look taller and thinner in photos”. She also said that “everyone”– including men – wants to look taller, which is why she regularly shoots photos of them from a very low angle.
When Barnett asked why people tell her that pulling a ‘teapot’ pose would maker her look ‘better’, Efford admitted: “It gives us a slimmer waist, basically… The teapot is meant to make us look, again, slimmer.”
A 2018 study published by the US National Library of Medicine found a correlation between time spent on social media, negative body image, and disordered eating.
And it’s not just women: NHS studies have shown that 57% of young men felt pressured by social media to look good.
In a digital age where ‘comparison culture’ is rife, the reason behind the rise of the ‘flamingo’ is perhaps an unsurprising yet somewhat worrying explanation.
Listen to the full conversation on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour via BBC Sounds.