She’s the rare influencer who lives up to the #NoFilter hype. Danae Mercer, a Dubai-based health and fitness journalist with 788,000 followers on Instagram, is blasting social media with before-and-after images that expose the fakery behind online fame.

Her mantra? If you’ve got it, flaunt it — cellulite, that is. The former editor-in-chief of Women’s Health Middle East has devoted her skin-baring social media platforms to discussing women’s issues, particularly related to body image.

Often beachside and bikini-clad, Mercer’s signature Instagram posts feature side-by-side images of her real, curvy bod versus an intricately staged version in which the 33-year-old influencer appears much slimmer.

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Girl, stop trying to make everyone happy – you’re not guacamole. A popular body positive influencer was shamed recently for wanting to lose weight. Another has been shamed for gaining it. And both openly, authentically stood by their decisions. It got me thinking: what would WE DO different if we were less afraid of BEING different. Not just with our health, our wellness goals, but with our hopes, our dreams, our LIVES? It’s easy to want to MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY. To fit in. To softly and gently bend and fold with whatever voices shout the loudest or sting the sharpest. Whether that’s a parent or a loved one or a stranger on a screen. Only in trying to PLEASE EVERYONE, we become no one. We fade. We lose ourselves. Trust me, I’ve been there. So here’s the lesson I’ve learned the hard way, and am still constantly, endlessly relearning: We will NEVER make everyone happy. We won’t. It’s impossible. Humans are complex. Our opinions are vast and varied and strong. And that’s ok. That’s WONDERFUL. What matters is that we each EXPLORE what sits INSIDE US. That we remain open to growth. To development. To being called in and learning. And that we honour, we ALWAYS honour, the truth which curls quietly inside of us. Whether it’s about how the goals we set FOR OUR BODIES or the plans we have FOR OUR LIVES. Even if it makes us different. Even when it shows how we all truly ARE different. I know it’s scary, but we can do this. You can do this. Be yourself, babygirl. No guacamole required. Influencers mentioned: @learningtobefearless @stephanie_buttermore #selflove #feminist #inspoquote #selfacceptance #normalizenormalbodies

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“LETS talk LIGHTING. Because that’s the main difference in these photos,” she wrote, alongside two images.

“In one, my bum is deliberately angled into the shadows. The softer light hides my cellulite and smooths most of my stretchmarks. It’s flattering,” she explains. “In the other, I’m just casually squatting (lol) beside the mirror. My hips and thighs are in the sunlight. Lumps and bumps are on show.”

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Insta vs reality — or LETS talk LIGHTING. Because that’s the main difference in these photos. In one, my bum is deliberately angled into the shadows. The softer light hides my cellulite and smooths most of my stretchmarks. It’s flattering. In the other, I’m just casually squatting (lol) beside the mirror. My hips and thighs are in the sunlight. Lumps and bumps are on show. There are a few posing differences (core tight, hips popped back, squeeeezzzinnnggg), but mostly this pic is about LIGHT working its magic. When I worked in magazines, we shot at sunrise or sunset. On most sets, there were people holding SUN DIFFUSERS and REFLECTORS to help create the perfect FLATTERING balance of shadow and light. The same thing happens on SOCIAL MEDIA, just in a different form. Most insta-models know EXACTLY how to POSE and work their angles. And they know LIGHTING too. Like how SIDE LIGHT, diffused from a window, is the most flattering for abs but usually pretty harsh on the face. It’s why you’ll often see a phone covering the face. Or how SHADOWS can gently eliminate certain LUMPS and BUMPS. All that is fine with me, honestly. It’s art and photography, and there is no shame in wanting to look FIERCE. But I also want to remind you about how SO MUCH on here is FILTERED. POSED. PERFECTED. And how you shouldn’t EVER COMPARE YOURSELF to a STRANGER on the internet. Because cowgirl, you’re just seeing their snapshots taken in PERFECT LIGHT. Your reality is a whole lot more varied, diverse, and human than that. It’s more perfectly imperfect. Real. Raw. And that’s a wonderful thing indeed. You got this. x #instavsreality #womenirl #womenshealth #popsugarfitness #instagramvsreality #posingtips #cellulite #strengthmarks

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“I’m definitely guilty of knowing my ‘flattering’ poses and only doing those,” one follower admitted in the comments, “so I try to be sure to show the more raw photos as well!”

She continued, “Instagram was starting to have a negative effect on the way I look at myself for a few different reasons (my height, my weight, the fact that my boyfriend loves me but sees this same s–t day in and day out and how do I compete) and you said it exactly … You shouldn’t compare yourself to a stranger on the internet.”

“Basically God put you in my path at the perfect time. I’m awesome the way I am,” she concluded.

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CELLULITE is so darn COMMON. So WEAR that swimsuit. Rock that bikini. Get out there and roll with the full wonder of all that you are. And don’t let any little lumpbumps make you second guess for a single minute. Over 80 percent of women have cellulite. That’s a HUGE number – and yet we are told it’s bad and wrong and subtly, so subtly, taught that it is shameful. Some of us learn these lessons as little girls. Yesterday I shared a YouTube video that wants to teach exactly that. It featured a slight child deciding she was TOO BIG, so she exercised and weighed herself and ate carrots and weighed herself and climbed stairs and weighed herself. Some of us learn these lessons as adults, when brands try to SELL TO US and make money from SHAME. From creating flaws that don’t exist, or from turning incredibly common bits of bodies into things that must be fixed. Wherever you learned these lessons, know that they are wrong. Your cellulite is NOT an error. A glitch in perfection. It’s incredible. Unique. A stamp mark of who you are. A sign that your body is functioning and alive and doing the same thing as over 80% of other women. So today, babygirl, get out there and rock your cellulite. Celebrate your dips and rolls. Embrace your curves or your straights. And most of all, do whatever makes you SMILE. Because you are a GLORIOUS CELEBRATION. A song of limbs and heart and soul. Don’t you forget it. Bikini @heiress_swimwear #selflove #bodyacceptance #normalizenormalbodies #cellulite #strengthmarks

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Mercer, who is in recovery from an eating disorder, uses her YouTube channel to talk in depth about her experience with restricted eating and the stages of recovery.

The self-proclaimed “cat mom” is also a vocal advocate for aging shamelessly.

“I turned 33 yesterday. I’m (still!) not married. Still no babies. Still only one kitty. And I REFUSE to be EMBARRASSED,” she said in a recent post. “Women are taught to feel SO MUCH SHAME around growing older.”

She continued, “Every year we are here, every day we are here, that is a GIFT. I am SO THANKFUL for everything life brought me this year.”


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