Woman racks up $10,000 debt after trying to become 'Instagram famous'

She would spend thousands on clothes just to show them off to her followers

Sarah Young
Monday 05 March 2018 10:56 GMT
The quest to get the perfect selfie could have deadly consequences 
The quest to get the perfect selfie could have deadly consequences 

A woman has revealed how trying to become a social media star left her in financial ruin.

Lissette Calveiro, who is now 26-years-old, moved to New York from Miami for an internship in 2013 and said she felt like she was living the “Sex and the City Dream.”

But while her life on Instagram might have looked glamorous thanks to never-ending brunches, expensive outfits and holidays, she was struggling financially.

Calveiro’s internship only paid for transportation so she began living off her savings and earnings from a part-time retail job.

But, even after moving back to Miami later that year and landing a job as a full-time publicist, her Instagram-worthy life continued to sink her into debt, $10,000 (£7,256) worth to be exact.

“I was shopping...for clothes to take ‘the perfect ’gram”, she told the New York Post.

“I was living above my means. I was living a lie and debt was looming over my head.”

Despite earning a low-to-mid five figure salary in 2016, Calveiro admits that she continued to get into more debt by treating herself to monthly $200 (£145) shopping sprees so she wouldn’t be seen in the same outfit twice, spending as much as $1,000 (£725) on designer handbags, and travelling to new locations every single month.

“Snapchat had these [geo-] filters [like digital passport stamps] and I wanted to collect at least 12,” Calveiro said.

“If you break it down, a lot of the travel I was doing in 2016 was strictly for Instagram.”

But the social media wannabe got a much-needed reality check at the end of that year when she landed a PR job in Manhattan.

“I knew that moving to New York, I had to get my act together or I wasn’t going to survive,” she said.

Calveiro quickly changed her spending habits by slowing down her Instagram activity, moving in with a friend where her rent was $700 (£500) a month and giving herself a weekly grocery budget of $35 (£25).

Just 14 months later, she was finally able to pay off her debt but, despite cutting back on expenses, she admits to still forking out $130 (£95) for a Rent the Runway monthly membership - an online service that provides designer dress and accessory rentals.

Now living in Soho, Calveiro says she regrets spending so much money trying to live an Instagram-worthy life and is concerned about the impact the photo sharing platform can have on young women.

“Nobody talks about [his or her] finances on Instagram,” she said.

“It worries me how much I see girls care about image.

“I had a lot of opportunities to save. I could’ve invested that money in something.”

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Tanya Goodin, author of OFF. Your Digital Detox for a Better Life said, “We know that spending too much time on social media can have a negative effect on mental health and this is just another example of how the relentless pressure have a perfect ‘Instagrammable’ life can get seriously out of hand and cause real problems in real life.”

Niamh McDade, Royal Society for Public Health policy lead on social media and mental wellbeing added: “Lisette’s case is an extreme example of the consequences of the pressure which many of us who use social media feel to present a carefully curated, aspirational version of ourselves and our lives online – a version that does not necessarily reflect reality.

“As revealed by our #StatusOfMind report, this pressure can be a result of seeing friends and social media ‘influencers’ seemingly constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out, creating feelings of missing out and a ‘compare and despair’ attitude.

"With the endless influx of images and videos shared on platforms such as Instagram, young people can be drawn into comparisons with their own lives with potentially negative impacts on self-esteem, body image, anxiety and depression – and in this case, huge debt.

“Social media has many potential positives, including expressing identity and maintaining human connections, but if we are to maximise these positives and mitigate the negatives, it is important to remember that Instagram identities do not present a full or accurate representation of reality.”

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