A model claims she lost thousands of followers by replacing selfies and modelling shots with more honest pictures of herself and day to day life.
Stina Sanders, a London-based model and fashion blogger, has posed for campaigns such as Lynx, Loreal and Nike and amassed thousands of followers on Instagram in the process.
Sanders was approached by The Daily Mail to take part in an experiment looking at how her followers would react to more “unglamorous” pictures. The experiment follows the former Instagram model Essena O’Neill’s decision to quit social media after revealing many of her photos were sponsored or contrived. Her departure has sparked calls for ‘honest pictures’ and a number of social media influencers followed suit by sharing unedited images.
As part of the experiment, Sanders posted pictures of herself bleaching facial hair, before undergoing a colonic irrigation, with chipped nails and without having a shower.
In another, she shared a selfie from inside a Harley Street clinic where she has been undergoing psychotherapy sessions for anxiety.
In a caption with the picture, Sanders wrote: “Harley Street isn't just to fix your nose or your boobs - You can also fix your mind!
“I've just finished an intense two month psychotherapy session to sort out my anxiety issues. It's been over two weeks since my last panic attack. Depression and anxiety isn't something to hide away from. Get talking!”
The 24-year-old told The Independent: “I was up for the challenge because I know how fake social media is and how a simple photo can portray someone in a completely different light. Unfortunately having the model stigma attached to me hasn’t been easy, so I wanted to reveal what life is really is behind the mask. My life isn’t as pretty as it seems - I suffer from anxiety and have a disabled sibling. No one’s life is perfect.”
But Sanders was surprised to find she lost thousands of followers after selfies, bikini shots and images of exotic locations were replaced with photos portraying the less glamorous aspects of her day.
'Thought I'd post you a photo before my pedi! Anyone who wants to take up running, I'd advise you not to. My toe nails are falling off, I have swollen ankles and disfigured toes. Delicious!'
“During the experiment I lost 3,000 followers and come the end, I had lost 5,000," she said. "I was shocked because I actually thought it would be the likes that would dramatically reduce and not the followers.
“What was interesting was I had more likes from women, whereas it is usually split, and all my comments were mostly from girls. It was evident that they wanted to reach out to me because they could relate in one way or another.
“Take the psychotherapy image, for example; so many people praised me for talking openly about it. I had lots of people thank me because they had felt alone and just needed the reassurance to know that lots of people are suffering too."
She said the experiment highlighted how social media can have a negative effect on young girls and models by reinforcing the drive for perfection.
“It’s only human nature to compare yourself to others, but this is why social media can be poisonous, especially to young girls. I’m in the modeling industry and have seen even the most beautiful women with cellulite and acne. It doesn’t stress me out but it does concern me that girls have unrealistic goals because even their idols that they look up to aren’t exactly as they seem.”
'Oh the IBS is bad! So it's colonic irrigation time'
However, the more positive responses from followers and women demonstrated that social media can also be a valuable channel for young people.
“That reaction made me realise the beauty of social media - its such a great communication tool, especially when it's used in the right way. Talking is a great cure!”
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