U.K.-based model Stina Sanders is an Instagram sensation.
Sanders made headlines recently when she dumped the airbrushed, artificial images to show the manufactured side of modeling. She replaced her glamour shots with “real life” double chin, hair removal and IBS treatment images.
Response to the social experiment was mixed. She initially lost thousands of followers, but gained the interest and appreciation of people around the world who support her message.
I reached out to Sanders after news and images of the experiment went viral to ask about her message, advice for parents, and her next moves:
Q. What were you trying to accomplish by posting these “real” images?
A. All my life I have been judged because of my career. I like social media but it concerns me that young girls are looking up to their idols not realizing how contrived their images are. They’re unrealistic, and I’m sure it’s caused plenty of people, especially young girls, a lot of issues, simply because they feel they are not as good as the standard they see online.
Q. How does it feel to know that your message is resonating with so many people?
A. I think it’s fantastic that it’s given people the confidence to come forward and say ‘I’m tired of this bullshit, too. Let’s just be real.’ People have thanked me, especially over the photo I shared where I had just finished my psychotherapy session. So many people suffer, yet no one talks about it enough. The irony is, talking is the best cure. At the end of the day, we’re all human and we all have flaws and believe it or not, body hair. We need to stop pretending that being perfect is real.
Q. What steps might someone take to be more authentic online?
A. I think if you create a life that isn’t really yours, then you’re always going to be found out in the end. The only person you can be is you. I think we also need to all remember that social media isn’t real.
Q. As a parent, your message is really important to me and probably to a lot of other parents. What advice would you give parents raising girls or boys about social media and life online?
A. It’s interesting because a lot of parents have reached out to me. I think they didn’t realize how fake social media can be, and how poisonous it is for young children and teenagers.
I remember being really tiny and meeting a celebrity for the first time, and I got really excited about it to the point where I thought I would faint. It was my dad who reminded me to calm down and that ‘We all poop!’ That stuck with me. I think it’s important to make children aware that we’re all human.
Q. How do you think this will change anything for you professionally moving forward?
A. As much as I love modeling, my real passion is writing. I want to write articles that make people feel happy, not alone.
Check out Stina Sanders’ blog at stinasanders.com and follow her on Instagram at @stinasanders.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.