“I take a selfie: bed hair, no makeup. I tap “Impression” and my face changes quickly and dramatically: fine lines flatten, wrinkles smooth out, blemishes unblemish, dark circles disappear, cheekbones rise, eyes brighten, lips get bigger, nose gets smaller. My face is gone. Staring back at me, wearing my clothes, sitting in my bed, is a stranger. Or, perhaps more accurately: it’s my perfect self. I feel horrified by how much my face changes.”
Instagram scroll after Instagram scroll, we’re faced with flawless images that prompt reactions ranging from cynicism to fascination and even downright envy. It’s no wonder, then, that 32-year-old Carolyn Stritch of @TheSlowTraveler took it upon herself to teach her over 199,000 followers a lesson about the authenticity of social media – or lack thereof.
The UK-based travel blogger and influencer recently “hacked” her own Instagram account as part of a project for her ongoing degree in photography. First, Stritch used FaceApp to morph into her perfect self. Her alter ego (who happened to be ten years younger than she is) then flew from Newcastle Upon Tyne to California for the day and managed to pose all alone in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland – and not one of her followers questioned any of it.
Two manipulated images and carefully captioned posts on Instagram later, the Instagrammer took to her personal blog to reveal the truth about why she had faked both her personal appearance and the trip, urging people to consider the dark side of social media. “For me, Instagram is a positive experience. But I know that’s not the case for a lot of people. Instagram is apparently full of these ‘slim, prosperous, happy, extroverted, and popular’ people – a bit like my perfect self. I wanted my fictional narrative to challenge the way I portray myself online and the effects of this portrayal,” she wrote.
When’s the last time you questioned what you saw online?
Tomorrow, I’m going to be 22! I’m treating myself with a trip to Californ-I-ay: I’m off to Disneyland to Instagram the hell out of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. I’ll be putting myself to bed nice and early tonight: I’m flying tomorrow and coming home Monday (need a magic carpet, not an aeroplane). I’ll be by myself, but so what? It’ll be my very own fairytale. Human possibilities vastly exceed our imagination!
I’ve taken myself off to California. There I am in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – my crazy, self-indulgent 22nd birthday present to myself. Tomorrow I’ll be back home and it’ll be like it never even happened! I keep saying to myself: it’s kind of fun to do the impossible. Life is what you make it!
I’m not feeling entirely myself after that trip. Strange. Tomorrow I’ll share a blog post telling you all about it. It’s not every day you get to say: “I’m going to be 22 and I’m taking my self to Disneyland.” Well, back to reality. Hard to believe that just yesterday I was standing alone outside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. But I’ll always have The Image.