Model Who Lost Thousands of Instagram Followers After Posting Realistic Photos Speaks Out

Things got a little too real for Insta.

Instagram model Essena O'Neill blew up the Internet (opens in new tab) when she decided to quit social media because she felt she was living a lie. To test the theory that Instagram is just a bunch of pretty filters and doctored images, London-based model Stina Sanders decided to spend a week just posting untouched (opens in new tab) and #superreal photos of herself. She flooded her popular Instagram with photos of things like bleaching her facial hair in the shower, her feet with toe nails falling off (due to running), and before a colonic irrigation. Like I said, #superreal.

The response? Not so great. Sanders claims she lost thousands of followers, The Independent reports (opens in new tab).  

Now, she's speaking out about how social media can affect young women in a very negative way.

"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," she continued.

So, maybe she lost some followers, but the ones who stayed are the ones who matter? And it sounds like, for the most part, Sanders agrees with that sentiment. 

"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."

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A post shared by STINA SANDERS (@stinasanders) (opens in new tab)

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Laura Beck
Laura Beck

I write on Fox’s THE GREAT NORTH. Before that, I wrote and edited for Cosmopolitan (opens in new tab) magazine and the Jezebel (opens in new tab) blog. My writing has also appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire, VICE, Marie Claire, McSweeney’s, California Sunday, BUST, Elle, Village Voice, Harper’s Bazaar, LA Weekly, Eater, Fast Company, Mic, Atlas Obscura, and more. I co-host/co-produce a comedy/storytelling (opens in new tab) show on the first Friday of every month at Stories in LA. I have a degree in Film and TV from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.