In her bid to become an Instagram celebrity, Calverio was working for an internship programme which only covered her transportation costs, and so to feed her Insta habit she began surviving on her savings and salary from a part-time retail job. “I was shopping… for clothes to take the perfect ‘gram,” she told the New York Post, “I was living a lie and debt was looming over my head.”
The now-26-year-old soon spiralled into the red after $200 (£145) shopping sprees (so she wouldn’t been seen on Insta in the same outfit twice), $1,000 (£721) designer handbags and even travelling to a new exotic destination every month for a whole year, all for the ‘gram.
After bagging a job in PR, Lissette got a severe bump back to reality, and began changing her spending habits in order to gain control of her finances. By slowing her Instagram activity, reducing her rent by moving in with a friend, and sticking to a strict weekly grocery budget, Lissette managed to dig herself out of debt in just 14 months.
Lissette’s predicament isn’t a hard one to understand. We all know it is the job of an Instagrammer to sell a particular lifestyle. You want their holiday, their handbag, their boyfriend. But according to Fashionista the cost of “maintain[ing] the standards of physical beauty represented daily in our Instagram feeds” is actually around $31,400 a year (£22,661). Her story is nothing unusual – plenty of people buy into the dream. Layers of Chic blogger Mary Gui recently revealed when she first started pursuing the platform as a possible full-time career, she was using nearly $3,000 (£2,163) of her own savings per month, and only made up to $100 (£72) per post.
Just like any business start-up, being a full-time influencer requires a substantial amount of money to get on your feet, but there is a certain cloaked pressure that comes with the territory. It’s sold to us that Instagram life is an easy one – all you need is a well-stocked wardrobe, a nice camera, a lot of a free time to edit, a good figure, a modest following, a cute boyfriend, a few holiday destinations, a few hundred coffee shops to frequent and you can make it big. Easy.
A report created by the Royal Society for Public Health entitled #StatusOfMind recently revealed the surmounting pressure to present a captivating social media presence stems from constantly seeing influencers on enjoying holidays and nights out and nice food, creating a ‘compare and despair’ attitude. The comparisons which are drawn between their own lives and that of the influencer has a potentially damaging impact of self-esteem, body image and anxiety – and in Lissette’s case, a huge amount of debt.
Of course, social media has its positives, too – a place for self-expression and self-love, a place for inspiration. But perhaps this is an important reminder to stay grounded in reality. Instagram’s filter goes further than just the carefully curated colours you see on your screen, and that probably needs to be considered before we all go quitting our jobs for that influencer lifestyle.
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