Presenting #Instafakes

What you see is not always what you get

I did it! Just a few days after we launched this site dedicated to the good in fashion, I was invited to speak to a conference on women and empowerment online for International Women’s Day. So on Saturday, I stood up in front of a group of women of all ages and introduced them to the idea that what you see isn’t always what you get online -- whether because of Photoshop or because life just isn’t as magical as it sometimes appears onscreen.

As I was putting the presentation together, I found myself less interested in talking about the topic of “falsity” in social media and way more interested in presenting thoughtful and constructive examples of campaigns that empower women through positive body images and real-life fashion in action. As soon as I started digging, I came up with one example after the other of supportive women who embraced their imperfections and openly addressed the impact positive role models have on them.

The official runway look, taken from Fleshman's Instagram account, @fleshmanflyer

The official runway look, taken from Fleshman's Instagram account, @fleshmanflyer

One campaign that I’d seen already back in 2014 that left a lasting impression was the #keepitreal challenge started by Lauren Fleshman. An Olympic runner, Fleshman was seen as the epitome of fitness when she was invited by Oiselle to walk the runway at #NYFW to display their new collection. CEO Sally Bergesen explained it by saying:

 "Sport could use more fashion, and fashion could use more muscles."

The problem? Three months before, she had given birth. Though her body looked amazing on the runway, she said it didn’t reflect the reality of her post-partum body, so a few months later, she posted images of herself during training. In these latter photos, her super taut abs were gone and a stomach that rolled over the top of her shorts waistband were in their place. It seemed to have inspired other women, as there’s now a group of women who are proud to work out in their sports bra, no matter the state of their stomach.

Fleshman’s example was one of many that I looked at in-depth to see how important it is for readers and consumers to see both positive role models and fashion in action. I'll tell you about a few more in the weeks to come ... because we could all use a lot more aspirational reality in our Insta-feeds and there's a lot of women setting an uplifting tone by being themselves online. ct