Making a career out of a hobby might look easy, but living the dream online comes at a cost. Six influencers reveal what it’s like to be a woman on Instagram, and the truth behind their artfully stylised feeds

Interviews and portraits by Sophie Wedgwood

In her 1970s book On Photography, Susan Sontag describes the role of the camera in everyday life as a means to construct “a portrait-chronicle of itself – a portable kit of images that bears witness to its connectedness”. She could, of course, be talking about Instagram in 2017, except that we are becoming increasingly less connected to the images themselves. Through filters, colour washes and crops, the images we post can be little more than projections of how we want to be seen by the outside world; an ideal self. And in many cases this image bears only a passing resemblance to the reality.

But what happens when Instagram becomes more than just a pastime? When it becomes a way to make a living? What happens when your followers start to objectify you, or your friends unfollow you because of what you post, or it starts to affect your mental health? What happens when you realise you’ve become “content”? Do you stop? Do you heck. From the biomedical scientist who tries to balance university life with makeup posts to the model who is asked to promote slimming pills, Instagram has a very real, often dark side. And these women should know. Morwenna Ferrier

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