I’ve written a couple of posts about Influencers and fake followers on here. One discussed whether we should name and shame those who do it and the other pointed out five ways to spot those who partake in the act. But now I’m going to write about another aspect of fakery that Influencers carry out: faking their images.
I’m not talking about FaceTuning their faces or altering their waists to appear slimmer. I’m talking about Photoshopping themselves into locations that they have actually never been to. Adding in objects that were never there in the first place. Removing the public from their images to make themselves the only focus.
Often on this blog I’ve complained about Instagram and how fake it is. Everyone shows their best lives on Instagram and only their best images. You have no idea how many shots it took to get that image, the lengths they had to go to get the angle or how many times the person has edited it. But the effects of social media on our mental health has been widely talked about and we know to take these ‘perfect’ looking images of people with a pinch of salt. However, in this post, I won’t be talking about these girls with bodies to die for or flawless faces.
Below I’m going to go through three Influencers that have been called out in the news or on social media because of their doctored images.
1. Amelia Liana (512,000 followers)
A few people started to notice certain aspects of Amelia’s Instagram images that just didn’t seem to add up. There was an image of Amelia looking out at the New York skyline from the top of the Rockerfeller Center, but it appeared the Freedom Tower was missing, even though the image was taken years after the tower had been erected.
Then there were the images from her trip to India. She appeared to be the only tourist at the front of the Taj Mahal. Where was everyone else? And it also appeared she had contorted the reflection of the Taj Mahal in the water in order for it to fit. Is it ethical to edit reality?
Many news sites covered the story including the Daily Mail, The Times and Refinery 29. Amelia couldn’t ignore the backlash and later posted a blog about her ‘Image Principles’ which outlined that she merely fixed some lighting. Hmm… just the lighting? If these images, along with a few others that appear to be re-imposed are following ‘guidelines’, how can we trust that any of the images that this blogger posts are authentic when it isn’t made clear that they have been tampered with?
If we can’t trust the Influencer, can they still influence us?
2. Carolyn Stritch (222,000 followers)
How would you like to go on holiday without even leaving the comfort of your sofa? That’s exactly what this Instagrammer did.
Carolyn Photoshopped herself into an image of Disneyland, California she found online and posted it to make it appear that she was there in real time – a 22nd birthday present to herself, as one would. And her followers believed it. According to Carolyn, it was an experiment to see how believable fake images are on Instagram and to show that we can’t believe everything we see on the platform.
Carolyn also wrote that many of her images were staged and contorted and didn’t seem to have a problem in telling her followers so, “Is it bad to do those things? I don’t know?” – Is it bad to lie to your followers and make them envious of an idealistic situation that isn’t even real?! YES.
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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!
Would I have believed this image was real? Yes. Apart from the lack of people – I mean, when has Disneyland ever been that quiet? But I wouldn’t be able to notice any doctoring or cut-out lines whatsoever. Maybe the next Influencer we look at could learn a few things from Carolyn.
3. Johanna Olssen (533,000 followers)
Now, you would think with almost half a million followers that Johanna would know not to post anything that looked even slightly Photoshopped, never mind a blind person being able to see how Photoshopped these images are.
The below image is probably the worst example from Johanna’s Instagram and I don’t even know why she hasn’t deleted the image as she’s removed all comments from the post. I mean, she looks like a Sims character for crying out loud.
And to top it all off… IT’S AN ADVERT. I mean come onnnnnnnnnnnn. I can’t put my frustration into words. Think how much she was paid for this post. Johanna has almost half a million followers. And this is what the Pretty Little Thing team accepted as an advertisement?!
Even when scrolling through all of her recent images, I’m sat with my face in my laptop screen to see if I can notice any traces of Photoshop as I just don’t believe any of her images can be real.
Johanna (unbelievably) has posted Instagram stories to talk about the Paris images and she fully admits that she Photoshopped the images that she had to take for collaborations as she was too busy and it was raining too much to get the perfect picture. The worst part? She finds the whole thing hilarious and laughs throughout. I reckon I could do a much better job at Photoshop (as seen below) but I don’t get paid thousands for the pleasure of posting it to my Instagram account.
So what’s worse? Fake followers or fake images?
I really can’t differentiate between the two. On both accounts, the Influencer is lying to their followers and the brands that they work with. The Influencer can gain more work from having more followers, but neither are ethical and betray the follower’s trust.
How are we able to believe anything we see on Instagram anymore? All of us are pining after these bloggers’ lifestyles and wishing our lives could be as perfect and luxurious as theirs, but are they really that perfect? Are they even real?