"I was living a lie and debt was looming over my head."
It’s easy to see why one would want to emulate the lives of Instagram influencers.
After all, they get to travel to glamorous locations, wear designer clothing, and often get paid to promote the coolest brands. But, as one 26-year-old woman from Miami recently learned, becoming a social media star is much harder, and more expensive, than you think.
According to the New York Post, becoming an Instagram celeb has put Lissette Calveiro $10,000 in debt. How? The influencer wannabe told the newspaper this is how much her clothing and travel budget cost to get those ‘gram-worthy photos and gain her those 23,000 followers.
"I was shopping...for clothes to take the perfect 'gram," Calveiro told the Post. "I was living above my means. I was living a lie and debt was looming over my head."
Calveiro added that despite the fact that she was in debt she still gave herself a $200 monthly shopping budget to ensure her followers never saw the same outfit twice. Moreover, she’d often find herself spending as much as $1,000 on designer goods and traveling to new locations to snap her pics.
"Snapchat had these [geo] filters [like digital passport stamps] and I wanted to collect at least 12," Calveiro said in the interview. "If you break it down, a lot of the travel I was doing in 2016 was strictly for Instagram."
However, after landing a public relations job in New York City she said she slowed down her Instagram habits because she needed to pay for rent and food instead.
"Nobody talks about [his or her] finances on Instagram," she said. "It worries me how much I see girls care about image. I had a lot of opportunities to save. I could've invested that money in something."
Though Calveiro’s story may seem extreme, it’s not as rare as one may think.
"We know that spending too much time on social media can have a negative effect on mental health and this is just another example of how the relentless pressure to have a perfect 'Instagrammable' life can get seriously out of hand and cause real problems in real life,” Tanya Goodin, author of "OFF: Your Digital Detox for a Better Life," told the Independent.
And as Niamh McDade, Royal Society for Public Health's policy lead on social media and mental wellbeing, added: "With the endless influx of images and videos shared on platforms such as Instagram, young people can be drawn into comparisons with their own lives with potentially negative impacts on self-esteem, body image, anxiety, and depression — and in this case, huge debt.”
It’s key, McDade noted, to remember that social media does have many potential positives, “but if we are to maximize these positives and mitigate the negatives, it is important to remember that Instagram identities do not present a full or accurate representation of reality."
So next time you go on Instagram and see a perfectly posed photo, remember that image probably took hours — and hundreds of dollars — to create.