Leanne Maskell is the author of The Model Manifesto, an A to Z anti-exploitation manual to the fashion industry which aims to educate current and aspiring models on how to find success and avoid the pitfalls of physical, financial, and emotional exploitation.
The book’s advice covers essential topics every model needs to know including: finding the right agency, creating a portfolio, understanding tax, working aboard, the role of social media, avoiding hidden agency expenses and knowing your own legal rights.
The Instagram Mental Health Crisis
Ex-model Leanne Maskell shares her advice on staying sane in the world of Instagram and protecting your mental health:
Words: Leanne Maskell / Book Cover Photography: Rankin
It is not revolutionary news that social media is bad for our mental health. It is purposefully designed to be addictive and feeds on our insecurities. Insta-success is a glass ceiling, where no amount of followers, likes or views will be enough, as there will always be someone to compare yourself to. However, it’s also becoming increasingly difficult to live without Instagram, with everyone using it meaning that the fear of missing out is very real.
As a model, I have been regularly portrayed online as someone with a perfect body and life - usually images which have been photoshopped and leave me comparing myself to this perfected version of me!
Here are my top tips on protecting your mind on social media:
1.Disassociate from how many followers you have.
Our followers are an imaginary audience in our mind, who we subconsciously play up to. The more we accumulate, the more important our Instagram becomes - our own personal soapbox to the world. Avoid buying followers (which is extremely easy to do) and try not to think about how many people may or may not be viewing what you ate for breakfast.
2. Delete your Instagram.
The best way I disassociate from my imaginary audience, is to delete it all together from time to time. I sometimes find myself so addicted to Instagram that I end up deleting the entire account. This is a brilliant (if extreme) way of remembering that how many people follow you really doesn’t matter at all.
A more moderate approach is to delete the app off your phone. iPhones now have ‘Screen Time’ technology to keep us updated on how many hours we are wasting away, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll automatically put in the password and continue scrolling. Make it harder for yourself to do this by forcing yourself to re-download Instagram each time you want to use it.
3. Unfollow or mute anyone that doesn’t make you feel happy.
I have had to mute most of my friend’s ‘stories’ because I don’t want to feel jealous of them. Notice how different accounts make you feel, and if it is anything less than super-happy, then unfollow them. Avoid any apps that tell you who has unfollowed you - it’s not something you need to stress yourself with!
4. Use time limits.
Give yourself specific times each day to go on Instagram and stick to them. Invest in an alarm clock and charge your phone in a different room when sleeping. Ideally, go on the app to use it mindfully for 10 minutes, then delete it again.
5. Remember that none of it is real.
Instagram is a highlights-reel, to which we compare our reality. Fake followers & likes, apps that can clear up skin and drop dress sizes, expensive photograph-filter software and constant advertisements mean that only a tiny percentage of what we see is real.
Ultimately, the best way to use Instagram is mindfully. Remember that you are SO much more than your Instagram.
Leanne Maskell is the author of The Model Manifesto, an anti-exploitation manual for the fashion industry, out 02 May 2019 and priced at £14.99. For more information go to www.themodelmanifesto.com or follow @themodelmanifesto