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Social media has developed a bad rap for presenting a highly curated and unrealistic slice of life that makes us feel bad about our own messy and all too realistic lives. It’s hard not to go on Instagram sometimes and get stressed out by other people’s perfectly posed snaps.

22-year-old photographer Petra Collins (a contributing photographer for Rookie who has also shot for Urban Outfitters, Italian Vogue, and Vice magazine, and an artist we are big-time fans of here at HG), is out to make sure that Instagram starts reflecting reality, particularly when it comes to reflecting gender. As Marie Claire reports, Collins has teamed up with the app to work on the #MyStory campaign, a hashtag that, starting with Collins, will feature the work of 28 Instagram women whose accounts challenge gender stereotypes and promote inclusivity.

“#MyStory is about creating images for women or female-identifying people that are hopefully more truthful and inclusive,” Collins explained on Instagram’s blog. “I struggled a lot academically when I was a young girl. I was like, ‘Oh I’m not smart so I’ll need to rely on my looks.’ But, everything I was looking at in magazines was from one point of view. I wanted to capture my own life. I wanted to create an outlet and images that felt like ‘Oh, this happened. This is real.’ Creating nostalgia is a way to make a place in the world, to cement my story — or other girls’ stories — in the landscape.”

Collins went on to relate how important it is for girls to see Instagram reflect the world as it really is.

“We live in an image-based world. We’re all constantly bombarded by images, but a lot of them don’t reflect the normal person or girl. And I think the selfie is a really important tool for girls because they can create images of themselves that aren’t the manipulated ones that they see.”

And Collins is determined to use the hashtag to celebrate authenticity. “I don’t want to create some sort of greater version of me. I’ll post photos of my body or me with my acne. When there are images of your natural self out there for other people to see, you just feel more like a human — and other girls can see them and relate. It’s crazy … I get really mean responses, but it’s always really nice to hear people be like, ‘Oh, I have that right now. I can post a photo like you’re posting a photo.’ That’s the best feeling.”’

And the good people of Instagram could not be more excited to give this kind of honesty and gutsiness the platform it deserves.

“Instagram is all about visual storytelling, and women are not only incredible storytellers, but they have really important stories and perspectives to share,” Marne Levine, Instagram COO told Entertainment Weekly. “These images really transcend age, culture, country — no matter what — and people really understand and are able to be motivated and inspired by the different stories that women tell.”

We’re so glad that Collins and Instagram are both tackling gender stereotypes and making the social media platform a more relatable place to be, and we absolutely can’t wait to see the next women featured on #MyStory.


(Images via Instagram)