Sammy Nickalls
November 20, 2015 9:59 am

Earlier this month, when teen Instagram star Essena O’Neill decided to quit social media for good and tell the truth about her “candid” shots for the sake of her own mental health and happiness, she started a social media revolution, inspiring us all to consider the effect platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have on our wellbeing. And now, a London model has decided to take a page out of Essena’s book in the best way possible.

Stina Sanders, 24, has posed for magazines like FHM and Maxim, and up until recently, her Instagram feed was filled with glamour shots taken during shoots in tropical locations.

But lately, she decided to change it up and start posting pictures of her everyday life — the process behind those selfies and beauty shots. “I wanted to see what would actually happen if I stopped posting glamorous photos, and shared stuff that you wouldn’t normally even share with your friends, stuff that is taboo, stuff that was quite crude, all that kind of stuff,” Stina told People. “Personally I think Instagram is so fake – the amount of filters, the airbrushing – so I thought it would be interesting.”

Tina swapped out the glam shots for pictures of her getting IBS treatment and waxing hair off her upper lip. “Normally I would use a filter or an airbrushing app, so I made sure I really didn’t do that,” she told People. “Most of them I didn’t have on any makeup or my hair was disheveled, and no filters were used at all.”

At first, her efforts to keep it real lost her thousands of followers — from 13,000 to under 10,000. “I thought that my followers would remain the same but I would get no likes, but the total opposite happened,” she told People. “I had an influx of likes, but I had a massive decrease of followers.”

She started getting a lot of comments from women saying they could relate, but barely anything from men. “To see a photo of my bowel movements and not me in a bikini must have annoyed a lot of them,” Stina told The Tab. “It’s that kind of ‘I didn’t sign up for this’ attitude. Perhaps sharing my real life was too much for them.”

Stina also used her experiment to shed light on mental illness and mental health by posting a picture of her going to a psychotherapy session. “I had just finished a gruelling two-month session and not only felt pleased with myself, I felt it would help others to realize that there is help out there,” she told The Tab. “I’ve blogged about my anxiety issues before and knew that there is a definite gap to fill in terms of talking openly about depression. So many people suffer – celebrities and just every day people – it’s silly that only recently, as a society, we’ve only just recognized the importance of understanding mental illness and the issues that it brings.”

Though Stina has decided to portray an unedited, raw, real version of herself on social media, she explained to the Huffington Post that she can understand why some wouldn’t like it. “People don’t want to see reality because they see that every day,” she said. “Plus people want inspiration. It’s only human to look at others and want the same, if not better.”

However, it turns out that many would prefer real life over the Instagram-filtered version, because Stina’s follower count has since skyrocketed to almost 39,000 — and for a great reason. Thanks for being willing to openly display the reality behind the picture-perfect Instagram shot. You rock, Stina.

(Images via Instagram.)

Related:

How an Instagram star is responding to body-shaming

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