Instagram is often accused of being a playground for vanity and self-promotion, so it’s easy to forget that the social media platform that spawned an entirely new career (#spon) can also be used for some good.
Now Instagram are drawing attention to those trying to make a difference by celebrating the UK’s growing community of female visual storytellers with an exhibition. #MyStoryUK drawS together 24 women, including illustrators, activists and entrepreneurs, and features their photos in a new show alongside their words.
Amanda Kelso, Instagram’s Director of Community, said: “Instagram is a place where people come together to find inspiration, connect through shared interests and experience the world through images and videos. MyStoryUK is about celebrating this inspiring community of women. We hope that by sharing their stories, others will be inspired to share theirs too.”
Here you will find names you might already be familiar with, such as the plus-sized model and activist
Iskra Lawrence, as well as women you probably won’t have come across before, including the cyclist Jools Walker.
While they might lack Kardashian-levels of followers, they
are all striving to change the world a little. One post at a time. The Instagram #MyStoryUK pop-up exhibition opens 9 - 10 June.
Unit London, 147-149 Wardour St, London W1F 8WD. Entry is free.
Adwoa Aboah, model and founder of GURLS TALK @adwoaaboah
"My story starts in London. I was born there. I’ve spent most of my life there. It is my home. Instagram has helped me connect to girls all over the world, it has given me a platform to share my story, speak my truths and give other girls the opportunity to do the same."
Lucille Clerc, illustrator @lucille_clerc
"My story reflects my experience as an illustrator between two cultures, being French and living in London. It’s a door to my sketchbook, my personal research and techniques, and a way to raise attention on topics that matter to me."
Mabel McVey, musician @mabelmcvey
"Strong female role models have always been very important to me and my story. When looking at a camera, it isn’t about a man being on the other end, it’s about me. It’s about feeling positive about myself and I want other young women to feel confident about themselves too."
Glacier Girl, activist @glacier996girl
"My story is about raising awareness for climate change and adapting the aesthetic of eco-friendly to appeal to the iGeneration."
@glacier996girl More Story continues
Gill Button, artist @buttonfruit
"I’m a compulsive painter of faces. I seek to portray the confidence and power that people gain through self-adornment, but I always aim to show a hint of inner vulnerability. Instagram is the perfect environment to post my paintings and drawings. It’s fantastic to get an instant reaction to new paintings I’ve been working on, and it spurs me on to keep creating. The community of artists I’m lucky enough to be part of is the most inspirational and supportive I’ve known since leaving art college. It is also amazing that so many international clients find me on Instagram which has given my career a brand new lease of life."
Iskra Lawrence, model @iamiskra
"My story is about showing the world that you can stand up for yourself when trolls or online bullies try and attack you and bring you down. Instagram has completely changed my life, opening up opportunities in my career and allowing me to find my voice. When I began posting honest and un-retouched photos on Instagram, I received hundreds and eventually thousands of supportive messages and comments. I felt more confident about my body and most importantly found a platform I could use to help others who struggle with body image and self-esteem."
Beckie Jane Brown, v logger and artist @BeckieJBrown
"My story is that I battle depression and trichotillomania, where I’m compelled to tear out all my hair. I strive to create more awareness for my disorder, whilst trying to bring hope to other sufferers around the world. I mainly use Instagram to document small but important moments from each day of my life, a combination of sad and uplifting experiences but all important regardless. My main focus is to show others that no matter what conditions or disorders we have, we can have normal lives and be happy."
Nicky Baker, shepherdess @therunningshepherdess
"My story is about a woman working in a predominantly male environment. I hope that it shows that although I may not be as physically strong as the men working on the farm, I am just as capable."
Rachel Siegfried, flower farmer @gandgorgeousflowers
"My story captures a life in flowers on our flower farm in Oxfordshire. I strive to show the changing seasons through ‘palette’ of flowers and foliage that I grow which I use to inspire and create my floral designs. Instagram has helped me to champion British cut flowers and share how we sustainable grow them to produce naturally beautiful and stylish designs which reflect our gardens and landscape."
Jools Walker, cyclist @ladyvelo
"My stories is a narrative of my life on two wheels. Through my combination of positive images and words, I aim to redefine what the stereotype of ‘cycling’ is and use my voice to encourage other women to do the same. Instagram has given me a platform to show diversity in cycling does exist. It allows me to reach other to other everyday women and inspire them to get out there and ride, smash stereotypes along the way and encourage them to share their stories."
Carrie Anne Roberts, entrepreneur @mre.soeur
"My story is about life as a single mother and small business owner. I believe in the power of sisterhood and the importance of sharing stories so I try to stay extremely candid with my posts, exposing the struggles and triumphs of motherhood and the early stages of a creative brand. I’m passionate about forming real connections, celebrating women and throwing out waves of positivity and self-acceptance in order to build a sense of community."
Olivia Bradbury, student @mathsbiochem
"My story captures the changing attitudes towards teenage girls taking traditionally male-dominated subjects in school; showing them that subjects don’t come with a gender."
Viviana Gomez Morales, skateboarder @ViviGomez12
"My story captures the strength and versatility of female skaters. In the world of skateboarding it’s common for a guy to say he’s never seen a girl skateboarder. I hope that my photographs shine a light on the amazing ladies who are out there ripping the streets and encourage other women to get involved."
Sisters Uncut, activists @sistersuncut
"Sisters Uncut is an intersectional feminist direct-action group that campaigns against cuts to domestic violence services in the UK. We often post photos of our actions on Instagram because it’s a way for us to share our demands amongst a wide audience. The further we can spread our message the more we can build a movement and reach people who might not have heard about us otherwise. It’s important that we show our Sisters that we are fighting for and alongside them, and by capturing our actions and sharing them on Instagram people can connect with what we are doing online. There are many women and non-binary people on Instagram who inspire and encourage us."
Munroe Bergdorf, activist and DJ @munroebergdorf
"My story is one of self-empowerment and self-belief. Growing up, there weren’t any aspirational trans women of colour in the media I could relate to, so hopefully through documenting my achievements and experiences I can show younger trans girls and boys that their gender isn’t something that should stand in the way of what they want to accomplish in life."
Helen Downie, artist @Unskilledworker
"My story is about me waking up to painting at the age of 48 and committing and being disciplined to the action. I have learned more about myself through this process than in any other experience in my life. I post my work to Instagram and I consider it finished. At this point I am able to see the work outside of the environment it was created and in doing so, I gain a new perspective. Instagram has cut out the traditional gatekeepers which allows for my work to be seen by a wider audience."
Molly Gunn, entrepreneur @SelfishMother
"My story is since 2011. The year I had my firstborn, Rafferty. The year I was a mixed-up new mum. The year I discovered sanity lay in my sense of self. The year my blogzine and brand Selfish Mother was born. Instagram is a window to Selfish Mother. A way to connect with our likeminded tribe."
Dina Torika, designer and vlogger @dinatokio
"My story is all about inspiring women through style, in particular the Muslim modest dresser that loves expressing her individuality. Deconstructing the stereotype that the woman in a ‘hijab’ is oppressed and reinventing what it means to be a British Muslim woman in today’s society."
Davorka Andjelic, artist @tilly2milly
"I use Instagram as a platform to connect with inspiring and creative people around the world. My main theme is paper dolls, which I make using magazines and newspapers. For me they represent a connection with ‘raw emotion’ to which only children are privileged. They express my emotions of joy, sadness, hope and fear. Because of Instagram I started taking them on my travels and it is truly wonderful to find little corners of the world where they look ‘at home’."
Jaz O’Hara, activist @theworldwidetribe
"My story demonstrates how love and compassion come out on top. Despite the most difficult circumstances, humanity will prevail. My story took me on a journey from working in fashion in London, to living in a refugee camp in Calais, France after a post I wrote about my first visit there went viral. My story is about encouraging and inspiring responsibility and power within each of us to stand up for what we believe and create positive change."
Amber Kirk-Ford, blogger @themilelongbookshelf
"My story is about the importance of literature and how reading the right book can change your life. My aim is to show how fun and brilliant books can be and that they’re not boring, dusty tomes you might remember with dread from school."
Zoe De Pass, activist @dresslikeamum
"Instagram is the place where my DRESS LIKE A MUM CAMPAIGN began. Instagram has helped me reach, connect and meet like-minded mothers and women. The Instagram community is the best – I have built and am part of a strong network of mothers and women who look out for one another and support one another’s businesses, ideas and emotions, while at the same time having fun."
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