Naomi Campbell is TOTALLY not jealous, you guys. TOTALLY. This week, the 44-year-old supermodel slammed younger models who have gotten big through Instagram – a new social media tribe that includes Cara Delevingne, Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss. Vogue dubbed them ‘Instagirls’ and put them on the cover of last year’s September issue. And for the record, Naomi is unimpressed.
‘I mean, good luck to them,’ Naomi said, somewhat unconvincingly, on the Meredith Vieira Show. ‘I just feel like my generation of women – like Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Claudia [Schiffer] – we had to earn our stripes and take our stepping stones to get to where we have gotten to accomplish what we have achieved to this date. I kind of feel like, “My God, we've worked so hard, and we are still working at it.” Then it just comes like that for them, but I sometimes believe easy come, easy go.’
Ouch. Pretty damning words for Cara, Joan and Karlie – though somehow I think they’re too busy managing their combined follower count of 11.3 million to cry themselves to sleep. Like it or not, Instagram has become the de facto hunting ground for modelling agencies, along with a crucial way for would-be stars to get their names out.
You just need to look at Marc by Marc Jacobs for proof: for the past two seasons, they’ve been casting their campaign through Instagram and Twitter. All people needed to do was tag a selfie with #castmemarc to be in with a chance. Just this month, IMG Models – which represents Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Karlie Kloss – launched the We Love Your Genes model search. Post a pic with #WYLG, and IMG promises that scouting agents will decide if you’re model material. The hashtag has already been used over 61,000 times on Instagram.
But getting scouted on Instagram does not an Instagirl make. Here’s a question: what makes you hit ‘follow’ on one fashion blogger’s profile and not someone else? It’s that magic combo of charm, personality and great selfie skills – and not every wannabe Aimee Song has the gift. The same goes for models.
‘I think there are a lot of models that don’t understand it,’ newly-crowned Victoria’s Secret angel Gigi Hadid said (1.7 million followers and counting). ‘Companies are going to look at your following and your ability to connect to different age groups and different people. If you can connect to a lot of people by just being relatable and by showing people different sides of your life… then you’re going to be able to represent a brand because you have a voice and that’s what brands are looking for.’
Imagine how long you take to compose an OOTD pic for your account. Now imagine that all of your future employers will be looking at that photo, totting up the number of likes and comments and using that as your online CV. It’s enough to make you delete the camera app off your phone, right?
Even Insta-success comes with its downsides. Opening your life up – even a highly curated version of it – has a tendency to foster false intimacy. Take Lucky Blue Smith, CK One’s bleached blond pin-up. He has well below Cara’s 9.3 million followers, but he shut down traffic in Paris when he staged an impromptu meet-and-greet for his Instagram followers. A girl passed out in the street after he hugged her.
‘I get about 150 direct messages a day on Instagram,’ he told Business of Fashion. They’re all from girls. He never replies. ‘I don’t want to disappoint them by not replying, but if I did reply to all of them I’d never have time for anything else.’
The lesson? The Instagirls (and some Instaboys) might make this shit look easy, but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface. If you look closer, you’ll usually see a model paddling furiously, trying to keep up.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.