Many Instagram models spend their lives curating the perfect aspirational online presence across social media, so us mere mortals can all look upon their false reality and despair at our own.
But Australian Instagram model and sustainable fitness brand founder, Pia Muehlenbeck, has decided to shatter the illusion constructed during long days on perfectly posed photoshoots.
The SLINKII boutique owner and social influencer has shown her refreshingly self-deprecating spirit by sharing candid bikini photographs with her followers.
In an attempt to achieve the artfully shot image of zen and tranquillity you can see via her Instagram page, Pia had to overcome the elements along the way.
Posing on a beach in the Maldives to advertise Fyre Festival, things weren’t always as glamorous as they seemed for the the self-confessed ‘goofball’ – particularly when she was washed up by the ocean.
Speaking exclusively to UNILAD, Pia explained:
I think people often feel you should act a certain way, but I’m a goofball, and if something funny happens I’d rather be real and post it.
It’s very easy to get sucked in to the trap of believing that everything you see on someone’s Instagram is perfection. In reality, it’s a curated version of the best bits.
I wanted to put that tweet out because firstly, it made me laugh, and secondly I like the reminder that we’re all just imperfect humans doing the best we can each day.
So, through her video diaries, Pia has determined to make sure her followers understand exactly what it takes to be a superstar Instagram model.
Note: The list does not necessarily include grace and poise, as Pia will happily admit herself, just after she’s recovered from falling off a hammock or burning her butt on a sea-bound slip and slide with no running water.
The clumsy Australian law graduate is one of reams of entrepreneurial women on Instagram who have made their collective millions through sponsorship deals and lifestyle brands.
Although some may dismiss their business nous as unoriginal amid viral trends like the InstaSit, Pia has amassed a huge and dedicated following and she’s determined to do some good along the way.
Although her Instagram existence is designed to look like a walk in the park, Pia told UNILAD that pictorial aesthetic perfection is a time-consuming pursuit.
Honestly, if you saw my camera roll it’s hilarious. I use the burst feature on my iPhone, so I generally take 200 photos to get one good selfie. It sounds like a lot, but actually I’m just holding my finger down on the shutter for 15 seconds and then I choose my favourite one right after.
Giving UNILAD an exclusive insight into her daily routine, Pia said:
When I travel, I generally shoot, explore and have fun for around 3-4 hours a day, then I head back to the hotel room, spend around 2-3 hours managing emails related to SLINKII, then get all the photos ready for the next days posts on Instagram, and then work on blog posts for where I am staying, and we also edit a daily vlog on YouTube.
Typically when I’m overseas I generate 50Gb to 70Gb of photos and videos a day. It’s hard work, but very rewarding.
Indeed, there are things about Pia that you would never know from her highly-curated Instagram feed.
She’s obsessed with Harry Potter, can recite the dialogue from all seven films and uses a remote control in the shape of a magic wand to flick through channels when she’s vegging out in front of the tele.
Explaining how her life is secretly a series of mini-catastrophes, Pia added:
I once flew all the way to LA to visit Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, and got the dates wrong. I arrived a week before it actually opened so all I got was a Gryffindor t-shirt.
Through her ecological fashion and fitness brand – which the young businesswoman began from her bedroom selling organic yoga mats to her mates – Pia has also planted over 1,000 trees to aid reforestation.
The eco-warrior’s first ever Instagram post was ‘a very embarrassing duck face’ that she promises will ‘stay in [her] computer Trash Can forever!’
While she’s moved onto modelling for her own sustainable brand and for other high end products, Pia has managed to stay grounded in her own reality – and not the curated mirage offered up by her Instagram reel.
Whether you dote or hate on Instagram models, Pia certainly seems to break the mould in her willingness to shatter the perpetual perfection of online influencers, and the damaging effect their presence can have on others’ self-esteem.
The importance of personality clearly means more to Pia than a picture.
Really, we shouldn’t begrudge Instagram personalities like Pia at all; especially not when their actions speak so much louder than their active Instagram feed.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.