Meet the women using Instagram to change their lives

A new exhibition showcases the women using Instagram to share life-changing stories

Could your Instagram feed be a game-changer? They say a picture can paint a thousand words. And never more so than one that’s been whizzed through an Earlybird filter and shared on Instagram. From 8th June, Instagram is hosting a pop-up photography and video exhibition in London, #MyStoryUK, showcasing the most inspiring women storytellers who are sharing powerful images every day.

From illustrators and activists, to mothers and entrepreneurs, Marie Claire meets the British women pushing creative boundaries, launching businesses and changing other women’s lives at the tap of an Instagram post.

@dinatokio runs a Hijab focused fashion account, using Instagram to raise the profile of British Muslim fashion and giving a voice to the fashion savvy Muslim community

‘For a British Muslim woman, connecting to a vast network of similar women around the world has been priceless for the growth of my fashion business. I love style and I got sick of this stereotype that hijab wearing women have to look boring and dull. Giving other women style inspiration means I’ve had comments from all over the world. I had one from a Jewish woman who said “I also have to cover my hair so thanks for giving me tips on cool, funky ways to wear my scarf.” I hear from 16-year-old girls who are struggling with their image and identity, and want ideas on how to wear the hijab without losing their coolness. I wish I had that inspiration as a teen. Instagram gets my message out there instantly and breaks down global and language barriers. I use Instagram explore to discover other fashion bloggers, like the Indonesian designer @Dianpelangi whose profile is crazy colourful. Apart from selfies, my husband takes all my pictures on a Canon Powershot G7x. But don’t dare call him an Instagram husband. He would hate that!’

@dinatokio is restyling the hijab for women all over the world

@laurenlaverne
is a broadcaster and journalist, host of BBC 6 Music and Late Night Woman’s Hour and co-founder of The Pool. She is the ambassador for Instagram’s #MyStoryUK campaign.

‘I am fascinated by communication and the way women share their lives and opinions, especially in carefully curated and beautiful Instagram feeds. I think society has a tendency to be dismissive of selfie culture as simply narcissism but of course there is more to it, and the breadth of people using visual communication to tell their stories is mind-blowing. You have artists like Gill Button @buttonfruit who paints these amazing portraits and has exclusively used Instagram to sell her work. Or Jaz O’Hara @theworldwidetribe who uses the platform to tell her personal story and document her work with refugees. I also love accounts like Zoe @dresslikeamum who is totally smashing the stereotypes of yummy mummy culture. I find Instagram a really open, affirming, creative place to be, and I love seeing shared experiences from individual, unique perspectives. Like my view of Glastonbury from the BBC2 broadcasting platform which was a very different view to that of the crowd or the bands backstage.’

@laurenlaverne is host and ambassador for Instagram’s #MyStoryUK campaign

@vivigomez12 is smashing gender stereotypes and connecting women around the world with her Instagram feed focusing on female skateboarders

‘Initially I started documenting things on Instagram just to share snapshots of my life around London. When I started skating in August last year, I thought it would be great to show other girls that there was this huge community out there. For me, female skaters are always seen as different. We are questioned about the reasons we skate in a way that men never would be. I am hoping to encourage other girls to go out and give it a go. I have spoken to girl skaters from as far away as the US and Canada using the hashtags #ladieswhoshred and #girlshred. When girls find us and discover we skate in London they come out to skate with us and it is amazing. Instagram works as a portal to real life relationships so it really unites people. In this shot I’m not doing any tricks, just pushing along and I think it’s a powerful message that will encourage girls to give it a go if they can visualise themselves doing it.’

Skateboarder @vivigomez12 inspires girls and women the world over to get on a board.

Check out more stories at the exhibition, which runs on 9th and 10th June at the Unit Gallery, Central London, and join in on Instagram #MyStoryUK

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