#MyStory: Meet The Artist Using Instagram To Smash Stereotypes

Instagram has backed a new campaign to diversify the images that we use to portray women in the media - and Petra Collins is leading the charge.

Instagram has launched a new hashtag initiative to promote visual imagery that represents what it’s like to be a woman in today’s society.

Using the hashtag, #MyStory, the social media brand is hoping to shatter ‘clichés that we have about men and women’ and ‘break down gender stereotypes in the process’.

Highlighting the works of 28 women in particular, including @TessHolliday, @OldSoulStudios, and @PetraCollins, the women featured are from all over the world, and use their photography either to campaign for change, or demonstrate diversity.

And Petra Collins, a 22 year old photographer whose work has already appeared in magazines all over the world, can’t get enough of the campaign.

‘#MyStory is about creating images for women or female-identifying people that are hopefully more truthful and inclusive,’ explains Petra. ‘I struggled a lot academically when I was a young girl. I was like, ‘Oh I’m not smart so I’ll need to rely on my looks.’ But, everything I was looking at in magazines was from one point of view. I wanted to capture my own life. I wanted to create an outlet and images that felt like ‘Oh, this happened. This is real.’ Creating nostalgia is a way to make a place in the world, to cement my story — or other girls’ stories — in the landscape.’

‘The way I’ve gotten to where I am now is because of the Internet and these platforms like Instagram or Facebook or Tumblr, where people, specifically teenage girls, are able to create their own worlds and post their own work,’ she adds. ‘We live in an image-based world. We’re all constantly bombarded by images, but a lot of them don’t reflect the normal person or girl. And I think the selfie is a really important tool for girls because they can create images of themselves that aren’t the manipulated ones that they see.’

‘I don’t want to create some sort of greater version of me. I’ll post photos of my body or me with my acne. When there are images of your natural self out there for other people to see, you just feel more like a human — and other girls can see them and relate. It’s crazy … I get really mean responses, but it’s always really nice to hear people be like, ‘Oh, I have that right now. I can post a photo like you’re posting a photo.’ That’s the best feeling.”’

And Instagram clearly agrees, even hosting an event on Monday night where they showcased the women’s works.

‘Instagram is all about visual storytelling, and women are not only incredible storytellers, but they have really important stories and perspectives to share,’ Marne Levine, the brand’s COO explained.

‘These images really transcend age, culture, country — no matter what — and people really understand and are able to be motivated and inspired by the different stories that women tell.’

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