Carina Chocano’s Vanity Fair feature on Courtney Adamo, Amelia Fullarton and other ‘Instagram Influencer Mamas’ in Byron Bay is beautifully written and thought-provoking. It is also savage and scathing.
— claire howorth (@clairehoworth) July 2, 2019
Why the American magazine despatched a writer and a photographer down under to eviscerate these women – in particular – so brutally is unclear.
Each of the ‘influencers’ from the ‘Coast of Utopia’ has had the gall to amass thousands of followers on Instagram, to surf, to wear linen, to live in minimalist chicly-renovated homes, to have kids and to run successful businesses off the back of their loyal followers. (Or, is it the other way around?)
They are all almost impossibly beautiful. Their homes, their children, themselves. One of the lead protagonists, Courtney Adamo, has committed another crime: the mother-of-five heralds from an ultra-wealthy family in America.
So far, despite the abundance of cause for envy, it still isn’t exactly clear why these women earned Vanity Fair’s wrath for the chasm between reality and perception in the Instagram age.
Certainly these women are remarkably privileged and ridiculously photogenic. Their lives look almost comically effortless and perfect. But they’re far from alone.
Search every nook and cranny of Instagram and you will uncover ‘Influencers’ with enormous followings spruiking various aspects of their equally unattainably beautiful lives.
Their wardrobes. Their renovations. Their bodies. Their children. Their beauty regimes. Their make up. Their parenting. Their storage solutions. Their travels. Pick a niche and you will find any number of genetically-blessed women (mostly) making a living from having made a life on the gram their thing.
Plenty of it is icky and artificial and discombobulating.
But you could be forgiven, after reading Chocano’s essay, for thinking that Adamo and Fullarton and Aimee Winchester and Amanda Callan are not just the only women the world over using Instagram to their advantage in creating commercial success but that they created materialism. That they are responsible for the commodification of life as we now know it.
Making this Byron clique the scapegoats for all the evils in the age of Instagram Influencers seems rich.
Chocano’s main rub with these Byron-based mamas centres around a lack of authenticity in the image of life they pedal. They use social media themselves but ban their kids from screens. They fail to recognise adequately the privileges they enjoy.
These women are making a buck out of selling a carefree, simple life and the hypocrisy is rank.
A post by the Vanity Fair photographer, Tierney Gearon, who spent some time with these women and their families throws a very different shade on the community to Chocano.
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BLOWN AWAY by these sweet soulful beauties ! Thank you @vanityfair for sending me to BYRON BAY Australia to document the lives of these special women And their families . “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. All good things are wild, and free. Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify. The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. This world is but a canvas to our imagination. The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves. Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” Thank you HENRY DAVID THOREAU for reminding us what is most important. Was so impressed and inspired the way these @courtneyadamo @little.winnie @miaeatswolves @hanataninaka @churchfarmgeneralstore @imogen_imagination have found a way to live “ UN – Plugged “ In a world filled with technology and social media . I don’t know about the rest of you……. but I struggle everyday trying to figure out how to monitor myself as well as my children from spending too much time on our phones and computer.. Yet Courtney and her friends have figured out how to incorporate technology in their lives without it destroying their soul. By taking advantage of modern technology sharing and inspiring others with their social media accounts while spending the majority of their time living the most simple beautiful organic authentic lifestyle . Thank you girls for sharing and letting me in to your intimate circle 🌸
She highlights the genuine friendships and relationships she observed between and among these families in what she describes as a pretty remarkable community.
If the issue with Instagram is the faux friendship and false connection – isn’t a genuine community – an actual village in action – to be applauded?
There is no doubt that the issues of consumerism, transparency and authenticity on Instagram are problematic. So are the ethics around documenting the lives of children on line. There is plenty to dissect about modern lives that is vile.
But selecting a few women who have been adaptable and successful at creating lives in which they combine work and family on their own terms and holding them responsible for all the broader woes of the platform itself feels desperately unfair and sexist.
Adamo comes from a wealthy media family – so do James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch. Neither of them are sniped at for not recognising their blessings, nor are they ever framed as illegitimate for having worked to develop their own business interests. To the contrary.
Adamo co-founded a successful website, Babycinno Kids, in the UK back in the early 2000s. That success has helped enabled her to travel the world with her family.
Frankly it is impossible to imagine a man not being lauded if he had done the same. On – or off – Instagram.