Joan Smalls, Shanina Shaik and Bridget Malcolm talk authenticity and the secret to getting more Instagram followers. Hint: It involves a pair of wings. WGSN Associate Digital Editor Sam Aldenton reports
We went backstage at the 2015 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to find out from the angels and Instagram heavy weights themselves, what it takes to reach some of the dizzying heights these girls have reached on the platform.
We talked to a few of the models from first timer Bridget Malcom through to VS runway regulars Shanina Shaik who’s fourth time this is, and industry icon and angel Joan Smalls.
Did you get a boost in Instagram followers when you were announced as a VS model?
Bridget: I remember the first time they posted a photo of me I was getting on a plane and went from about 10K followers to 50K when we landed, that was like woah. That’s insane, since I found out [I was in this year’s show] I think I’ve got about 10K more followers.
Joan: I think for my first show it was more when the show actually came out [that I got more followers] not the day it was taped like today because the public doesn’t see as much of this. It was once the show actually aired and people saw the pictures.
Shanina: Even just with the lead up to the show taking photos and being part of the Victoria’s Secret team right now, my followers do go up, it just keeps going. A lot of people really love Victoria’s Secret and a lot of women are inspired by all of the girls in the show too.
Are VS models superhuman one shot selfie machines or do you have to take a few extra selfies to get the perfect one?
Bridget: No, we’ve been standing here for like 10 minutes…
Shanina: …trying to get a selfie, yeah *giggles*. We’re not superhuman and are always trying to find that great light and a good face and the perfect moment for a good selfie.
Is there a better time of day that you usually post on instagram?
Shanina: Yep 9am and after work hours and then also in between lunch.
Bridget: Maybe 9am and 5pm
With all of the attention around Instagram model Essena O’Neill’s and her story, do you find there’s pressure to balance all the fun stuff you get to do like the VS show and the less glamourous side of modeling, is it difficult to be authentic on Instagram sometimes?
Shanina: My job being on social media is to actually show people what is my actual daily job, all the travel I do, being away from my family, what I like to do with my time off and sometimes show that it’s not so glamorous. I like to take photos when I’m very bare and with no make up too. It’s good to be unique as well, I think that everyone should be unique and not something that they’re not, because that’s actually what’s beautiful, being different.
Bridget: That’s very well put. I think with my Instagram I try and keep it as real as possible. I do try to keep the editing and filters to a minimum and I also try and portray a certain vibe. So if I’m having a bad day I’m probably not going to post about it on Instagram because I want people to look at my feed and feel uplifted but I think that people have a really really good authenticity filter these days.
They know when someone’s fake and someone’s real. Like Essena [O’Neill], I don’t spend four hours a day laying on a beach trying to get the perfect shot because my life isn’t ruled by social media. You know I just try to let people in the right amount and be as real as possible.
Joan: I think you just have to keep a balance of how much and what exactly you want to share, and I think that’s where authenticity comes in. Then it’s just a choice of how you want the world to portray you and what you want to put out there. That’s up to each individual, I think the good thing about Instagram is it shows the multidimensional aspects of a model, not that she just takes a pretty picture. Things like where does she travel, what is she watching, what is she eating. It’s these different variables that are more than just a selfie.
Photos by Sam Aldenton.