A 32-year-old Instagram star faked a trip to Disneyland to prove a point about deception on social media

  • Carolyn Stritch is the 32-year-old freelance photographer and lifestyle blogger behind The Slow Traveller.
  • She conducted an experiment to show people how easy it is to fake “perfection” on Instagram.
  • She used heavily filtered selfies and photoshopped her “22-year-old perfect self” on a trip to Disneyland.

“Question everything” is the Instagram influencer and blogger Carolyn Stritch’s latest message to her followers. And to encourage people to do just that, she conducted an experiment to show people just how easy it is to fake “perfection” on the photo-sharing platform.

Stritch, who is from the UK, is the 32-year-old lifestyle blogger and freelance photographer behind The Slow Traveller. She has amassed 190,000 followers on her Instagram account @theslowtraveler through sharing perfectly poised photos of cosy-looking settings involving copious cups of coffee and stacks of books – the one below has been liked more than 10,000 times.

But as we should all know by now, not everything is as it seems on Instagram.

In a post titled “Why I hacked my own Instagram account,” Stritch reveals how she fooled people into believing she had taken a trip to Disneyland.

The story was inspired by a selfie she took with a face-transformation tool called FaceApp. Stritch said she was shocked by how much it changed her.

“My face changes quickly and dramatically: fine lines flatten, wrinkles smooth out, blemishes unblemish, dark circles disappear, cheekbones rise, eyes brighten, lips get bigger, nose gets smaller,” she wrote.

“My face is gone,” she continued. “Staring back at me, wearing my clothes, sitting in my bed, is a stranger. Or perhaps more accurately: It’s my perfect self.”

She posted the selfie on Facebook – no one questioned the enhanced image, she said, not even her family members.

“I came up with a story: My FaceApp’d perfect self, who’s 10 years younger than I am, flies off to Disneyland for the day and somehow manages to photograph herself all alone in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle,” Stritch said. “I manipulated images, captioned them with a fictional narrative, and presented them as real life.”

The caption on her first post said:

“Tomorrow, I’m going to be 22! I’m treating myself with a trip to Californ-I-ay: I’m off to Disneyland to Instagram the hell out of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. I’ll be putting myself to bed nice and early tonight: I’m flying tomorrow and coming home Monday (need a magic carpet, not an aeroplane). I’ll be by myself, but so what? It will be my very own fairytale. Human possibilities vastly exceed our imagination!”

Next, she posted:

“I’ve taken myself off to California. There I am in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – my crazy, self-indulgent 22nd birthday present to myself. Tomorrow I’ll be back home and it will be like it never even happened! I keep saying to myself: it’s kind of fun to do the impossible. Life is what you make it!”

Stritch says she doesn’t usually use filters like FaceApp but does make the occasional tweak in a nod to the “aspirational” side of the photo-sharing platform.

She also says that despite what her account might suggest, she never reads books by her window.

“Those windows, beautiful as they are, make my flat freezing cold,” she said.

She continued: “Sometimes that coffee cup I’m holding is empty. I suck in my stomach. I rearrange the furniture. I photoshop out dirty marks made by bashing furniture off the walls.”

She added that with this project, she crossed a line, going “way, way over it so I could work backwards and figure out how far I can reasonably go and still make work that’s both responsible and good.”

Stritch says she’s using the project as research for her photography degree.

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