celebrity

10 shiny photos you’ll see on my Instagram. And the raw, unfiltered story behind them.

I feel like I need to start this piece off with a bit of a disclaimer: I am very grateful to be able to do what I do as an influencer and be able to make a living from it.

I’m acutely aware I’m not out here saving lives (or risking mine).

I’m aware of how lucky I am to be given the opportunities I’ve been given, to be able to travel and call it work. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made and experiences I’ve shared with my 211,000+ followers on Instagram.

But believe me when I say, it really isn’t all bikini shots, red carpet events and annual trips to the Maldives.

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I’m human and I have shitty days, just like everyone else. I’ve been very open and honest about my mental health and sometimes my anxiety makes me feel so heavy, so overwhelmed and nauseous that I simply can’t get out of bed.

But who wants to see a selfie of me, in bed, my eyes swollen from crying?

Who is going to “like” a photo of me with stringy hair and tracksuit pants because I haven’t left the house in days?

No one.

On these days? I post photos of me smiling, eating avocado on toast at a new cafe. Or a throwback photo of a holiday where I felt calm, happy.

I play make believe. I go to “work”. I put on my clown mask and you all believe I’m living the high life.

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About a year ago now I decided to endeavour to be more honest with my followers. I wanted to be vulnerable. Authentic. Real. It’s not always easy. But I think it’s important.

So, off the back of that, I decided to take a little trip down memory lane to tell you the story – the real story – behind the post.

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Enjoy peeling back the curtain and remember, don’t ever compare your real life to someone’s highlight reel.

1. The first job I took after my mum died.

This Swisse X Village Cinemas activation was the first job I had agreed to after my mother passed away.

It was a new mindfulness offering by Swisse that meant office workers in the area could come to the cinemas on their lunch break and take some “me” time to meditate. Meditation is something that has helped me a lot, both with my anxiety and insomnia so I was all for it. On top of that, I hadn’t worked in over two weeks and needed the money.

The morning of the job I woke up feeling a bit panicked. I didn’t feel like putting on a happy face and having to be polite and professional. I thought about messaging my manager and pulling out but it was too last minute and flaking on a job – especially in the eleventh hour – just isn’t something I’d do.

So I put on my activewear, slapped on some makeup (needing more concealer than usual to cover up the bags under my eyes) and drove to the cinemas.

Thankfully, Tegan Martin was also booked for the job. Tegan and I have been friends for a few years and she is always a ray of sunlight. She passed on her condolences and gave me a big hug and I instantly felt better.

The meditation ended up being very calming (no surprises there) and Tegan and I had a lot of fun shooting together afterwards that I can honestly say that smile is genuine, despite how I had felt that morning.

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2. The convenient re-gram.

 

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5 days since my last post. 4 days in bed with the flu. Here’s a little something I prepared earlier… ????????

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The reality behind this post is touched-on in the caption. I had been house-bound with the flu for two weeks. It was the first time I had the flu rather than the common cold and let me tell you, I would not recommend it.

I was suffering from a temperature, all-over body aches and pains and could barely breathe out of my nose. I had watched literally every binge-able Netflix series and was going bananas with cabin fever. I didn’t feel like sharing my snotty nose with the world so I had been avoiding Instagram stories but I was feeling the pressure to post SOMETHING. Anything.

So, I scrolled back through my photos and found a shot from a trip I took to Western Australia the year before. I had already posted it but I chucked a different filter on it and re-grammed away, a sigh of relief that my social media presence was now reinstated.

3. The food flat lay that bombed.

 

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When I was a little girl, I used to beg my Dad to make me dippy eggs for breakfast. He would, every time I asked. Despite how late he was for work or how behind I was in getting ready for school. It was only one egg back then and the toast was Tip Top white bread, lathered in butter but he nailed it every time. After I finished dipping my bread into the egg, scooping up the last bits with my teaspoon I’d tip the egg upside down. Dad would come back over to clean up and with mock surprise, exclaim “Didn’t like your egg?” And I’d pretend to be a disgruntled customer and say “Nup!” And we’d both smile a knowing smile. We played this game every. Single. Time. It never got old for me and although I’m sure Dad tired of the gag, he never let on. Now as an adult, I often find myself subconsciously drawn back to orders like this when I’m feeling particularly lost. Or adrift. Sometimes I don’t even realise why I’m heading to a particular cafe until the dippy eggs arrive and I feel instantly comforted. And calm. Today, despite being 31 years old and ordering off the kids menu… I still turn my eggs upside down when I’m finished. Every. Single. Time. ❤️???? @pee_smyth

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Photos like this – including photos of my food, flat lays or basically anything that doesn’t feature me in the shot nearly always bomb. They never perform well because people seem to follow me because they want to SEE me.

So when I post something like this, it’s purely because I want to. I know it’s not going to get many likes, but I don’t care. I’m not posting it for anybody else but myself.

Dippy eggs is one of my favourite things to eat for breakfast because it reminds me of being a little girl and having my dad make them for me. I find I often drift back to nostalgic things from my childhood when I’m having a rough week or feel homesick. Dippy eggs make me feel safe, comforted.

4. The fashion event I… didn’t actually attend.

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This shot was taken by my best friend (and manager) Gen at VAMFF this year. Fashion week has never really been my jam, to be totally honest.

For one, I’m the least fashionable person I know. I’m always the last to pick up on trends and would rather spend my money on food and travel than handbags and heels. On top of that, there is so much work that goes into attending these kinds of events. You need a very chic outfit (ideally by the designer of the show you’re attending), hair and make up professionally done. Sometimes you have multiple shows back to back and you need to change outfits in between.

Then there is the social politics… if you’re not in the front row, you may as well go home. You don’t want anybody to see you in row B or C and forget wasting your time filming the show for Instagram- everyone will know you’re not “frow” and so, what’s the point?

In saying all that, I had a client wanting to dress me for a show. Only problem is, I had declined to attend any. I wanted to skip this year’s VAMFF. Have a breather. So what did I do? I got all dressed up, drove to the venue, made sure I found a spot that clearly indicated where I was and took a photo. After we agreed we got the shot, we hopped straight back in the car and drove to a cafe for lunch.

End of the day, I had fulfilled the brief, made the client happy, paid my rent AND put my mental health first. Everybody won!

5. A severe case of Imposter Syndrome.

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I love this photo, mainly because I think it makes me look like a REAL influencer. I look like all the fashionistas I follow on my own Instagram, picturesque backdrop and coconut and everything!

It was taken at the REVOLVE welcome party held on The Island in Sydney – the first event in what would be a huggggeeee week of parties and events run by US fashion giant REVOLVE on their first trip down under.

I was extremely anxious about it… about the whole week really. The guest list read like “Instagram’s Top 100 Influencers From Around The World”. There were people attending that I had been following for years. American influencers and models flown in especially for the occasion.

I was really nervous about not being as young or beautiful as everyone else. I felt like my invite had been mistakenly sent to me. I was suffering from a serious case of Imposter Syndrome and I was feeling self-conscious and insecure about how I looked, comparing myself to all these insanely beautiful women around me.

So when I saw this photo (and chucked a good filter on it), I felt happy. Like I fit in, belonged. Like maybe I was going to be able to fake it til I made it that week. And then when it performed well, I felt validated.

How messed up is that?

6. The shot that took 30 takes to get right.

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Something a lot of people not in the “influencer” world may not think about is how bloody hard it can be to create beautiful content and take all these photos by yourself. It’s a god damn skill and should be treated as such!

This photo was taken at The Larmont Hotel in Sydney. I was staying for a few nights free of charge, in return for a post a day and various stories tagging the hotel on my Instagram feed- a pretty common deal these days.

As an influencer, you want to keep up your end of the bargain and do a good job so that you’re welcomed back. You want to show off the best parts of the hotel, entice your followers to book their next stay… but getting the shot can be really tricky when you’re travelling alone (which I often am).

To nail this photo, I had to rest my iPhone on the entertainment unit under the TV. I then switched my camera to front facing mode, so I could see the framing of the shot.

Once I had made sure it was all centered, I set my phone to self-timer mode, with a ten second countdown. Then, I pressed the shoot button, quickly jumped back on the bed and tried to position myself looking relaxed, towel on head, magazine in hand.

I then got back up to check the results. Realised the pose wasn’t working so changed it up. Repeated the process. Realised I needed different props, the bed needed smoothing out, my towel kept falling of…. I must of gotten up off that bed and lay back down 30 or so times before I was convinced I had something I could work with.

This, was the end result.

7. A windy rooftop.

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This photo makes me smile, mainly because it was taken by one of my best friends on top of the Westlight Hotel in Brooklyn during golden hour on my 31st birthday. I had already pre-warned her that I was definitely going to want a photo out on the rooftop, looking back at Manhattan… how could I not?

Except that you couldn’t tell from standing at the bar inside just how windy it was out there. I’m talking, gail force winds. My freshly blow-waved hair was absolutely annihilated. My wrap dress was being flapped open, my underwear exposed for literally everyone inside the bar to see. But perhaps best of all, the wind was so strong it splashed some of my champagne up my nose and down my chest.

It was a total comedy of errors but resulted in a genuine laughing shot and it will forever remind me of perhaps the best birthday I’ve ever had in one of my favourite cities in the world.

8. My mental health barometer.

 

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Feeling very grateful for the people (and puppies) I’ve spent my day with. You know who you are. ❤️

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I can tell you exactly what headspace I was in (spoiler alert: not a good one) when this photo was taken based off whose house I’m at.

I’m at my friend’s Annie and Lukas’ house. Annie and Lukas were my first housemates when I moved to Melbourne and have become like family to me down here.

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Annie especially has always been an amazing support and sound-board for me and I often find myself reaching out to her when I’m struggling.

So, if I’m at their place, playing with their pup Winnie, chances are I’ve just spent an hour crying over a hot tea, updating Annie on my life.

I’m not wearing any makeup. It’s not a particularly good photo but I’d had fun meeting Winnie and felt very lucky and loved after my chat with Annie so uploaded the photo because it meant something to me. And I didn’t care if nobody else liked it, I did.

9. Looking happy, but on the inside, I’m not.

I picked this post to chat about because the contrast of how I look- which is ecstatic- versus how I felt at the time is vast.

That’s Sam, one of my oldest friends and I’m at the house he shares with 3 of my other best friends with their dog Maja. I stay there when I’m in Sydney because I don’t have a proper bedroom at my Dad’s and he lives in Hornsby, about an hour away from the city which can be a pain in the ass when I don’t have a car.

That weekend, I’d flown home to reset. To recoup. I was hurting and anxious and just needed a hug from my oldest friends. I didn’t wear makeup all weekend, I stayed in comfy clothes and ate delicious home-cooked meals. I also barely touched my phone all weekend which was a nice little digital detox that I don’t often get to do.

I flew back to Melbourne feeling rejuvenated, thankful for having great friends in both cities.

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10. The sleeve of my jumper was wet with tears.

 

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Visiting mum at her care home is never easy. It’s traumatic. Heartbreaking. Distressing. You sit there in silence, hoping she shows you the slightest sign of recognition. You try to stroke her hair, her hand. Some days she seems calm, at ease. Others she seems panicked. Confused. Scared. Today was not a good day. Mum wouldn’t let me hold her hand, every soft touch I made seemed to cause her pain. She was jerky, agitated. Her limbs and eyes were darting all over the room. Suddenly she’d settle for a second and look a million miles away. A gurgle. A groan. I can barely look. This isn’t living. This isn’t fair. “Let’s go pumpkin…” says Dad. “Can we take her with us?” (I want to extend, once again, our sincerest gratitude to the amazing staff at Hammondcare Wahroonga. The level of care and attention to detail is astonishing and makes an anguishing visit slightly less horrific. Today, they had dressed mum in a bright pink t-shirt with a pretty matching necklace. She of course has no idea what she’s wearing…but it’s something I could have imagined her picking out for herself and it makes the fact that I have to say goodbye a little less gut wrenching.) @dementia_australia #dementia @hammondcarevolunteers

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What’s that old saying? “A picture says a thousand words”.

Well, I think this one says it all.

It was one of those occasions where I tried to be vulnerable with my followers, to let them in on my reality. On what life was really like for me that day. I wasn’t eating a free lunch at a cafe or putting on a sparkly dress for a movie premiere.

I was visiting my mum at her care home. She wasn’t doing so well. And the sleeve of my jumper was wet with tears.

I was struggling with what to post. I wanted to protect her from the world so only photographed her hand… but I also wanted to raise awareness for dementia, so I decided to be as raw as possible with the story I shared via my caption.

As usual, the response was amazing and overwhelming. The internet and social media particularly can be a pretty dark and scary place but when it bands together for good? It can be also be pretty inspiring.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please seek professional help and contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

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