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“It’s amazing what a hashtag can do”: meet the most inspiring women on Instagram

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Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has become an essential part of our app repertoire. But it's not just a tool for sharing photos of pretty salads and big nights out. Like all forms of social media, it can be harnessed for good - to spread a message, create a support network, share art and make big things happen. 

In a new exhibition at London's Unit gallery, titled #MyStoryUK, Instagram has curated posts and videos from some of the UK's most inspirational Instagram users. We caught up with three of the kick-ass women featured to hear their stories. For a sneak preview of some of the other Insta-stars featured, scroll to the gallery at the bottom of the page. You'll want to follow them all...


Dina Torkia aka @dinatokio

“I’m into fashion, but I’m also a Muslim and I wear the scarf. I knew from my friends that were so many other Muslim girls like me, but in the wider world, people find it strange for some reason. Instagram was a way for me to connect with girls from all over the world who are into the same thing, and it turns out there’s way more of us than anyone ever thought.

“When I was younger I always wanted to pursue a career in fashion, but I thought: “I can’t. I wear the scarf, I won’t fit in.” Instagram has allowed me to follow that route without a traditional career path. I want to push other Muslim women to do whatever the hell they want. Forget stereotypes, forget what society thinks, just do what you want. If you wear the hijab people think you're oppressed, but the scarf isn’t supposed to stop us doing anything. It doesn’t limit Muslim women. The only thing that limits us is what people think.

“There are no limits to Instagram. I’ve met fellow bloggers from around the world; I met a fashion designer who I’d been stalking on Facebook, who then contacted me over Instagram and ended up flying me out to Indonesia where she works. And I get so many direct messages from girls all around the world who say they’ve been inspired by my page, because they were worried they'd lose their sense of style if they wore the scarf. They think they have to go out and get a whole new wardrobe, but you don’t. You just need a few scarves!”

Follow her: @dinatokio


Viviana Gomez-Morales aka @ViviGomez12

 

Just rollin’ with it in Barcelona . . #Barcelona #NefariousCrew #ladiesofshred #girlskateuk #skateboarding #girlgaze  

A photo posted by Viviana Gomez-Morales (@vivigomez12) on

“I’d always wanted to skate. I remember being eight years old, begging my mum for a board. But I was too nervous because I didn’t know any other girls who skated, and I felt quite shy about going to the skate park by myself. Then last summer, I met a girl at the skate park, and we started skating together. Eventually, we started meeting other girls, and now there’s almost 20 of us in our crew, Nefarious. We post things on Instagram and Facebook so other girls are encouraged to join us.

“I shoot all our pictures and videos. I love it because it means I get to be creative with the girls. I’m like, “Do that again! Do this trick for me!” I always have my phone on me, and whenever I get a really good shot – which is pretty much every time I see the girls – I’m like, yep, this is going on Instagram.

“It’s amazing what a hashtag can lead to. A lot of the new girls that have joined first contacted us through Instagram, and we’ve become this little family. Some of us have been skating for a long time and some of us have just started, but we all share this passion, and we get really excited when other girls want to get involved. Even if we just see other girl skaters we get really hyped up, because it means the scene is growing, and it’s something that’s so fun to be a part of.

“It’s important to have these images coming out because the skate scene is quite heavily male-dominated, and girl skaters are usually overlooked. It wasn’t until I met one of the girls that I was like – this is it. This is life. It’s important to let the community know that we’re around, and we’re always at events, so if anyone wants to come they can definitely contact us and we’ll be there. When girls tell us that they really want to learn to skate but they're too nervous, we're like, “Dude!” We’ll be there to hold your hand, cheer you on, whatever you need.”

Follow her: @ViviGomez12


Zoë de Pass aka @dresslikeamum

“Dress Like A Mum started when I was on maternity leave with my second child. I worked in brand and digital strategy for luxury fashion and beauty brands, and I was getting a lot of comments like “You don’t dress like a mum”. I started doing some research into what a mum was supposed to look like, and everything I found was really negative. I decided that was wrong, and started this campaign to make dressing like a mum into something positive.

“As a mum, especially if you’re breastfeeding, you can fall into a trap of just wearing what’s easy. I totally love clothes, but I kind of forgot that straight after I had my first baby. I wanted to post cool, breastfeeding-friendly outfits, because when I was breastfeeding the first time I learned so much about what I could wear that I wish I’d known.

“I don’t plan my photos – I don’t have time. Once I have more childcare I might be a bit more organised, but I just take five minutes at the beginning of each day to snap a picture of what I’m wearing.

“Around the time I launched there were a lot of mums joining Instagram, so I tapped into this UK fashion mum market, and I’ve now got an amazing group of mum mates that I met on Instagram. It allows us to cut out the small talk, because we tap into each other’s lives through Instagram.

“I was really honoured to be asked to feature in the exhibition. I think what it does really nicely is highlight smaller, more unpredictable Instagram stories. These are real, friendly women doing their own thing and putting it out there, so it’s really cool.”

Follow her: @dresslikeamum


The best of the rest of #MyStoryUK


Visit the #MyStoryUK exhibition at The Unit, 147-149 Wardour St, London, W1F 8WD, until 5pm on Friday 10 June.

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