Angelina Jolie has reportedly become the fastest ever user to gain one million followers on Instagram after joining the social media platform on Friday. According to The Evening Standard, the actor gained 2.1 million followers in just three hours – beating the previous records of K-Pop star Taeil, David Attenborough and Jennifer Aniston.
Since then, much of the news coverage surrounding Jolie’s Instagram debut has focused on this record-breaking rise in followers – with some outlets even reporting up-to-date figures of Jolie’s follower count as it continues to grow. But Jolie’s record – which has yet to be verified by officials – is far from the most important detail of her arrival on the platform.
Instead, it was Jolie’s first post – which she used to bring light to the struggles many women and girls are currently facing in Afghanistan – that made her debut so important.
Posting a photo of a letter she had received from a teenage girl in Afghanistan, Jolie – who is a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – said she had joined Instagram to share “the voices of those across the globe who are fighting for their basic human rights,” including the people of Afghanistan who “are losing their ability to communicate on social media and to express themselves freely” during the Taliban takeover.
“I was on the border of Afghanistan two weeks before 9/11, where I met Afghan refugees who had fled the Taliban. This was twenty years ago,” Jolie wrote.
“It is sickening to watch Afghans being displaced yet again out of the fear and uncertainty that has gripped their country,” she continued. “To spend so much time and money, to have blood shed and lives lost only to come to this, is a failure almost impossible to understand.
“Watching for decades how Afghan refugees – some of the most capable people in the world – are treated like a burden is also sickening. Knowing that if they had the tools and respect, how much they would do for themselves. And meeting so many women and girls who not only wanted an education, but fought for it.”
Jolie concluded: “Like others who are committed, I will not turn away. I will continue to look for ways to help. And I hope you’ll join me.”
Alongside the impassioned caption, the letter – which Jolie has anonymised – paints a picture of the situation women and girls in Afghanistan are currently facing.
“When [the Taliban] came, we are all afraid of them and we think all our dreams are gone,” the young girl writes. “We think our rights have been violated. We cannot go out.”
She continues: “Some people say they Talibans change, but I do not think so because they have a very bad past…. Again, we have no rights, the life of all of us is dark, we all lost our freedom, and we are imprisoned again.”
While the fact that Jolie has amassed so many followers – all of whom will now see her first post – is worth celebrating, we cannot let the buzz around her record-breaking debut overshadow the important message she joined the platform to share.
Right now, the crisis in Afghanistan requires all the attention it can get – and posts like Jolie’s play an important role in raising that awareness.