14 women share their 'best' Instagram photo. And why it wasn't as it seemed.

It's one of the many paradoxes of social media that we share so much yet reveal so little.

We upload photo after painstakingly filtered photo to our feeds, carefully curated to present the version of our lives and ourselves that we think others want to see (and perhaps the one we wish was true).

But what if we shared the whole picture?

Here, women tell Mamamia what was really going on when they posted their 'best' social media photos.


"I posted this picture in March 2019, the day after I found out that my husband had pancreatic cancer. At that stage we were unsure of what was ahead of us. Unfortunately, my husband lost the fight to this cruel disease just nine months after his diagnosis. He was 43.

"Life's so hard without him. I don't know how to live; I don't know who I am. I just have to be strong for my kids."

Katrina. Image: Supplied.



"This picture was taken sitting in our driveway one morning, right after I'd asked my husband to leave. I was emotionally drained and bone-tired but loving the moment with my babies."

Laura. Image: Supplied.



"I shared this photo after I got off a FaceTime call with my mum in which I showed her an amazing waterfall in Iceland we were visiting. The night before we left for this trip, I found out that my mum's cancer had caused fluid in her lungs and her prognosis was not good. The whole time on holiday I had a broken heart and was so conflicted about having left her to go on the trip in case something happened while I was a million miles away. If you look at my feed you’d have no clue that was what was going on in my life at the time."

Bridgette. Image: Supplied.



"I shared this photo when I was in a really bad place, health-wise. I was really, really struggling with chronic pain and fatigue, which caused me to burnout entirely. I remembering feeling at the time like I’d never feel 'normal' again."

Jess. Image: Supplied.



"In the midst of taking the photo, there were worries about a double chin, looking sweaty, the wrinkles on my chest, cropping in just enough so my arms don't look fat, not looking too busty, using just enough filter but not too much. There were, as always, a dozen shots to get this one 'effortless' selfie.

"I had just turned 40 and was still single. I was professionally and financially successful, but living constantly with the deepening fear that I will never meet anyone to share my life with. I was being frequently harassed by 'well meaning' people about my lack of children and my assumed ticking clock.

"I was also battling (and still am) a chronic pain condition called trigeminal neuralgia, which causes excessive nerve pain on the right side of my face. I was living on painkillers and high doses of anticonvulsant medication."

Meagan. Image: Supplied.



"I had just separated from my husband, my partner of 10 years. Since our wedding two years prior, I had put on a further 20kg due to previously undiagnosed polycystic ovarian syndrome. I was living with my parents, hating my job and extremely depressed."

Jess. Image: Supplied.



"I took this photo to celebrate the fact that I had gone on a hike with my very fit in-laws and didn’t die. Truthfully, I was so disgusted at my body because my sister-in-law is so thin and fit, and I felt like a balloon next to her."

Elise. Image: Supplied.



"I got stood up for a date this night and was feeling super low. I’d already done my makeup, so thought I might as well get a selfie out of it. I felt very rejected and unloveable and was having a big crisis of self esteem."

Jessie. Image: Supplied.



"On this day, the guy I was dating accidentally sent me a snapchat at 2 a.m. of him in a taxi with another girl. The caption was, 'I'm getting some.' I had a bit of a cry to my mum when I woke up, and then I had to pull myself together because it was my dad’s work Christmas party and he was really excited about it because he had hired a little river boat."

Emily. Image:supplied.



"I posted this at a lush retreat, lookin’ chic, but really, I had just been brutally dumped by my partner of five years. He was moving overseas and I wanted to be far, far away from the airport when his plane took off."

Lucy. Image: Supplied.



"I'd just moved to London and was doing some acting and modeling through an agency to make ends meet while I looked for work. Lots of the jobs I got through that contact were incredible. This one was not. They scammed me out of hundreds of dollars. I spent hours on the phone to police, my bank and my parents back home, devastated that the dollars I had saved so diligently to get me through my first few months abroad had been cruelly snatched from me. I cried so hard and felt so cheated and vulnerable, I considered running home to Australia."

Gemma. Image: Supplied.



"This photo was taken in Japan, on a holiday I'd booked on a whim just after a breakup. I had just found out, via Facebook, that I'd been fired from the bar I'd been working at and so wouldn't have a job when I got home. At the time, I felt so incredibly overwhelmed by uncertainty, but I do ultimately love this photo and the wild adventure behind it."

Milly. Image: Supplied.



"I posted this after finishing a 12-hour shift (in heels), getting shoved out of the way by hundreds of people on the red carpet (because that's the reality of it) for most of the day. I was at a point where I was so done with my job that I would go home every night and cry. I was so anxious about working, and was in a terrible place mentally and personally in a super bad cycle of anxiety and stress."

Lily. Image: Supplied.



"This photo was taken when I was probably the unhappiest I've ever been. It was only a few weeks after I quit my job as a retail assistant because my chronic pain became too much to handle, I had gained weight from being sick and not exercising, and my head was just sad. Not to mention, I had stupidly agreed to my first proper, big-girl corporate job that I was starting two days later (and I was unbelievably nervous for). But looking back on it, it was the moment when I decided enough was enough. I needed to fix my pain and my head — which I did. So it was a sh***y time but I've become a better version of myself because of it."

Charlie. Image: Supplied.


Feature image: Supplied.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or  beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

What's the real story behind your 'best' social media photo? 

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Top Contributions

amynicoleclark 4 years ago

Being a beauty editor is a very shiny, sparkly job and I love putting on makeup each day and taking sun-drenched selfies for (a very small part of my)