A quick scroll through the Instagram feeds of models turned business owners Steph Smith and Laura Henshaw sees a littering of big smiles, big selfies and a whole lot of time spent in active wear and bikinis.
For anyone else, active wear and bikinis signals leisure time. For these two, it’s their work, their currency and their brand. Henshaw, 24, and Smith, 23, have made the difficult but doable transition from models to business owners, launching Keep It Cleaner in 2016, a business that seeks to educate young girls on fitness and nutrition with an overarching goal of helping them feel comfortable in their own skin. A business that now has health food products stocked in Coles supermarkets right around the country.
It’s not an easy goal, that much is obvious. In a digital realm where social media heightens insecurities and encourages comparison, Smith and Henshaw have embarked on the difficult task of making the virtual world seem a little more real.
For the both of them, it’s an experience they feel they can engage with. After all, they know the sting of feeling inadequate doesn’t discriminate, saying they know – too well – the pressure of looking perfect online. And, as they tell Mamamia, that pressure has, in the past, manifested in feeling the need to Photoshop.
“I, one hundred percent, have felt [the pressure to photoshop]. Two or three years ago, I was really strict about the photos I would put up, making sure it was only ever taken from a flattering angle,” Henshaw says.
“In the past I have used apps to remove pimples or whiten my teeth. I suppose my rule now is just not to do it. I have too many young girls following me and as a model I put up enough work shots of me that have been professionally touched up so they don’t need my day to day images to be touched up as well,” she says.