real life

The woman who tricked her entire family into thinking she was on the other side of the world.


Meet Zilla Van Den Born.

She’s the Dutch student who just faked a five-week overseas holiday to Southeast Asia.

Van Den Born, a graphic designer from Amsterdam, used her excellent Photoshop skills to lie to her friends and family about being overseas. She got them to drop her at the airport, waved to them at the gate, pretended she was going to Thailand… and then caught the bus home.

In reality, the 25-year-old never left her hometown and spent five whole weeks manipulating photographs and posting fake Facebook statuses.

Zilla Van Den Born, eating at an exotic restaurant in ‘Thailand’.

She even skyped her family at bizarre times of the night to keep up the facade.

Here she is, pretending to snorkel with fish. Actually, she’s in the pool at the bottom of her apartment block, and the fish are Photoshopped in later.

The top photo was taken in Van Den Born’s pool. The bottom, she uploaded on social media after adding in some tropic fish.

But the reason behind her fake holiday wasn’t to evoke travel envy in her followers. It wasn’t even just because she was bored.

It was for a university assignment. And also, incidentally, to prove that the world as we know it is a lie.

“I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media, and that we create an online world which reality can no longer meet,” Van Den Born said, speaking to media in Amsterdam.

“My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.”

Click through below for more images from Van Den Born’s elaborate fake holiday.


Van Den Born has posted photos and videos of her journey on her website.

Here Van Den Born shows the process of creating one of her photos, taken at a temple that was actually located in Amsterdam. 

The lessons here are as follows:

Next time you come across photos on social media of tropical holidays, don’t feel sad. They could be fake.

Every time you see a photo so beautiful you think it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Also, never trust anyone ever.

Van Den Born shows the process of faking her holiday in these two photos.

How far would you go to prove a point?