beauty

A bikini model has made a startling confession about the truth behind her Instagram pictures.

If you haven’t heard of Natasha Oakley before, let me introduce you.

Tash (the nickname she prefers) is an Australian bikini model with an online following nearing two million people. The co-owner of ‘A Bikini A Day’ – a business that markets swimwear to social media clientele – with best friend Devin Brugman, Tash is described on her blog as a “bikini connoisseur”.

Her Instagram page, as you would expect of someone who carries such a title, is flooded with sunny beach side snaps.

Each and every image, a glowing display of golden sun-kissed skin, sand, perfect boobs and salty hair, yields tens of thousands of likes. With them, come jealousy-laden comments and praise.

A photo posted by Natasha Oakley (@tashoakley) on

“Ugh she’s so perfect I can’t,” writes one teenager on an image of Tash in a crocheted white bikini. “This should be our goal for next summer,” shares another on an image of the navy-clad Sydneysider sprawled on a towel.

And yet, as flawless as Tash’s body is (so flawless that it pays for her lifestyle), apparently, it’s still not good enough.

After an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph on Friday, it has been revealed that the 25-year-old retouches the images her young fans so admire.

“I think that everyone is doing [it] because of what they see in the media,” Tash told the publication. “I think the general population are just trying to follow exactly what they see with pictures being edited.

“I feel [the pressure to look good] — I’m a human and a natural curvy woman! But for me, it’s really more about feeling good in myself, and healthy and fit.”

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A photo posted by Natasha Oakley (@tashoakley) on

Upon reading Tash’s words, my stomach churned. Here is a woman so genetically blessed that she has millions of people fawning over her, yet so self-conscious she dusts over her photographs with a hint of retoucher here, a dab of skin smoother there.

Of course, this isn’t Tash’s fault whatsoever. If I had the Daily Mail‘s seedy paparazzi critiquing my every feature on Bondi Beach, I’d be hyper-aware of my body too.

In July, a writer at the publication decided to pen an entire article about Tash’s “cellulite thighs”. Close-up shots of her bum were featured throughout (yes, really), with captions like: “The blonde siren looked a little less pert in Miami on Monday.”

Why this information is classified as “news”, and not “stalking” is another issue entirely. But if this is how we judge one of society’s most conventionally attractive women, what hope is there for the rest of us – the non-models?

We are stuck in this labyrinth that tells us our bodies are not skinny, smooth, or taut enough. And the more we try to technologically nip-and-tuck our every lump away, the more we give credence to the ludicrous suggestion that cellulite necessitates intervention and removal.

It doesn’t. We are women, and at all sizes we have lumps and bumps. The more we unapologetically show them online, the less the Daily Mail will consider their existence as “news”.

Natasha Oakley, you are freaking beautiful just as you are. I hope you know that.