The quest for this picture-perfect lifestyle isn’t only financially crippling for some — recent studies have found that it’s contributing to mental-health issues.
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This story originally appeared on Business Insider
Some millennials say they’re sinking thousands of dollars into crafting perfect Instagram photos.
This week, The New York Post reported the story of Lissette Calveiro, a 26-year-old who racked up $10,000 of debt trying to become an Instagram star.
Calveiro says she splurged on designer handbags, expensive clothes and luxurious vacations while working low-salary jobs, including an internship in New York.
She told the Post that she would shop for clothes “to take the perfect ‘gram” and that she was living above her means.
“I was living a lie,” she said, adding: “Debt was looming over my head.”
Calveiro said a lot of the travel she did “was strictly for Instagram.”
Instagram has created a generation of consumers obsessed with making their lives look perfect — and some are apparently spending thousands of dollars to do so.
For some, this leads to big payoffs. Successful influencers can earn thousands of dollars per post and may be even more influential than other celebrities.
For example, Lauren Bullen, 24, and Jack Morris, 26, a well-known travel-blogging duo, say they make a six-figure salary traveling the world together. In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan, Morris said he wouldn’t post for less than $3,000 from a sponsor.
But for others, the lifestyle can be financially crippling.
Calveiro told the Post that “nobody talks about” their finances on Instagram.
“It worries me how much I see girls care about image,” she said.
Calveiro added that she had “a lot of opportunities to save.”
“I could’ve invested that money in something,” she said.
The quest for that picture-perfect lifestyle isn’t only pushing some Instagram users into debt — it’s also contributing to some broader cultural issues.
The U.K.-based Royal Society for Public Health recently named Instagram the worst social-media app for mental health. Its study of almost 1,500 Britons ages 14 to 24 found that young people were most likely to associate Instagram with negative mental well-being and feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
“Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people’s mental health issues,” Shirley Cramer, the CEO of the organization, said in a post on its findings.
Instagram isn’t the only thing to blame — the obsession with image existed long before the app exploded in popularity.
But a study published in 2012 by the American Psychological Association that looked at 9 million young adults over 40 years found that millennials cared more than previous generations about money and image.
“The proportion of students who said being wealthy was very important to them increased from 45 percent for baby boomers (surveyed between 1966 and 1978) to 70 percent for generation Xers (surveyed between 1979 and 1999) and 75 percent for millennials (surveyed between 2000 and 2009),” a press release about the study said.