“When you have a tourism industry driven by images of people riding elephants… or holding sloths [in Ecuador] then you have a public that thinks ‘I’m going to Costa Rica, or I’m going to Thailand to do that one activity’. It’s very detrimental because you have people travelling to places simply because they were promoted on Instagram.”
Riding elephants is another classic Instagram which gets her goat – because the animals are often kept in bad conditions.
But despite her reservations, Raymond says she has no plans to leave Instagram. “Even though I lament the way it is, I don’t know if I’m in a position to completely abandon it,” she says. She is, however, changing the way she ‘Grams – her recent posts show longer, thoughtful captions, and there isn’t a floaty dress in sight. Her most recent photo, from Costa Rica, shows her ziplining in black leggings, yellow anorak and safety helmet.
Never let others’ assumptions about you define who you are. As a black woman who looks young, is somewhat petite in stature, is very “smiley”, and enjoys makeup and fashion, people judge me before I even open my mouth. Assumptions are made about my level of education (I have two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s, thank you very much), my life experiences (I’ve lived and worked in 6 different countries on 3 different continents, led teams and generally kicked butt), and my upbringing (I was very lucky to grow up solidly middle class, with parents who supported me emotionally and financially). People also, as I’m beginning to discover, make assumptions about my travels, presumably because of the way I look. ???? But little do they know that this “girly girl” is not only a lover of the great outdoors but of adventure in general. For I’ve camped in the Serengeti and the Amazon, ziplined in places like China, Costa Rica, and India, jumped out of a plane and off of a bridge (not bad for someone who’s afraid of heights). And, while these legs may look amazing in heels, they’ve hiked in terrain as disparate as the Himalayas and the Hudson Valley; they’ve also helped me finish four half marathons and train for a full. Can you imagine I accomplished all this without breaking a nail?! ???????? All joking aside, people’s narrow assumptions of who you are and what you can do are just that– assumptions. So screw the box folks try to put you into. Instead, keep doing you, living your best life, and crushing your goals, whatever they may be. And always, always define yourself. What are things people have assumed about you? (Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica)
Superficial and vapid. That’s Oneika Raymond’s take on Instagram, the influential Instagram star says she’s tired of the pressure the photo app puts on women – especially the female travel Instagram sector.
Nothing surprising, you might say – all those floaty maxidresses and floppy hats never exactly screamed authentic. And now, like the lifestyle and fitness Instagrammers who’ve renounced the ‘Gram this year for encouraging unrealistic expectations and creating worlds that don’t exist, it’s her turn to turn the focus on travel.
Question: is it customary in your city or country to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home? Where I grew up in Canada, taking your shoes off is customary– I had the same experience when I lived in Hong Kong. Any time I’ve visited my husband’s family in Germany I’ve taken my shoes off and left them at the door as well. However, I notice that in the USA many people don’t seem to do this! So I’m curious. Let me know what city/country you’re from and whether you keep shoes ON or OFF when you enter a residence!
With an Instagram following of just under 31,000 and a job that enables her to travel all over the world, Raymond – a travel writer and influencer – has the kind of profile and lifestyle many would die for. Yet in a post this month, she told her followers she was “kinda over” it.
“I’m disheartened by how similar, superficial, curated, and (dare I say) vapid many travel feeds have become (mine included). Especially in the female travel space,” she wrote.
“It’s no longer enough to tell a story and post an awe-inspiring landscape – it won’t get likes. Trust me, I’ve tried.
“Instead, the winning formula for us ladies seems to be something similar to this photo: one in which we’re perfectly posed (usually facing away from the camera), in a flouncy hat (especially if we’re clutching the brim), and wearing a flowy dress. Extra points if the dress is brightly coloured, has a bohemian feel, and is off the shoulder.”
Get ready for the new wave of travel Instagram.