Why is it really important to have a popular image on Social Media these days? Are followers and why are ‘likes’ the only thing teens strive to achieve?
Early in 2012, I was given an opportunity that could change my life forever. If I wanted and I took it but at a cost. Some people may know me but for those who don’t well your opinion means very little.
My name is Gary Talbot I grew up in Ballyfermot, Dublin.
I became the first ever Irish Male Model to walk ‘London Fashion Week’. In less than one year I had featured in over 100 publications including GQ and British Vogue. I signed campaign deals for brands such as Tomas Sabo and German online superstore Miinto and ranked as one of the most sought after faces in Indian fashion.
My whole life changed and I felt unstoppable, but I wasn’t.
I had a very strong run with the international fashion industry. I’d offers from every corner of the globe. TV productions including BBC had all pitched ideas and proposals. An ordinary person would have jumped on most of the things I refused, even though it’s what I always wanted I had such a fear of becoming famous or too recognisable, but that’s what I wanted. It wasn’t all good, I had just as many declined offers but I never looked at it as a loss just an experience. Every time I returned home to Ireland I felt so deflated and disappointed at myself but I love Ireland and the people. I couldn’t understand why I was getting so much attention and work away and so many opportunities handed to me, yet Ireland never really noticed what I could do or what I could be or even what I had done. When I began to model I could only think of a few Irish Male Models who I wanted to be on par with. A few were Sam Homan and Carl Shaaban who dominated the Irish scene and also Karl Bowe for his dedication and hard work but I just never felt like any of my success mattered.
With not getting the response I really wanted in Ireland I began building my different Social Media pages in the hope of getting more recognition. I started a blog then Instagram and then a Facebook account, anything to promote myself and get consumed by popularity not realising that all of this means nothing. Everywhere you turn you see teenagers taking selfies and glued into phones and checking the volume of likes they get on each post. I can’t lie, Social Media has given me a lot in return but it still doesn’t fit into reality. I know I sound hypocritical because I do post those perfect pictures and luxurious locations at times but I also make it my business to post real content and show that I’m not this perfect person in pictures, in fact, I’m just normal. I recently had my whole back covered in a tattoo and the real reason was to cover scars I was left with from years of acne. I shared the truth and had so many teenage lads say they have the same problem and that they were glad I wasn’t afraid to speak about it and that’s a huge problem in today’s society nobody is speaking anymore.
I just want to highlight that nobody is perfect and it’s not important to be Social Media popular.
I was reading an article of a young boy who committed suicide due to bullying but what they didn’t highlight was that it was cyber bullying. Could you imagine never being able to escape a bully especially if they are in your phone. They always see ‘bullying’ in these tragic stories but I’ve seen it first hand if you can’t live up to this perfect Instagram or Facebook lifestyle then your just not cool enough.
Not everyone can afford to post the popular jewellery items at Christmas or the new shoes daily and that’s enough to have you considered as unpopular. Again I know it’s hypocritical because I feed stereotype by posting different situations but that’s just work it’s not real it’s made to look good to be appealing but it’s not. I have had everything, good and bad said to me on social media if I was in anyway vulnerable these things would have seriously impacted me. So here I am a successful Model a Business Man and a popular status online, I have it all. I broke boundaries it’s not what you think it is just be yourself and be successful at that. Stop worrying about likes and followers, start focusing on reality.
I look at younger Models who have great careers ahead of them and I commend all the new Irish Models who are killing it in the Fashion Industry like Caoimhin O’ Brien and Dylan Moran but because of what people think of me on Social Media they assume I envy them or try compete and I really don’t. I know I have a lot of people who don’t like my work and don’t think I deserve anything and that’s fine that they have an opinion, but you don’t know me you have never met me I’m not what you see online I’m not what you think I am. I hope eventually people will become less judgmental and less obsessed with these petty things. I know I was judgmental and pressured but now I really don’t care I’m still doing what I love I’m still building my platform and I’m still going to be me.
2016 was definitely a year I’ll never forget. One shoot in particular really changed how I see myself. I’m not the most confident person in the world and nobody will criticize me more than myself. John Murray shot some headshots for me and I learned a lot about how I look and that we all see something different in ourselves he posted a shot of me unedited and I saw a completely different person, he’s one of the reasons I feel this post is important for you all to read so thank you John.
I recently reached out to a young new talented photographer Hannah Corcoran to help me with this post. Hannah has a great style that I love that. She captures a lot of rawness and I wanted a shoot with her to show myself as natural as possible. No makeup, no styling, no hair or smoke and mirrors just natural light. I wanted to do this because of the confidence I gained with shooting for John. I knew shooting with Hannah would be something outside my comfort zone but a shoot that I will always love. So thank you Hannah.
The point behind all of this is that you don’t have to be something you’re not to be good at what you do. Don’t fall victim to Social Media and don’t judge anyone before getting to know them. I honestly have nothing bad to say about anyone in this industry or anyone I don’t know in person because I know that a picture online doesn’t reveal more than what you want it to. I hope 2017 is everything you all want and more.
Happy New Year.