Liv Phyland on dealing with the fall-out from Instagram ‘fakeness’

Whether you’ve watched her on television, follow her on Instagram, or just spotted her with surfboard in tow down at Bondi Beach – one thing is very clear about Liv Phyland… she practically radiates energy and positivity.

Meeting her at a GoPro media event last year, Liv was very much the same in person as what she appeared – with an enthusiasm that was both inspiring and contagious. Which of course meant I was dying to chat to her to find out more about what made her tick (or shine, I’ll take ticking and shining).

Not shy of spreading the glow word around (in fact, she’s launched a company with friend Teigan Nash literally called Girls Who Glow), Liv was only happy to chat. With Girls Who Glow holding an event for the company today – we thought now was the perfect time to chat everything from life behind the feed, to dealing with social media’s effect on self esteem, to producing mindful content…

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Liv! I was on a kids show on ABC3, and for about the last 3 years now I’ve been on The Loop – which is with Channel 10. When I’m not doing that, I have to be doing something – from the moment I wake up until 11pm at night. I’m in the water like twice a day and I love surfing (although I’m not very good at it!), yoga… I cram a million different things into my day and I think that’s what is establishing my brand. My brand is very much about what I do everyday and that just happens to be outdoor activities and adventures.

It’s really nice to watch it organically unfold, posting exactly what is real to you – and that in turn creates your image or your brand. It attracts jobs, opportunities, or even things like for example, becoming part of the GoPro family… purely because you love to have fun and that zest for life.

You’ve also started Girls Who Glow. What’s this all about?
They are workshops for young girls on health, wellbeing, and mental health. It stems from my background before I got into presenting – I did psychology and then online integrative nutrition, so that allowed me to become a health coach. I’m also really passionate about balance and being really happy – being the best version of you.

When I was on the kids’ show, I had a lot of young girls messaging me with so many body and self esteem issues and anxiety and depression issues that it just got to the point where I realised that I needed to do something. This is my audience, and this is what I’m passionate about… if you combine all these things, I knew I needed to be doing workshops for teenage girls.

And it also comes back to one of the main reasons why we need this, and it’s because of social media. It has so many pros to it, but there’s just so much fake out there. I look at myself and I am confident in my own body and don’t have self esteem issues, but I still find myself mindlessly scrolling and accidentally comparing yourself to someone else’s life, or their body… and I think – imagine young girls who are flooded with these images and don’t know any different or the truth behind them. No wonder why they have no self esteem.

What do you do to try and prevent this with your own account?
I think I personally try so hard with everything I post to make sure it’s something that I’ve actually done or it’s something that I actually believe in or I’m passionate about. It’s just snippets of my life that are quite positive and uplifting, but I’ve always vowed to never photoshop a photo. That ties in with the main message of teaching young girls to just always be aware of this perfect life or this perfect body – because it’s not real. It’s so heavily edited.

When I came to Sydney – going to events I couldn’t believe it, you sit next to people who will take a photo of themselves and then spend the whole event FaceTuning themselves on the app and watching their image change completely. I was talking to one girl and it wasn’t until half an hour later when I saw her phone light up and there was a photo of her on her background that I realised I’d been following her for years and we knew each other through social media. I had no idea who she was in person.

I am very clearly passionate about it – Instagram is about portraying the things that I love. I’m very lucky that my Instagram isn’t my job… my job is as a presenter and my Instagram is more like a colourful scrapbook of my life that if it inspires others, then that is great. But then I do have to be mindful… I was talking to a friend the other day who’s a PT for some celebrities and she said: “I agree with you, but when it is 90% of what is driving your business, then of course you will put up photos that will get more likes”. And I thought ‘yes, I suppose that’s fair’. For example, she is really ripped and said every time there’s a back shot of her, she will get so many more likes and in turn that gets more followers – and that’s where her business comes from. And I thought, ‘okay, I kind of understand. I have to be open-minded.’

Do you ever find that you’re taking part in an activity (such as surfing) just in order to get some good content for the Gram?
I think sometimes it does work hand-in-hand. I never set out to do something purely because I can put it on social media, but sometimes something will come up and I think that would be great for my brand, that would suit my image – whether it’s an event or something.

In terms of day-to-day things, it’s more of the fact that I get up and I want to go for a surf and I’ll often have my phone there and have the beach… so it’s not the driving force, but the fact that I feel the need to post about it is probably not ideal, but it’s what I’m doing. It’s funny with Instagram Stories when I document my day because it is quite active and a real mixture of different things from surfing and then doing work at home, and then going into hair and makeup, and filming something, then going to an event, then going to yoga… It’s very diverse and quite balanced, I find it nice to be able to tell that story very authentically.

But my answer to the question is most of the time ‘no’ – I do things and just happen to film it. But sometimes if an opportunity comes up and I think that will be great content to post – then obviously like perfect, it’s a winner!

All images: Liv Phyland

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