to these two teen models, instagram is more than a hobby

Joanna Kuchta and Elizabeth Jane Bishop, 19-year-old model BFFs, are redefining the use of social media—one selfie at a time.

by Zio Baritaux
10 July 2015, 9:55am

In a post on Instagram, friends Joanna Kuchta and Elizabeth Jane Bishop pose as Cher and Dionne from the movie Clueless. Like the characters in the film, Joanna and Elizabeth have become style icons—but for a generation that spends more time online than at the movies. "There are so many good things that came out of my excessive use of the Internet," says Joanna, who was raised in Poland but now lives in Ireland. "I met my boyfriend and my friends on the Internet!" But while Cher and Di were, well, clueless, Joanna and Elizabeth are exceedingly self-aware and cognizant of how they present themselves to the world. Through their deliberate approach to social media, they have each developed a following of more than 500k on Instagram (and their posts, such as a photo of Joanna pulling Elizabeth's hair, average more than 50,000 likes each). But Joanna and Elizabeth, a university student and "creative," respectively, use Instagram as more than a place to post pretty pictures—they use it to develop their unique personal brands, and this has led to real-world success. Modeling agencies discovered the girls on the photo-sharing app, and Joanna was signed to Anti-Agency and Elizabeth to Elite. In this interview with i-D, Joanna (who is blonde and tends to wear white) and Elizabeth (a brunette based in London who and will wear black "even if it's 20,000 degrees") talk with us about social media, sexuality and their secrets.

How did you develop your personal brand through social media? What's your secret?
Elizabeth: I've always taken pride in what I post—so maybe that's my secret?
Joanna: I always liked taking photos of my outfits and coming up with cute compositions. I'm way too lazy to be a fashion blogger, 'cause writing about your outfit and how many cups of coffee you drank in one day whilst putting it into correct grammar is way too tedious. At the start, I just took photos of things I like—some cute intimate objects, my clothes, my boyfriend and me. I still do that, but I like to make it look prettier with good lighting and composition so it all matches. I also use Twitter a lot, and sometimes I think I should be embarrassed about my tweets, but then I realize that I don't give a frick. So my secret is just being me.

Do you put a lot of thought into the way you present yourself online or is it more spur-of-the-moment?
Elizabeth: I think it's important to take pride in everything you do. I'm a perfectionist, which can be a blessing and a curse, however, I'd rather be this way and be proud of myself looking back at my work than not putting in the effort. So a lot of time can go into my posts.
Joanna: Yeah and no. I tweet whatever, but visually, I'm a perfectionist. You don't know the pain of taking 200 similar selfies, but not uploading any of them 'cause there's a stray hair in your face.

Social media is definitely a form of self-expression. But do you think social media is an art?
Elizabeth: Social media is what you make it. Some people simply use it to share their lives and adventures with friends and family, others use it to express their creativity and artistic values. I wouldn't define social media as "art," but you can definitely utilize the variety of platforms available to express your attitude, personality, style and creativity.
Joanna: Social media can be art. It can be comedy. It can be political. Then there are people who use it for communicating with their pals and they think everything I post is complete nonsense. I love the artistic side of social media, because it is so current and inspiring. I've found so many talented and visionary people on Instagram. I wanna befriend them all.

Social media has become a tool for young women to express themselves, and often, to explore their own sexuality. What do you think about sexuality and social media?
Elizabeth: I was born in a town where people were very closed-minded about sexuality and being different, so a lot of people never really got what I was about—I never have or ever will label my sexuality. I'm equally attracted to girls as I am to guys, and I've always been this way. I guess once I joined social networking and became part of this community, I realized I wasn't alone in feeling this way. I felt a lot more comfortable in myself and I think it's important for other people who feel this way to know they aren't alone either.
Joanna: It's empowering. If it weren't for some badass feminist posts on Tumblr, it would have taken longer for me to become confident in my body and comfortable about natural things like nipples and body hair. I'm so happy that girls are beginning to explore their own sexuality, rather than conforming to the male gaze. I like the way I see less people talking about what men like in women, and in turn, focusing on women being happy with their own bodies.

How did the two of you meet?
I first started talking to Joanna when we discovered each other on Twitter. We first met when she traveled to the U.K. on holiday and happened to be in Birmingham, which is close to where I live, so we had a sleepover in her hotel.
Joanna: We nearly got kicked out of the hotel for messing in the gym. It was so fun though!

From head to toe, describe your perfect outfit.
Elizabeth: Anything Moschino or Versace.
Joanna: I like all white, and I'm feeling '70s, so maybe high-waisted white flares that hug your booty, a white tube top and white chunky heels.

What's your best piece of advice?
Once you learn to love yourself, everything becomes easier.
Joanna: I'm so bad at advice. Just be yourself.


Text Zio Baritaux
All images courtesy Elizabeth Jane Bishop and Joanna Kuchta

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