With its focus primarily on encouraging women to break free and be their real, unfiltered, and flawed selves, Ottawa, Ontatio based Live Life Unfiltered (LLU) is a one-of-a-kind organization that is changing social media. LLU is a movement designed to remind young women that behind every perfect picture, caption, filter, and story on Instagram, there’s still a woman dealing with her insecurities, bad days, and struggles. LLU intends to bring balance to our feeds. By posting simple, professional headshots, accompanied by statements that speak truth to the real lives pictured, LLU tells the story behind each selfie. It is not only helping women accept themselves the way they are, but also helping them heal from within. Well on its way to bringing a paradigm shift in the way women look at themselves, LLU and its co-founders, Keisha and Teagan Simpson, are fighting tooth and nail to turn self-esteem issues upside down by helping young women (and all) RELATE rather than COMPARE.
We talked to Keisha and Teagan Simpson to learn more about their vision, purpose, and future goals.
Changing the social media narrative Keisha & Teagan: “We founded LLU, a social media movement encouraging young women to be their real, unfiltered selves 4 years ago. It encourages women to post an unfiltered photo and pair it with a caption that is also real, raw, and unfiltered. Our motto is #AsSheIs Campaign, Let’s Learn to Relate instead of compare. Social media is significantly linked to anxiety, depression, body image issues, and suicide. LLU and our #AsSheIs Campaign was created to combat this. In today’s world, there is so much pressure to post photos and videos that depict a life full of perfection; we live in a culture where there is an expectation to constantly portray yourself as living your best life. Which, as anyone can imagine, is exhausting and extremely detrimental to one’s mental health. Our mandate is to remind women that Instagram is often not a realistic representation of who we are as individuals. Our vision is to change the way we use and interact with social media, not to remove it.”
“The toughest challenge we faced was overcoming our own fears. Were we going to fail? What were people going to think? Is this a stupid idea? Are we naive to think that we can make a real difference? We were fortunate to have the support of each other and our family and as twins and co-founders, we were embarking on this experience as a team which allowed us to take turns leaning on each other. Having a community that loves and supports you is so important to be able to go the distance.”
From struggle to liberation Keisha: “Teagan and I grew up struggling with our body image and feelings of anxiety. Comparing ourselves to the perfect, happy, and confident girls on Instagram was extremely difficult. While scrolling through social media we often felt anxious that our lives were lesser than those we saw online. Over time, we realized that these comparisons were unfair, recognizing that the photos were often filtered, posed, and carefully selected. In 2018, Teagan and I teamed up with university students and launched the movement LLU.”
Getting started is the key. The path will unfold. Keisha: “As university students, we had a very limited budget but from the very beginning, our dreams for the movement were big. We believed we could make an impact but we understood that to do that, we needed help from those with the greatest influence…social media influencers. Our #AsSheIs Campaign involved the participation of many influencers and typically brands pay a lot of money for their participation. However, we did not have this kind of money available to us. (For example; if you look at the influencers who we worked with, and if we had paid them the going rate, it would exceed $1.5 Million for their involvement.) Fortunately, through hard work, we connected with influencers who understood the importance of this message and they were willing to participate in kind (no fee). We had an advantage here because we were young and ultimately our message was not to promote our self-interest but to help our culture be brave enough to share their authentic lives on social media.”
Bigger the challenge. Greater the Triumph Teagan: “The toughest challenge we faced was overcoming our own fears. Were we going to fail? What were people going to think? Is this a stupid idea? Are we naive to think that we can make a real difference? We were fortunate to have the support of each other and our family and as twins and co-founders, we were embarking on this experience as a team which allowed us to take turns leaning on each other. Having a community that loves and supports you is so important to be able to go the distance.
On our journey to bring the change we want to; we have gathered the below feathers in our cap:
• Top 25 Women of Influence Award - Awarded to Canada’s most influential women of 2020.
• Various media highlights including our TEDx talk. Most recently, Teagan was featured on BBC, to share her expertise on social media and how it affects young women, after the infamous Facebook hearing in Fall 2021.
• The campaign has gone viral, reaching hundreds of millions of people, and involving 100’s influencers including Canada’s First Lady, Sophie Gregorie Trudua, Singer/Songwriter, Alessia Cara, Bachelorette Becca Kufrin, Olympic Gold Medalist Penny Oleksiak, and more. Women have participated in 60 different countries.”
Next Steps Keisha: “Right now, we are taking a breather and figuring out our next steps. We’ve been at this for four jam-packed years and right now, we are taking a step back to figure out our next move. Teagan is currently getting her master's in Organizational Psychology at LSE in London; which will likely play a role moving forward.”