In the business of bodies, Jen Selter's bottom is top of the game. To date, the 21-year-old fitness model, who is known for her belfies (or butt selfies), has accumulated a behemoth Instagram following of 6.4 million. She’s fielded offers from the likes of Nike and Lululemon, to name just two. (A single sponsored Instagram post can cost brands anywhere from $500 to more than $50,000.) She’s even the source of her own Instagram fitness trend: #seltering.
While fashion bloggers have long been the subject of self-made media stories, the age of the Couture Body has brought fitness-obsessed personalities like Jen Selter into the internet spotlight. Selter has posted fewer than 600 Instagram pics, but she’s already a star. Part of her success is her inexplicable ability to get others as exhilarated about fitness as she is: She convinced 85-year-old Barbara Walters to do squats in pearls and a skirt suit on The View. That kind of magnetism is charming, if not downright enviable. Continuing our larger conversation about body image on R29, we spoke to Selter about what it's like being an Instagram fitness idol — and whether or not she reads the comments.
So many women are inspired by you, yet feel discouraged that they don't look like you. What do you have to say to them?
I always tell people to be the best version of themselves, not someone else. Everyone has a different body, and every shape is beautiful. When I'm posting my photos, I just want to motivate people to be the best they can. Working out is not all about the outside, it's how you feel on the inside. If you're stressed, exercise takes that stress away. You put on your headphones and you're in different world. I find that it's a getaway, and it makes me feel good on the inside and outside.
What’s your workout routine like?
I work out four to five days a week — not every day; you need rest days, too. I try to work out for an hour, but sometimes only get in 45 minutes depending on my schedule. I love trying new things, and there are lots of different techniques to try right now. Lately, I’ve been getting more into yoga and learning kickboxing.
You deal with abundant criticism of your body via internet comments. How do you deal without freaking out?
Growing up, I was always bullied, so it's not new to me. It's a never-ending thing, so I learned to be strong and not to care what other people think. If you let the negativity get to you, it will drain you, and you can't really move on. It’s the positive comments and supportive messages from my followers that keep me going.
There are some creeps on your Instagram feed — has that led to real-life drama?
Not really. I think it's awesome when people come up to me and go like, "Oh, you're Jen!" I do love that. But, sometimes people will message me later, saying "Oh, I saw you, but I was too afraid to say hello." I don't think followers should ever be scared — it's really cool to meet them all.
What are your tips for taking the perfect #belfie?
It’s all about the cute gym outfit! Color stands out more, too. Find a good background with the right lighting, and boom.
Everyone has days when they feel like garbage. What do you do to bounce back?
I don't think you should work out every single day, especially on days when you feel bad. I like to be alone and go get a massage or read a book, things that distract me. I'll turn off my phone to escape for a little, because I'm on my phone so much. I should probably do that more often, honestly.
What's next for you?
I'm definitely heading to video, because that's where social media is going. I would love for my followers to get to know me beyond my photos and what I write.