Pippa Peploe is having a moment of uncharacteristic indecisiveness. Usually she knows exactly where she wants to go on holiday with her family – where the cognoscenti are going but with better views and a bigger pool. She has just pulled off a huge financing coup with a private equity firm for her eponymous accessories line, and she needs to remind her husband and children what she looks like. But alas, life is no longer so simple. She now has 67,000 other people to consider in her choice of holiday – her Instagram followers.
Where will Instagram best this summer, Pippa wonders. Not Morocco, which is trending heavily – you can barely scroll through your 10 most recent posts without coming across a clichéd souk shot or a minaret against a peachy sky. She’d quite like to do Italy but, though it may taste delicious, rustic food looks depressingly prosaic in pictures.
Pippa’s husband Lars favours a private island, but one looks very much like another – all blissful expanses of white sand and same-y turquoise seas – and any exclusivity would be lost without 10 judicious hashtags telling her followers exactly where she is to reveal that it’s reassuringly expensive. The children, who have barely seen their mother since Courchevel at Easter, are no help – they just want a pool with unsightly inflatables. Their vote, thankfully, doesn’t count.
Pippa’s stress levels don’t improve when she and her family arrive at their Caribbean paradise – all vibrant colour combos and interesting high-low-life juxtapositions – and she sets about styling their outfits for the next fortnight. They all resist her best efforts to make them look fabulous and succumb to sunburn on day one, which blows the hand-holding-jumping-into-pool ensemble shot Pippa had planned.
Still she perseveres with her own five outfit changes a day. She needs to keep her posts fresh, natural and occasionally a little “off-message” to demonstrate humour. Her own look has to be fashion, fashion, fashion but also off-duty cool – which isn’t always easy when Andreas, her PA and rock, isn’t there to act as a constant selfie stick in human form.
While Lars and the children take to the pool, Pippa spends much of the day in her room working out how best to artfully display her new bronzer – #instabeauty #summergorgeousness #thisislandlife – and which new bikini will go best against the duck-egg blue sunbeds. When she does finally make it poolside, she constantly shifts her lounger until she gets a perfect palm-tree shadow to fall across her carefully arranged thighs – a pic that could easily have been re-grammed from Heidi Klum’s account, if she does say so herself.
And if all this selfie curation wasn’t tiring enough, at the end of a long day, when Lars falls asleep to the familiarly persistent clicking of his wife’s iPhone, Pippa stalks around their lavish plantation house looking for House & Garden-style still-lifes to capture. Even her children are awakened from their slumber by their mother’s flash as she steals into their rooms and snaps them being #adorable #mybabies #sweetdreams.
When the final post of the day has been uploaded and Pippa has counted her “likes”, she sits in the bathroom in the dark and checks her friends’ feeds, bestowing approval with carefully considered discernment.
It is only then that she reaches the darker shores of Instagram. Here she checks out her nemeses: the magazine editor who fired her years ago; Lars’s ex-girlfriend who has five children and no stretch marks; her old business partner who founded an online fashion empire recently valued at $2bn. Pippa goes to bed feeling awful about everything from her lack of thigh-gap to her net worth. She has eyeball burn and RSI in her scrolling finger.
Two weeks later, as her family stroll through Heathrow with cornrows in their hair and reggae on their iPhones, Pippa staggers behind them – bleary-eyed, frazzled and pale. It’s the most exhausting holiday she’s ever been on, she tells Andreas when he calls. He needs to book her two weeks at a spa retreat. Somewhere she can completely relax. With great views and attractive locals. And super-photogenic food.