The Girl Behind the Gram

For this month's edition, we speak to Hunter aka @whitemaggotsss. The Hong Kong-based model-cum-DJ tells all on mental health, body confidence and life beyond the internet.

Hunter: I’m Hunter and I’m a model based in Hong Kong. I also make films, write, and want to start making music! I don’t really know how I would define my style; I went through so many phases growing up and get inspired by so many different aesthetics. I find it hard to categorise myself. I would say my biggest influences are Victorian/Renaissance goth aesthetics (from my MCR days), 90s kinderwhore, Y2K mean girl, and a splash of anime. I’m also pop culture trash.

What was the reason for starting your Instagram?
Hunter: Honestly, there wasn’t really a big reason beyond it was just something people do. It’s kind of like a rite of passage for the Gen-Z kid; first, you get your Facebook and then you get your Instagram account!

I actually started my IG in 2015, which was a little later than my peers. When I was 10 years old, I accidentally threw my pink HTC phone in the washing machine and as punishment, my parents didn’t let me get a cool smartphone for like three years.

YEOJA Mag - The Girl Behind the Gram: @whitemaggotsss - Written by Leonie Wessel
Photography: Carol Tam/HBX Women

Who do you want to reach with your account? What kind of community do you hope to build through your followers?
Hunter: I aspire for my account to be the greatest fandom of all time. I hope we will one day be greater than the Swifties.

Is there a message you want to spread with your Instagram presence? What do you want to communicate to your followers?
Hunter: I don’t really have a defined message that I want to spread. I guess partly because I’m still trying to figure myself out. I do try to speak out about issues, things I care about, or things that are unjust! Sometimes I feel – given that my social media platform isn’t even that big – I wonder what type of change I could even bring. There are some experiences I’ve had that I would love to share someday but I want to wait until I’m also comfortable with being vulnerable online.

YEOJA Mag - The Girl Behind the Gram: @whitemaggotsss - Written by Leonie Wessel
Photography (left): Hokk Fabrica
Photography (right): Hunter

Who or what is your biggest Instagram inspiration and do you see yourself as an inspiration for others?
Hunter: I would say that the friends I’ve made through Instagram or other models I’ve worked with in Hong Kong are my biggest influence. Only because I know how hard they’ve worked and watched them grow their platform from the start.

I think it’s more inspiring to see people at a stage in their life I could realistically see myself reaching in a couple years, rather than, someone that has 100k followers, owns a side business and travels to five new countries a week. I don’t know if I am an inspiration to others. I hope so lol. I hope people look at my account and think “whitemaggotsss is a skinny legend.”

YEOJA Mag - The Girl Behind the Gram: @whitemaggotsss - Written by Leonie Wessel
Photography: @sundaeimage

Instagram is a big source of inspiration and can connect all different kinds of groups. It can also be dangerous, i.e., comparing yourself to other people on Instagram whose feeds may or may not depict ‘reality.’ What are your feelings or experiences with this?
Hunter: I had a really bad phase a couple of years ago where I became literally obsessed with comparing myself and my follower count to other people. It was the first thing I did when I got out of bed and the last thing I did before I slept. I honestly think it’s because I’m quite a meticulous and obsessive person in general (#justcapricornthings) and I’ve always been competitive and aspired to be better.

Sometimes it goes a little too far, especially when social media makes it so easy. At that time in my life, I was feeling quite terrible about myself – and life in general – so it just manifested in this weird phase. I think most of the time if you’re comfortable with yourself and where you are in life, then you wouldn’t be so easily affected by social media. Obviously, we can’t all be happy with ourselves all the time, so I like to tell myself this little mantra:

You’re THAT bitch and you need to get off your IG and go take some kinky nudes for yourself to remind yourself that you are a hot bihh. (Or read a book or bake cookies if you’re not into that).

YEOJA Mag - The Girl Behind the Gram: @whitemaggotsss - Written by Leonie Wessel
Photography: Li Kai Yi

Some Instagrammers use the platform to share their lives with others and to share what they are working on with the world. Others use it as a diary for themselves or for clout. Some people run their accounts for fun, others view Instagram as a business tool. What are you using it for?
Hunter: I guess I’m using it as a business tool? I get most of my jobs/opportunities through Instagram so I guess that makes sense. I mean I do aspire to get invited to the Oscars by 2024 so I need that social media clout base to jump off from, lmao. I really like using IG as a way of finding inspiration from other artists and connecting with new people and make pals! I also use it to send memes to my friends.

Social media has given a platform to women from communities who previously did not have strong voices (i.e. women of colour). Is this something you think about in general and for your own account?
Hunter: This isn’t really something I thought about or considered until I read this question. I guess most of the time when I use social media, I’m just using it casually to post [pictures] or look at other people’s posts without giving any further thought to it.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I suppose a major source of my personal style (and confidence development) over the last few years could be credited to having my own Instagram and seeing other creatives on the ‘gram. Even though I don’t consciously realize it, just being in a space where other women of colour are able to freely express themselves also gave me [the] courage to explore and live my true life.

YEOJA Mag - The Girl Behind the Gram: @whitemaggotsss - Written by Leonie Wessel
Photography: Carol Tam/HBX Women

As for many others, Instagram is a big inspiration source for you. Can you tell us the accounts that influenced you and your style the most?
Hunter: One of my favourite accounts has to be @sateenmusic! I love Ruby and Queenie’s style. I think they really helped me with my body/self-confidence when I first discovered their account.

I also really like Devon Lee Carlson’s IG. I think she has a cool vibe. I also really love the accounts of my favourite drag queens, Violet Chachki and Pearl, for makeup/style inspiration.

How did you get over the “comparing phase” you described to us? What helped you and what would you tell other girls who have the same problem?
Hunter: I think what kinda’ helped was distracting myself with other projects and working on my own stuff. When you’re distracted, you kind of just naturally get over it. It still comes up once in a while, but as I said earlier, it’s way more indicative of my mental state at the time. Social media is just bringing out the worst in it. I think that this ‘phase’ or mindset is kind of inevitable. Social media almost thrives on this competitive energy so we stay using it to one-up each other.

YEOJA Mag - The Girl Behind the Gram: @whitemaggotsss - Written by Leonie Wessel
Photography: Elly Cheng

Would you say your experiences with Instagram are mainly positive or negative? And Why?
Hunter: I would say it was mostly positive? Even though I think IG is kinda trash in some ways and people really are doing all sorts of stuff for a drop of clout. I’ve also had a lot of opportunities through Instagram and made new friends. IG is also a great way of sharing your art and find new inspiration, so it’s really a 50-50 thing.

Do you have serious plans on making Instagram a business one day or just keep it as a communication and inspiration tool?
Hunter: If I get famous then yes, lol, of course. I’ll be gunning for that Sugar Bear Hair sponsorship.

YEOJA Mag - The Girl Behind the Gram: @whitemaggotsss - Written by Leonie Wessel
Photography: Hokk Fabrica

Many fashion models are chosen by brands after they reach a certain number of Instagram followers. So as a model, your Instagram account is basically your portfolio. Do you keep this in mind when you post? Does it affect your behaviour on the platform? And what do you think in general about this follower number/booking connection?
Hunter: I was lowkey having a crisis over this like three days ago. I don’t think it dictates what I post but it does make me think more about my follower count and stuff, which I don’t like.

To be honest, I was talking about this with another friend of mine recently and we came to the conclusion that in some ways, having more followers doesn’t always make a difference. It’s more about what you’re able to make of it since there are tons of kids with hella’ followers but they don’t finesse the game.

Also, I know if I had more followers I could probably get more work and opportunities … I don’t know. When we start the revolution to overthrow the bourgeois and redistribute the wealth, we could also redistribute followers.

You grew up with Instagram so it was a normal step for you to become part of the Instagram community. How did it influence your life outside of the platformm? Can you imagine not using it anymore? How much time/impact does it have in your daily life?
Hunter: I don’t really remember a time when social media wasn’t a part of my life, so I can’t really imagine not using it anymore. It didn’t really influence my life outside and I don’t think it’s [had] a major impact in my daily life. To be honest, I’m only 19, so I literally can’t remember a time where Instagram wasn’t a prevalent part of society. I don’t really have anything to compare it to.

YEOJA Mag - The Girl Behind the Gram: @whitemaggotsss - Written by Leonie Wessel
Photography: Myu Inoue/Tocksick Magazine

You said that you’re doing film and music in addition to modelling. Do you think about pursuing this professionally?
Hunter: Right now I’m taking DJ lessons and have my first set next month! I’m really excited since it’s for an arts event and I’ll be able to curate a full experience. Making music, for me, is kind of a pipe dream but I would love to do like space/alt rock. Maybe when I’m a famous cool person, I can just switch lanes, pull a Tom Ford, and decide I want to start making movies. (Unless anyone reads this and wants to hire me for their movie-making projects, lmao, you know the @).

You’re based in Hong Kong. How is your style influenced by this overwhelming city? Can you imagine living somewhere else? If so, where would it be?
Hunter: There are only like two mainstream fashion styles in Hong Kong, so no I’m not influenced by the city. I’ve never lived anywhere else before or travelled to any of my ‘dream’ cities, so I can’t really imagine my life anywhere else. I think maybe, London? In this French vanilla fantasy, I’m a rich successful business lady, so I’d have a studio apartment in New York City and a house in a nice European country.

Follow Hunter on Instagram. For more Girl Behind the Gram, click here.