There’s something about Bali that makes people become deep and reflective, or at least makes them want to appear like they’re deep and reflective. Only Swedish model Natalie Schlater knows if she was being the former or the latter when she wrote the caption to this photo that ultimately drove the influencer off of Instagram, but commenters made it clear that it only made her appear insensitive and shallow.
The photo, uploaded to Schlater’s Instagram account last week and tagged as being shot in Canggu, shows the blonde Swede wearing a white bikini and looking out at a rice field, where a farmer can be seen working in the distance.
Her caption to the photo, “Thinking about how different my life is from the man picking in the rice field every morning,” did not go over well with her 12,000 followers, hundreds of whom made comments blasting Schlater for her perceived insensitivity.
“He works for a living is a start,” wrote one. “The rice farmer is probably more content with their life tho and not status chasing like the rest of us,” and “Narcissism, idiocy and apathy combined,” wrote others.
One brutal burn twisted her original caption: “Just thinking about how I’m so popular and rich and this guy is a rice farmer.”
Before deleting her account, Schlater wrote put up another post on Instagram in which she tried to defend herself:
I seem to have been extremely misunderstood in what I meant previously. I am very aware of my privileges and how grateful I am for all that I have in my life and was recognizing how hard working and unbelievably kind the Indonesian people are and never meant to come off disrespectful. That being said I am so sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings which was never ever my intention. Please be kinder to one another and spread kindness and not hate.
That apology apparently wasn’t enough to stem the tide of outrage and Schlater decided to delete her Instagram account soon after. Speaking to Bored Panda, she said: “It really breaks my heart to see this photo turned into a different light then it was originally meant to be, I have always loved the Indonesian people and their culture and overall attitude towards life and the people who come to visit their country.”
She added that she works hard at her normal day job to save up enough money to go on trips as she did not come from a wealthy background, as it may seem on social media.
“People are always entitled to their own opinions and I don’t want anyone to think that I want to be pitied, but my honest original caption really did mean that the man has worked so hard his whole life for so little and I wanted to acknowledge how we really take the things we have for granted. I completely understand that my caption can be taken wrong because of the social climate we live in today and if I could go back in time I wish I would have just worded it differently.”
Schlater is far from the first social media personality to get slated for being insensitive in Bali. At the very least she didn’t have herself photographed posing inappropriately in or climbing up on one of the island’s sacred temples.