A public platform born of a sixth-grade girl’s dream to inspire people.
Though it currently boasts over ten thousand followers, sophomore Savannah Strieter’s Instagram profile — @savstrieter — came from humble beginnings. Strieter’s account first emerged in middle school with the handle “God’s Little Princesses,” claiming a support base of 98 followers.
Colored by a middle schooler’s enthusiasm, the account’s initial posts featured themed pictures and phrases structured and branded by Strieter herself. Over the years, even as Strieter’s account has undergone a series of name changes and aesthetic decisions, the heart behind her platform has remained the same: to inspire people through authenticity.
However, the decision to maintain authenticity within her account and its content has not been an easy choice.
“I hate vulnerability a lot — which is kind of an oxymoron because that’s literally what my entire platform is about,” Strieter said. “But it has taught me just how important (vulnerability) is in general, and how it can impact other people and … teach you a lot about yourself.”
Even as she struggles with the more difficult aspects of vulnerability, Strieter has found that her favorite posts are the ones which reflect her ideas and heart most authentically. Strieter recalls one post in particular which voiced frustrations surrounding her faith and Christianity in general — calling for a change to be made in the church and among believers.
“i cannot stand the thought of having a platform and then just sitting back and watching us be “fluffy” and never talking about things that matter. when I call myself a Christian, I want to mean it in the truest form,” she wrote in an Aug. 4 post.
Although she initially felt a sense of isolation when posting those thoughts, Strieter found after publishing her post that others resonated with her frustrations. This experience reinforced for Strieter the importance of vulnerability and encouraged her to continue pursuing authenticity on her platform.
The most recent change to Strieter’s Instagram username reflects her desire to continue pursuing authenticity. The shift from @theprettybible to @savstrieter prompted mixed reactions from the account’s followers but was something Strieter felt she needed to do in order to better pursue an authentic space.
“… my platform had grown a lot, and I was starting to view it as branding — and that’s not what I wanted by any means,” Strieter said. “The content’s not changing much at all, but it (will be) more of an outlet for me to be really real and authentic.”
The decision to change her social media handle cost Strieter 200 followers and taught her a life lesson: following convictions may not be popular — and that’s okay.
Strieter explains that now, if something is on her heart, she just “puts it out there” — good, bad or ugly — in an attempt to continue promoting vulnerability through the content she publishes.
“I find the ugliest posts to be the ones that resonate with people the most,” Strieter said. “The posts where I post (something) and just have to put my phone away because I am horrified of what people are going to say … those are the ones I get the most DMs about.”
Strieter also receives regular direct messages (DMs) from individuals who have been positively impacted by the content she has published. Although the goal of her platform is to inspire people in both faith and life, Strieter recognizes any form of inspiration comes not from her but from the Lord.
“That’s the really cool part: I get to see how God works through me in this platform even when I don’t feel like I’m making any impact at all,” Strieter said.
To illustrate this, Strieter described an encounter while on vacation in Florida with a woman who recognized her and then approached her to share how Strieter’s account had impacted her life.
As she continues to come across individuals both online and in the day-to-day who have been inspired by her platform, Strieter feels equal parts grateful and undeserving.
“My sixth-grade self honestly had no idea what it was going to be like today — couldn’t have even guessed that this was even an option or something that was going to happen,” Strieter said.
Since its middle-school conception, Strieter’s platform has been widely recognized by individuals and companies across the nation. Strieter has had the opportunity to be featured on a podcast and has done several collaborations with various brands — most of which are Christian labels.
Collaborations featuring children’s Bibles, Christian subscription boxes and Prone to Wander phone cases offer Strieter a chance to promote other Christian businesses through her platform. Strieter explained that she only agrees to do collaborations which align with her values and goals and will resonate with her online community.
Looking forward, Strieter hopes for the courage to continue forming a space that is vulnerable, faith-based and inspiring.
“I want to just be me more,” Strieter said.
Thinking of the opportunity others have to create these spaces online, Strieter encourages others to use social media as a platform to promote hard, honest conversations.
When using social media as an outlet in this way, Strieter emphasizes the importance of “being real” with content that is published.
“Instagram is such a highlight reel of people’s lives,” Strieter said. “And when you can make it into a little bit more of a holistic image of yourself, it’s good for you and it’s good for everyone who interacts with your page.”