A social media personality is speaking out after being slammed by critics for sharing professionally-shot photos of a motorcycle accident she had in July, with some accusing her of staging them for the ‘Gram.
BuzzFeed News reported this week on a series of images posted to Instagram by Nashville-based lifestyle influencer Tiffany Mitchell that depicted her lying on the side of the road after a crash. They were taken by a professional photographer who was along with her for a planned shoot prior to the crash.
The artfully composed photos show her lying on the ground and being attended to by another friend who was riding with them. The crashed bike is upright in the background and two helmets are next to her head on the ground. Neither of them is the sparkly silver one she posed with in another photo that was taken an hour before the accident.
A bottle of SmartWater appears in one of the photos with the label facing the camera, as is common in sponsored posts like another of Mitchell’s featuring partner Bai. In the caption, she describes suffering minor injuries, but they cannot be seen in any of the shots.
After the post started getting filled with negative, accusatory comments, Mitchell pulled it off her feed. But it was screen-captured by BuzzFeed and featured in its article on June 19.
Mitchell denied staging the photos or trying to turn the incident into a “brand campaign,” and said she did not have a partnership with SmartWater, which the company confirmed.
Many observers pointed out that her outfit – a tank top and baggy, intentionally torn overalls – wasn’t proper protective motorcycle riding gear.
Mitchell, who lost a partner in a motorcycle accident three years ago, claimed she shared the story with her followers with good intentions, not for sensationalism.
The BuzzFeed reporter wrote that Mitchell requested that she not run the story because it would “draw negative attention.”
On Tuesday, Mitchell posted a new Instagram story with additional details and photos showing different angles of crash scene, her injuries and damage to both the helmet she was wearing and the motorcycle.
She also added a post with a photo of her on the bike wearing a helmet and leather riding jacket that said, “When I work with brands, they’re ones I personally enjoy, and I disclose every single sponsorship. Accusing someone of faking or exploiting an accident is extremely serious—because what if you’re wrong? It really happened to me, and I was scared. I really was injured and had to recover.”