When content creator Farhanah Firdaus and lawyer Afif Che Had went on their first date in 2016, she decided to stop by a 7-Eleven first. She led him to the magazine section in the convenience store so she can show him an article that was published recently.
“There was an article about me and I wanted to use it to explain to him what I do as an online content creator,” Farhanah, 25, said.
Afif, 28, wasn’t aware that content creators thrived on social media. He also recalled not having an Instagram account.
“I guess you can call Afif an old soul. He has no inclination towards social media,” she said.
Farhanah, on the other hand, has over 170,000 followers on Instagram under the handle FaaFirds and her YouTube channel has over 73,000 subscribers and the videos have garnered about eight million views in total.
Afif decided to turn to YouTube to learn to operate the camera that Farhanah used for work before his next date with her.
“We were walking and then he asked, ‘Have you taken your OOTD?’. He offered to help me take a photo of what I was wearing so I could post it on Instagram later,” she said.
For the uninitiated, OOTD or “outfit of the day” shots are a staple for a content creator like Farhanah who focuses on topics like lifestyle, beauty and fashion. Afif, in his research to understand Farhanah’s social media career, didn’t waste time picking up the lingo.
“Yes, I’m a fast learner,” he said with a laugh.
That’s when Farhanah became aware of Afif’s potential as an Instagram husband.
The two eventually got married in 2017 and to this day, Afif is happy to be known as an Instagram husband to a popular content creator.
“I’m proud to say that I’m the only one in my circle who is an Instagram husband,” he shared.
Behind a woman’s nicely-shot photos is most probably an Instagram husband with a smartphone.The term ‘Instagram husband’ is reported to have become popular because of a viral YouTube video by the channel The Mystery Hour.
Released in 2015, the clip depicted miserable-looking husbands talking about how they often have to find the time to take photos of their spouses using their smartphones.
Fortunately, it seems that some men in Malaysia are far from miserable when it comes to adopting the role of an Instagram husband.Afif, a criminal lawyer based in KL, shared that he has been developing his photo-taking skills and expanding his awareness about social media for Farhanah.
“I think there is more to being an Instagram husband than just taking photos. I live with the fact that my wife is a content creator. During my free time, I will gladly help my wife with her content,” he said.
Since getting married, Afif has gone from being the man behind the camera to making regular appearances in videos uploaded on Farhanah’s YouTube channel.
Afif can be seen travelling with Farhanah to participate in Internet challenges like eating mystery-flavoured jelly beans.
“I think my followers like seeing my husband and I together in videos because they coined the hashtag #FaaFirds for us,” Farhanah said.
Going the distance
On a scale of one to 10, Penang-based marketing and communications executive Terry Neoh scores himself only a “one” when it comes to being an Instagram husband.
“(Taking photos of my wife) feels like a difficult task. I think it’s more difficult than taking exams,” Neoh, 38, said.
Thankfully, his wife, music teacher Sherlene Qua, 29, takes a more light-hearted approach when it comes to posting pictures on Instagram.
She has learned from outings where they spent a lot of time taking pictures of each other that it’s not easy to achieve Instagram-worthy photos.
“I didn’t really have any expectation of him being an Instagram husband. He’s been very nice to offer to take photos of me but I always decline,” she said.
Neoh then decided to invest in a smartphone with better camera features and even spent time watching videos on how to take better photos.
And Qua is happy with the results. “I guess it felt good that I can actually look nice (in photos) as I think I am not a photogenic person,” she said.
He is not the only Instagram husband that is willing go the extra mile to get the perfect photo for his significant other.
Indonesian IT consultant Handy Djauw, 27, has been living in Malaysia for more than five years and his wife Fellicia Tanner, 26, has a collection of stunning Instagram travel photos that were mostly taken by him.
Tanner explained that Djauw is the one who takes the initiative to research and plan trips to Insta-worthy places.
During a trip to Cappadocia in Turkey, Djauw planned for them to have a photo taken at a spot made famous on social media.
“There is this hotel that prepares a fake breakfast on the balcony for guests to take a photo with a gorgeous view that overlooks hot air balloons flying over Cappadocia,” she said.
Even though they got there at 4.30am, there was already a very long queue.
“People were crowding the spot. Eventually, I got everyone to form a line and said we have to take turns if we all want to be done with our shots,” Handy said.
The couple got their shot at 7am and Tanner was happy with the result despite the long wait.
Before settling down, Tanner said she did want her significant other to be someone who can take nice photos of her.
“I feel very lucky that I have him because some of my friends feel that their own boyfriends or husbands are not as supportive (when it comes to taking photos),” Tanner said.
Djauw explained that he did not set out to be an Instagram husband.
“I just wanted to take nice photos. Of course I’m also really happy to have a supportive wife,” he shared.
Freelance producer Astra-Imelda Elizabeth Yapp, 33, said her fiance Budiotomo Othman, 41, is in denial about his status as an Instagram husband.
Yapp explained how he went from being clueless about taking photos to someone who can offer guidance on poses and angles.
“I believe he knows that he’s an Instagram husband but he won’t admit to it. Instead, he’ll just say ‘If it makes you happy, I’ll do it’,” she said.
Marriage in the digital age
Petaling Jaya-based marriage counsellor Faith Foo said compromises are important in a relationship where someone functions as an Instagram husband to fulfil another person’s need to create social media content.
“Couples need to work out a balance. Consider the other person’s emotions when it comes to certain postings. If someone is a more private person, then learn to respect how they feel about not being a part of your social media experience,” she said.
Dr Christian Kohlross, a Kuala Lumpur-based mental health therapist who also does marriage counselling said having a shared understanding about social media is always helpful.
“If it’s an important part of your life, then of course you’d want your partner to be on the same page. That goes without saying,” he said.
He has seen many men adapt to the role of Instagram husband, with some even starting to see it as something positive.
“They are manly enough to say or think ‘I support my wife in what she’s doing ...’ and why not? Why shouldn’t we respect that?” he said.
However, Foo warned couples not to make social media the centre of their life.
“For young couples who just got married, social media could become a problem because they may have not spent enough time to truly get to know each other,” she said.
“We know a lot about every other person’s life thanks to social media but somehow we forget to learn about the people who are really close to us.”
This could result in a foundation that’s too shallow to build a long- lasting understanding relationship, she added.
As for Neoh, he and his wife agreed to never let social media dictate how their lives should be. Meanwhile Yapp said her fiance reminded her to not get caught up with the number of likes and followers on Instagram.
“I can see where he’s coming from because some people compare themselves to others on social media. He wanted to ensure I post for the right reasons and not be too critical of myself,” she said.
For those looking to mould a partner into an Instagram husband, Farhanah’s tip is to make the process fun.
“If you want to take a photo at a particular place, tell your partner that there’s exciting things to try, like food. Make it part of a fun outing. Don’t just give him the camera and expect a photo to turn out fine. Show him how you want it to be taken,” she said.