The other day, I was eating popcorn with m & ms in it (because Halloween candy leftovers, you know. Side note: I wasn’t high.) and taking a stroll through one of my favorite girls’ Instagram profiles. One of her pictures is a promotional post for a teeth whitening product and in the caption, she tags the company’s profile as well as makes a little joke about how she whitens her teeth to make herself attractive so that some guy will take interest in her.
And I’m like…okay??? You’re beautiful. But besides my opinion, you have more than 100,000 followers on Instagram. For the most part, that number is a result of your beauty. I follow you on Twitter and I’ve seen all of the people tweet about how gorgeous you are. YOU RETWEET THEM. You’re not ugly at all.
Some might argue that there’s a possibility that she’s genuinely insecure, but I don’t believe that. She is literally making money off of her looks because if it weren’t for her attractiveness, she wouldn’t have a lot of followers and if she didn’t have a lot of followers, she wouldn’t be able to make money from promotional posts. I’m not insulting her at all – I love her. But with that caption, she is trying so hard to be relatable. So. Hard.
Why is this a thing, though? Why do Instagram models try to fabricate this illusion that they’re “just like us?” Besides the aforementioned girl, last week, a girl with over 500,000 followers on Instagram named Essena O’Neill went viral for editing her Instagram photo captions to reveal the “truth” behind her fame. She also announced that she’s quitting social media.
She explained in her edited captions that she made money from promotional posts, that her pictures were carefully posed and planned, and that the Essena in the photographs that made her famous differed from the Essena in real life – and this was actual news to some people.
Yeah. People were surprised to hear this, for some reason.
O’Neill’s story blew up because it made people feel better about themselves. It humanized her and made her seem more like her followers who aren’t living picture perfect lives.
But if we’re being honest here, Instagram model’s lives aren’t relatable. I don’t go on a bunch of vacations to coastal cities because I have classes and a grade point average and a constant fear of the post grad life, but at the same time, I don’t go a day without daydreaming about it, so like, I have to do well in school. I also can’t afford such trips because no one is throwing thousands of dollars at me to promote their product. I don’t have a ridiculously thin body because I do things like put m & ms in popcorn and forget to go on a run some days and also, no one takes pictures of me when I haven’t eaten in hours. I don’t have a boyfriend that looks like the guy from rocket power to use as a prop in my perfectly staged photos. My pictures are mediocre because I don’t have hours to spend taking picture after picture in search of the most aesthetic one because my assignment has to be submitted to turn it in by 11:59 p.m. The pictures I post of myself don’t make headlines because I understand contouring as much as Guy Fieri understands toning down his personality.
However, the fun is found in the lack of relatability. Hey, Instagram models – we are living vicariously through you. It’s an adventure for us. And for that reason, it’s okay to admit that maybe you’re not really a Chipotle addict, as you claim. It’s okay to accept that roughly 100 percent of people would be too nervous to correctly pronounce words if they ever had the chance to talk to you. It’s okay that you live a dramatically different life than I do, because if you didn’t, my Instagram feed would only have pictures from the people I know in real life. Your pictures of the Santorini sunset with your boo thang, the pictures taken of you fake laughing because beaches are just SO hilarious, and the pictures of you modeling some product you’ve probably never used are all a nice change of scenery. Stay unrelatable, Instagram models. We love it.