What's the buzz about ugly photos on Instagram?

It’is What's the buzz about ugly photos on Instagram?

Photo taken from the Instagram page of web personality Emma Chamberlain

Gone are the perfect brunches, trips and lattes on Instagram, welcome to photos of trash cans or old sandwiches and dodgy screenshots. Far from an ultra polished aesthetic, the fashion for the dilapidated and the banal has made its way onto the popular platform. Métro looked into the phenomenon. 

While the majority of Instagram users continue to show themselves flatteringly in photos, we are indeed seeing a new trend which comes in total opposition to what was previously popular on the social network. 

“The individual tends to want to share joyful moments, present themselves in an advantageous way, so when scrolling through Instagram, it can feel like life is perfect for everyone. It can be irritating for people who see it, who come to feel dissatisfied with their life, ”believes Emmanuelle Parent, co-founder and general manager of the Center for Online Emotional Intelligence, doctoral student and lecturer in communication at the 'University of Montreal.  

In reaction to so much perfection and so many images that depict an ideal vision of everyday life, we want to show the real, the banal and even the ugly, she explains.  

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A post shared by Constance Massicotte (@constancemassicotte)

Nostalgia, nonchalance and banality 

According to social media management expert Roxane Nadeau, “there's a certain nonchalance to this new aesthetic on Instagram” that echoes the early 2010s, when social media really started to take off. extent and where we were less in control of our virtual image.  

“During the pandemic, we returned to the fashion for photo dumps which brings us back in the early days of Facebook, when you went to a partywith a digital camera, that you took 74 photos and that you put them all in a photo album without asking yourself any questions”, she underlines. 

Emmanuelle Parent also associates the resurgence of photo dumpingduring the pandemic to a desire to document the banality and the everyday without seeking to sublimate it.  

“When people were confined to their homes, they had no outings to document, she explains. They weren't going through anything significant, so the photo dump provided a flood of mundane images of their lives.” 

An aesthetic of the ugly 

It is also a generational phenomenon, believes Emmanuelle Parent. Generation Z wants to reclaim and get rid of the codes established by Generation Y on social networks. “Young people tend to break with the practices of their elders to have a sense of belonging and develop their own identity. Any punk movement is set up by young people in reaction to a status quo which, in this case, is beauty on Instagram,” she recalls.

But even this fashion is not not completely spontaneous, underlines the expert. “It is also a construction, a choice in the way of representing reality. You shouldn't judge a person's life based on their photos, even if they look more authentic.” 

The practice of shitpostingis particularly well thought out and aims to create a comic or surprise effect by integrating washed-out, poorly compressed images or screenshots into a photo carousel where there are also more polished photos.  We also see some people choosing a grunge aesthetic in which both the subject of the photo and the photo itself are “ugly”. Dirty streets, garbage cans, graffiti then become subjects that deserve to be photographed.  

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A post shared by Laurie Anna (@zinz0u)

Does ugliness sell? 

Instagram being a powerful marketing tool, will this fashion be used in advertising?  “The commercial potential remains to be proven,” replies Roxane Nadeau.  

“Brands with a young target audience, who work with content creators, who want to look avant-garde, have every advantage in going in this direction if it corresponds to their personality”, indicates for her part Emmanuelle Parent.

“By the informal and banal nature of these photos, we has the impression of entering into the person's private life, of getting to know them better, which could benefit those who sell their influencer brand”, she continues, specifying that she has not seen any. examples for now.  

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