Instagram has become the new Twitter: While those who write for Twitter ponder how to form a well-worded 140-character phrase, those who post on Instagram contemplate over which filter will bring out the best in their photograph. According to Alice Marwick and danah boyd in “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience,” users described that their Twitter performance was like writing a “live diary” for their friends, or a live photo diary on Instagram (118). With so many celebrities posting on social media, regular people get to take a peek into the live diaries of specific celebrities and see how they go about their everyday life. Ellie Goulding, a famous singer-songwriter from the UK, is well-known for her upbeat, dreamlike pop music. Though many people who listen to her music get to embrace her musical talents, they may see the other sides of her by viewing her Instagram. While Ellie does utilize Twitter and has over 2 million followers, a majority of her posts link to her Instagram, showing how much she wants to present her life to her followers through her photos.
Compared to her fellow female celebrities on Instagram, Ellie presents herself as a different kind of celebrity. Celebrities such as Mariah Carey, Kerry Washington, and Rihanna seem to post a lot more photos that promote what they are working on whether it is an album, television show, or being on the cover of a magazine. Marwick and boyd also bring up Erving Goffman‘s idea from his text The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life of impression management where “individuals habitually monitor how people respond to them when presenting themselves” (123). While all users that post publicly must consider how their audience would respond to their posts, celebrities are the ones that need to take impression management more seriously considering they have a significantly greater fan base. Instagram allows followers to post comments on certain photos. Although Ellie does not reply to any of the comments posted on her photos, many comments on her photos are positive. Followers post comments like “Its true you really do love your fans lol” and “I’d like to be like you! You’re so beautiful!” Such positive comments can let Ellie know that people are happy with the content she posts and she can continue to be herself.
The great thing about Ellie Goulding is that her Instagram is multi-faceted, including both of what Erving Goffman would refer to as “frontstage” and “backstage” photos. In Marwick and boyd’s “To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter,” they say that “professional communications can be seen as a ‘frontstage’ performance” while “intimate details about one’s life are understood as part of the ‘backstage'” (144).
Her photos include beautiful, somewhat artistic photos of her performing (see below), which present her passion for her music, pictures with her fans, which show how important they are to her, and pictures with her fellow celebrities/friends, which display her prominence in the entertainment industry. These represent her more professional performance at the “frontstage.”
On the flip side, she has considerably more pictures that constitute a “backstage,” which show more candid and personal parts of her life, which involve her numerous selfies.
Rather than being “grotesque” in her self-representations, her poses and style exhibit a “heterosexy” vibe which Amy Dobson describes in “The ‘Grotesque Body’ In Young Women’s Self Presentation on MySpace.” She characterizes the grotesque body as a body that “protrudes, bulges, sprouts and branches off,” such as when girls contort their bodies, sticking out certain body parts or their tongue (8). Some famous people like Kesha post multiple “grotesque” images. However, scrolling through Ellie’s photos, we can see many “heterosexy” pictures of her, being “appealing and seductive in a feminine body” without going over the top into the realm of grotesque (9). By doing so, Ellie contributes to a more appropriate self-representation of herself.
Her additional types of photos (being in pajamas, fashion-like shots, cat selfies, kissing her girlfriends) show her taking on multiple roles: a relaxed person, a fashionista, a “cool cat,” and someone who loves her girlfriends more than guys. She isn’t sticking to one persona that could show an insincere image and possibly be molded by her manager or publicist. By displaying these multiple facets of herself, she is not only genuinely trying to tell her followers who she is as a person, she is also showing that she is still trying to make sense of her own identity by learning who she is through assuming different roles and trying different things.