[Screenshot taken by author]
Kendall Jenner was recently dubbed Teen.com’s Best Celebrity Instagrammer. So what does one have to do to earn the coveted title? Upload loads of selfies… modeling pics… Oh, and simply be a Kardashian.
As half-sibling to celebrity/ fellow Instagrammer Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner has an impressive following on the photo-sharing app. With over 7 million followers and counting, Kendall’s Instagram gives viewers a closer look at the glamorous life of a young teenager whose family is always under the spotlight. Although the number of likes that each photo gets is certainly impressive, it is a good thing? In “Branding the Post-Feminist Self: Girls’ Video Production and Youtube,” Sarah Banet-Weisner notes that girls are utilizing YouTube as a way to develop a “brand” for themselves. Like Youtube, Instagram is proving to be a useful platform for girls to share images (and recently, videos) that “communicate personal values, ideas, and beliefs using strategies and logic from commercial brand culture, and one that is increasingly normative in the contemporary neoliberal economic environment.” While it is considered a liberating form of self-expression, the act of posting content onto social media makes the poster vulnerable to criticism, which may influence the way that they post in the future. Thus, in an attempt to display authenticity, Banet-Weisner states that girls are relying more on public reception to create acceptable material. In Kendall’s case, her Instagram is filled with images meant to evoke specific responses. Photos of herself in different places such as the mall, her home, or at the pool show try to prove that she is indeed, a teenager trying to have fun; However, she maintains distant from the rest due to her status as a celebrity. Though she is already famous through her family’s reality television show and her modeling career, Instagram has allowed Kendall to become an “Insta-celeb” to young girls her age who see images of her life off the camera.
[Screenshots provided by author]
While I would usually understand that celebrities’ Instagrams typically show their private lives, it is important to note that Kendall Jenner JUST turned 18 TODAY (November 3). That means that the 1700+ photos that were uploaded before today were posted while she was still minor, which changes everything. Photos of herself in skimpy bikinis and short shorts frequent her Instagram, with innocent captions like “perfect day for a shoot by the beach!” or hashtags such as “#FlashbackFriday” and “tbt” make it seem like she’s the average teenage celebrity utilizing social media at its finest. If we looked behind the innocence of her posts, one could say that her images present her in a way catered to males. In “The ‘grotesque body’ in young women’s self presentation on Myspace,” Amy Shields Dobson analyzes the present-day behavior that females have through media. Content that is trying to appeal to the male gaze can be labeled as “heterosexy,” while images that overemphasize the body are considered to be “grotesque.” This categorization is far different from traditional forms of femininity, which Dobson states is achieved through “aesthetic traits such as ‘cuteness’, pastel colours and tones, pinkness, and delicate, decorative ‘prettiness.’” Though there are a fair share of pretty and innocent selfies, there are certain photos displayed on Kendall’s Instagram that are clearly intended for men, or even for other females to comment on how the photo is to men. Considering that these images were taken before she was legally considered an adult, the suggestive photos and amount of exposed skin in specific photos are almost borderline grotesque, because of how young she is. Thus, as a result, there is an “unavoidable distance from the viewer,” no matter how casual she tries to be when uploading such photos.
[Photo provided by weheartit]
As I scroll through my Instagram once more, I notice another photo uploaded to Jenner’s account. This time, it’s of her and a friend posing in masks, with the caption, “birthday dinner.” Photos like these are the ones that make her seem genuine and in her teens. Despite the fact that the image already has over 270,00 likes within two hours, this is a type of photo that I will frequently see on my Instagram feed and therefore brush it off as an image documenting a fun memory. Though I can sense that Kendall is not intending to display grotesque photos, the reception that is received, especially from those that are older, lead some to believe that some snapshots are inappropriate for her millions of followers to see. Regardless of the buzz, she’s now 18, aka a legal adult that is able to make her own decisions. So Instagram away, Kendall! But be sure to upload in moderation, for your safety = your sanity (and ours, too).
[Photo provided from Elite Daily]