Online Influencers: August 2016
Trending hashtags and visual microblogs are valuable indicators of what moves consumers. In tandem with our monthly Pop Culture Round-Ups, we assess key directions emerging from social media and highlight the influencers driving them.
- Every Body is Normal: Consumers are demanding wider perspectives and more diverse representation in their visual media. As Teen Vogue talks about de-stigmatising the female cycle on social media, it is evident the body positivity movement is evolving to take a 360-degree view of our bodies and how we inhabit them.
Loveyourlines is an Instagram account that extends body positivity beyond size and shape, zooming in on the likes of stretchmarks, scars other body markings. Submissions are kept in greyscale to create a sense of universality. GirlsWithVitiligo provides a platform for people with the skin condition.
At the same time, body positivity can be a fraught issue for the trans community, with many of its members experiencing a profound misalignment between their bodies and their identities. Leo Sheng is an Asian-American transgender man and trans advocate who has been chronicling his transition to bring awareness to his particular identity, and illustrate that every journey is entirely individual. Trans_shoutout shares self-submitted images of transgender women, while TransandInked increases visibility of trans bodies by intersecting with tattoo culture.
- Fake Personality Accounts: Obviously fabricated social media personas formed around dolls and highly edited photography are taking the place of human faces to comment on the artifice of social image culture.
Since appearing on Instagram in April 2016, Lil Miquela has amassed 68,000 followers. Like many of her fellow influencers, the recent LA transplant shares pictures of herself at galleries, snide asides on current events, various memes and screenshots from shows she's binge watching. However, Lil Miquela is not real, at least not entirely. The person standing in as Miquela edits her selfies to make herself look like a CGI doll with glitchy eyes and textureless clothes, while backgrounds and other people remain untouched. Posts from celebrity Instagrams are peppered into the account to highlight uncanny likenesses between her artifice and theirs. So far, no one has publicly claimed ownership of Miquela, and even though the persona exists only on Instagram and Twitter, it has already been featured in Dazed magazine online.
Other creators who are building personas from scratch include Placeunknown, an art project by an anonymous man featuring a chiselled poseable doll that explores beauty standards among gay men, and Vee Filez, a brand ambassador for New York City-based boutique VFiles that happens to be a Bratz doll. Meanwhile, Barbie Savior plays more of a straight parody angle similar to Socality Barbie, to challenge the White Saviour Complex and 'voluntourism'. Finally, ADollWorldAfterAll re-enacts moments of pop culture using Barbie dolls for 40,000 followers.
- The Commercial Potential of Collage: In a continuation of last month's 'nowstalgia' accounts, Instagram collage artists are combining pop culture moments in shareable single panels, and brands are deploying this image culture for their communications. Benjamin Seidler is a NY-based illustrator whose Instagram capitalises on meshing contemporary high fashion with nowstalgic classic pop culture. Works such as a Mean Girls x Vetements crossover have afforded him the attention of Vogue Australia as well as Prada.
Dutch fashion house Viktor & Rolf has commissioned UK-based Adam Hale to create a series of collages for the brand's Instagram under the hashtag #collagecouture, and UK-based artist Rosanna Webster created a small digital spread of her work around fashion magazine covers for Dior. RS Theory is an illustrator based in LA whose dense collages have been featured in the New Yorker. Finally, NY-based artist Kalen Holloman has gathered nearly 100,000 followers for her surreal commercial art parodies.
For more on how the broader scale of representation and visual mash-ups are impacting consumer attitudes, read our Pop Culture Round-Up: July 2016.