by Kanisha Parks
If you’re not too familiar with the term #InstaBaddie, aka Instagram Baddie, bka plain ‘ol baddie—let me spare you the Google search.
An Urban dictionary definition of “Instagram baddie” will yield, “another word for an Instagram whore” while the phrase “shes a baddie” suggests, “a girl [who’s] got good qualities, and is everything a guy wants.”
Since when can you tell a girl has “good qualities” from a picture, though?
Nonetheless, you could ask 100 other people and probably get 100 different definitions, but most people would probably agree: she’s gorgeous, has amazing brows, and gets a ton of likes. While baddie is by no means a new term, YouTube tutorials that teach you how to look like one are definitely on the rise. I found at least 100 makeup tutorials for this very subject before I got tired of counting.
You might be thinking, “Well, what’s the difference between this and any other makeup tutorial?” I asked myself the same question, wondering how I could articulate my discomfort with the subject matter.
The answer is simple: other tutorials, though often inspired by celebrity makeup looks, aren’t usually geared towards teaching women and girls how to appeal to a type. An #InstaBaddie in truth is nothing more than an ideal that has been created through this social medium. And as ideals go, they aren’t really real. So what does a woman or a girl really gain from attempting to attain this ideal?
Furthermore, what effect do these videos have on viewers? Here are a few comments I pulled from one particular tutorial:
Now it takes contacts to be a baddie these days, I really can’t get with the wave. I just like enhancing what I have and not changing unless I really have a problem (like my sparse brows) . . . but I hope this isn’t gonna be a real trend in makeup, but just a pop up IG trend. I’m already pressured to fill my brows in lol I don’t want to be pressured to use contacts to feel like a “baddie” lol especially on my chocolate skin.
I get your struggle… As I open my explore page, I see all of these super tan girls with perfect bodies, boobs, long hair with lots of baby hairs, thick eyebrows, lots of makeup… I know that I shouldn’t change, but nowadays only that type of girls is considered “flawless”, “goals”, etc… Man I really hate those ig models, their only purpose is to make girls different than them insecure. Comments like, ‘holy, you’re so hot. i need to figure out how to make myself look that good!!! :)’ are super common.
Comments like these were difficult to read as it dawned on me how negative many of the responses were—heavy with insecurities and hints of self-loathing. Even though YouTubers can’t control the response that any of their videos receive, they can decide whether or not to support certain trends at all. Many YouTubers hop on bandwagon tutorials like these because it’s easy to take someone else’s idea and put your own spin on it instead of coming up with original content. But is it worth it?
A recent LipStick Alley thread also questioned these tutorials, some of the comments reading:
Dafuq even makes an instagram baddie? I keep seeing everyone do this and I’m mfn tied. Even my faves are doing it.
I’m starting to notice these girls all look the same. Poppin highlights, nude/coral lip, lashes, leggings, and a slouch cap.
Everyone is looking the same! No matter the race or color. Everyone is looking like Kylie Jenner clones or whatever white hipster trying to look ethnic started this trend.
YouTube “gurus” are truly running out of ideas. It is so bad now that I watch doll tutorials. I’m 28, with no kids and I watch doll tutorials. That’s how bad it has gotten.
OMG I was just saying the same thing there were like about four different gurus who did this video on my timeline this week #followers
It is very sheepy (i’m 20) and I try so hard to be myself and be as “original” as I can, I guess in this generation… which is impossible, because nothing is original. But at least I don’t consciously just follow anything I see.
It’s so corny. I even see gurus as young as 9th graders doing this tutorial. I wish there were more gurus doing original make up that wasn’t focused on looking good on IG but also in real life.
These days, we are becoming more and more aware of the distortion that the media constantly presents. If you include applying makeup, the time spent taking the actual picture, and editing, a single selfie can take hours of planning, preparation, and subsequent photo-shopping. It’s something we’ve come to expect from mass media, but seeing your favorite YouTuber (who’s “just like you”) show you how to be a baddie? Are we not taking things just a little too far?
Please don’t misunderstand my concerns as “hating” or “throwing shade.” All of the women in said tutorials are absolutely beautiful and beat to capacity, so no, this isn’t about looks. It’s about perception, and the responsibility that content creators have to themselves and others. We can and should do better.
As women who create content that is consumed by other women and girls, it’s important to recognize that someone else is watching, listening, and interpreting our decisions. As the next generation of young women grows up, they deserve to have positive influences that don’t teach them how to look like everybody else but to embrace their differences and realize that what you see isn’t always what’s real. One day I’ll have a daughter of my own and I’d be horrified at the thought of her learning how to be “what every guy wants.”
What if instead of 100+ videos on “how to be a baddie,” there were 100+ of “how to be your beautiful (black) self?”
Now that’s a video worth watching.