"Ms. Hilton You Must Be Worth A Trillion Bucks"
Millennials hail the 90's as their golden reign, the last true decade of “It Girls” while Gen Z has trouble remembering a time without Google. The advancements of the internet have been astounding and even Boomers would find it hard to live without the joys of the World Wide Web but if there's one thing we're nostalgic about, it's the demise of the It Girl culture. Where other social networks tried and failed, Instagram has succeeded in demolishing a culture we once knew and celebrated so consider this an ode to a long gone era, Paris, Nicole, Lindsay, you'll forever be in our hearts.
A Brief Lesson in History
Once upon time, before Instagram and before we were able to see every square inch of a celebrity's life with the click of a button, there once lived the It Girl. She never asked to be elevated to such a title, she simply was. Hounded by paparazzi, she was revered for her mischievous attitude, her unique sense of style that could only be described as a car crash by todays standards. But most importantly, we celebrated her, warts and all. She wasn't perfect and we didn't want her to be, she did the things we didn't dare do and we watched on, enthralled and unable to look away. Notable It Girls from the 90's included Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie, whose ridiculous antics on The Simple Life were so divorced from the reality of the country folk they stayed with. Lindsay Lohan, with her reckless drink driving, incarceration attempts and feuds with other celebrities could not go unmentioned and neither could the ever changing nose of Tara Palmer Tomkinson as her cocaine habit and subsequent collapse of her nose due to her problem, dominated the tabloids for over a decade. Yes, this is who the It Girl was when she was first formed. But fast forward two decades and while the term is still used, she is barely recognizable.
As Instagram appeared on our horizon, girls world over saw their opportunity and seized it with both manicured hands. Here was their chance to grab the limelight and put themselves in front of the entire world, hoping and trying as best they could to gain that coveted title of It Girl. They now had the opportunity to showcase all their talents, from outfit inspiration to makeup tutorials, fashion hacks and fad diets.
Those that grabbed the world's attention en masse ended up being models, scooped up by the fashion elite such as Gigi and Bella Hadid, the Kardashian/Jenners and even Cara Delevingne. But even though they managed to obtain the It Girl title (for a while at least) she had already morphed into something different. Celebrated for her perfect features, her flawlessness and her “cool” factor, these were not the original criteria for the It Girl. Times had changed and while the press still pursued them, there wasn't much need, they were already doing the paps work for them, uploading intimate details about their lives faster than the paps could ever hope to. Unlike the original It Girl, she didn't ask to be in front of the camera, but this new form actively chose it and with it, came the ability to edit, filter and portray a certain kind of unattainable perfection with her every move. The original It Girl was like a car crash we couldn't look away from but these girls were practically perfect in every way and they wanted us to know it.
Once Instagram had really exploded with A list actors and singers, businesses joined the follow train too, many now don't even feel the need for business cards, it's all “here's my instagram handle if you want to get in touch.” The initial excitement of finding the next It Girl on Instagram began to dwindle and as if overnight, our feeds were filled with “Influencers” those who wanted to be elevated to the same status as It Girl/Model. By this stage, the original It Girl definition had mutated beyond recognition, each girl's ploy simply to show the life of a beautiful girl, the one you'll never have, in the hopes that we'd follow simply out of envy. Imperfections were none existent (or more accurately, never posted) and so it seems the world is full of flawless hotties that only make us feel bad about our own flaw filled lives.
With everyone and their Grandmother now calling themselves an influencer, they all morph into one big sea of robots, indistinguishable from one another, captivating us with their “perfect” lives and detrimental to our self worth, yet we know in our hearts they couldn't possibly be faultless. We know it's fake, we know it's not true but in the same way with the original It Girl, we're hooked none the less. Today's influencer will never have the same pulling power, the same relatability as the imperfect creatures of the '90s and the demand for highly curated content is too strong to ever look back. And so, it is with a heavy heart, we finally say au revoir to the It Girl of the past. May your crazy antics and ludicrous actions never be forgotten.
Article Commissioned by Mod'Art University of Shanghai