Everyone Except Rihanna Embraced Instagram Photo Dumps In 2020

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It’s been the year of the photo dump, a practice that involves grouping several different photos together into a casual caption post. Everyone from Hadids to D’Amelios has entered the action. But like most things in life, it could not be declared a certified trend until Rihanna acknowledged its existence. (In other words, most of us never go mainstream.) Alas, Friday was the day RiRi looked at celebs and influencers’ photo dumping and said, “No thanks.”

Well, she actually wrote “phuck a photo dump” along with one (1) photo of herself in a cherry print bikini, a pair of mini-Chanel bags and curly mullet that you think you can pull yourself out until you remember that you are not actually Rihanna.

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Prior to Rihanna’s praise of photo dumps, they were part of our feeds. It was as if 2020 seemed so impossible that instead of curing an ounce of aesthetics or choosing a single photo to encapsulate our mood, we decided to lean into all our emotions at once. Embracing chaos meant sending more snaps and hoping it added something. Call it social media strategy or an expression of the insecurity that rages inside – we did a lot of photo dumping this year.

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This content is imported from Instagram. You may find the same content in a different format, or you may find more information on their site.

This content is imported from Instagram. You may find the same content in a different format, or you may find more information on their site.

It should be noted, however, that when I say “we” posted photo dumps, I do not mean everyone. (Not even myself.) Photo dumps are typically shared by one of two types of people. The first is your Pinterest-loving aunt from Iowa, who shares 56 photos in a Facebook album documenting every second of her trip to Disneyland. Her mass upload is less about artistic messages than it is an inability to work with technology.

Then there are celebrities whose photo dumps emit an air of superior relaxation. In a given post, a blurred selfie is followed by an honest photo shoot, then a grainy meme presented without context and concludes with a photo from the front row at New York Fashion Week. This aggregation of objectively cool images next to seemingly normal is anything but unintentional. We can not be bothered to post online daily, these posts seem to say.

Like a relative’s album “Disney July 2011”, the IG photo dump is just as vaguely marked. “Random!” Bella Hadid caption about her collection of fashion-y images. SZA casually writes, “Photo dump. I’m around,” along with a picture of herself in a metallic two-piece ensemble. A more honest representation of these posts would have been: “Photos I looked hot in but could not find an opportunity to post.”

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The photo dump completely falls short of IG trends like #pillowchallenge (shaking) and the two-day period where celebs edited small versions of other famous people with rhyming names on their bodies. By giving off the energy they do not spend all day rolling or rethinking what they want to send, photo dumps have crept that things to attend. For example, has there ever been a greater flex than Ariana Grande burying a full front view of her engagement ring from Dalton Gomez in fourth slide of a post? How about protecting a photo of Stormi Webster and Travis Scott in the fifth castle à la Kylie Jenner?

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I will write with confidence to Sophie Turner who says: “Felt we needed some content on this page … enjoy these recalls” along with a rarely look at her pregnancy, selfie with a lemur, and and three Joe Jonas pictures. Or Slave Play‘s Jeremy O. Harris, who has launched a daily “CORONAVIRUS 🦠 MIXTAPE” series that regularly surpasses itself on the chaos spectrum.

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Still, I know I’m more Midwestern-aunt-after-a-tropical-vacay than Sophie or Saweetie when it comes to sharing photos. In 2020, I was lucky enough to wash my hair regularly, let alone bend my heat on slide six of a post with the caption “Things of Life 😌.” But just like the Cool Girls on Instagram ushered in an era of photo dumping, they take off via Rihanna, the patron saint of chicness. However, as 2020 ends and celebs rediscover the gems did not create their net, expect an influx of random snapshots.

Sorry in advance for RiRi.

Editorial colleague
Savannah Walsh is an editorial board member at ELLE.com.

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