Group 4

Q+A with Digi: The rise of messyposting and curated imperfection

Digi x Refinery29 on the cultural capital of photodumps and blurry digicam pics


Thumbnail and banner: Instagram @perfect_angelgirl

We spoke to Refinery29 on the rise of messy-chic and “anti-influencer” aesthetics as new models of aspiration online. Is this new way of posting authentic? Or just an undone version of the classic highlight reel staged for peak relatability points? Read what we had to say…

Refinery29: A recurring theme that’s popped up in my research for this article is the pendulum swing of cultural trends, how the general consensus of what’s cool and desirable is subject to never-ending to-and-fro. For a long while now we’ve been at a point where trendy is synonymous with casual, messy, undone. Can you talk a bit about why you think social posturing online has done a complete 180 on the highly stylised Instagram glamour of the mid 2010s that dominated for so, so long?

Digi: Messy and casual aesthetics offer a visual reprieve from highly stylised Instagram glamour of the mid-2010s, while also providing a new model of aspiration. Messyposting implies the poster doesn’t feel restricted by the urge to use social media as a highlight reel, which makes this persona even more aspirational, as many of us still post with a certain level of scrutiny and self-consciousness.

Refinery29: My key preoccupation for this piece is the fact that the anti-aesthetic, a kind of intentionally banal, transgressively messy style of image making that has been proliferating in fringey internet subcultures – think the dissociative pouts of Chloe Cherry and the praying models, the grime and grunge of ketamine chic – is being embraced by huge, glamorous mainstream celebrities. Addison Rae, Bella Hadid, even Kim Kardashian in some instances. Is this all tied into the crisis of relatability that the rise of influencers has created for mainstream celebrities?

Digi: Celebrity often relies on relevance, and right now what’s most relevant online right now is this anti-aesthetic image. So it makes sense that people like Rae, Hadid, and Kardashian would gravitate towards this aesthetic, as three women whose celebrity is still predicated on how they portray themselves on social media.

Refinery29: As professionals who work in media, and presumably have a comprehensive understanding of the underlying mechanics that inform a shift in a celebrity’s image, how much of these turns to the strange and unglamorous do you attribute to internet savvy PR and creative teams?

Digi: The strange and the unglamorous definitely draws attention on social media, so performing this aesthetic is probably a good strategy for PR and creative teams looking to create moments for the celebrity they work with. However, a lot of the figures leaning into this look are Gen Z or young millennials like Bella Hadid and Addison Rae, so it seems likely that they’re also witnessing this aesthetic on social media themselves and bringing it in as an influence.

Refinery29: What do you think the future of this kind of aesthetic in the mainstream is? Will it be short-lived or is messy-chic here to stay?

Digi: Like you said, the pendulum swings! I think messy-chic has teeth to stick around, but I can also also see forward thinking tastemakers circling back to hyper-perfect early influencer aesthetics as well.

Read the full article by Isabella Venutti here.

✨ Contributing Fairies

  • Biz Sherbert, Culture Editor 

For more content like this, explore the rest of the Digiverse, or connect with us on TikTok or Instagram. If you’re a brand or business and want to inspire your audience in innovative ways, reach out to our strategic & creative lab