For Smutty Social Media, I scour as many Instagram accounts as I can, and this means not just actors/musicians but also models, nightclub owners, hair stylists, magazines, assistants, friends-of-celebs, and brands. More often than not a really big celeb – like say George Clooney – obviously won’t be found on his own Instagram account. He doesn’t have one. I’ll find him through his tequila brand Casamigos or his friend Cindy Crawford. When that happens, it’s sanctioned.
Yesterday, the Olsen twins let us find them on Sephora’s Instagram account. It’s a promotion for their Elizabeth and James fragrance line, Nirvana. First up: a selfie.
I see a lot of selfies. A lot. This one is excellent quality: no half cut-off face or awkward eye line (the sunglasses help) and really we should rename this filter “Olsen”. As deeply uncool as it is, I think they used a selfie stick – the shot looks too wide to have been done manually. Looking at this, I don’t think it’s the first time the Olsens have selfied. It may be the first time we’ve seen it, but it looks practiced.
The caption: First public selfie ever (with emoji).
According to HuffPo, the caption was edited, with someone deciding to cut out “Rise and shine.” Good move. The Olsens don’t strike me as “Rise and shine” people. Out of the 8 photos posted, 6 did not even feature Mary-Kate or Ashley (but clearly, it’s supposed to be from their perspective).
It’s just a selfie, who cares! Millions get posted every day! Well that’s where this one differs -- the Olsens are obviously averse to any sort of overt self-promotion. When a reality star builds a brand on social media and posts a selfie, it is no big deal. When extremely private and talented designers post a photo, it can be interesting. MK and Ashley have made their presence such a big f-cking deal that when they show up on the red carpet, or on Instgram, or at the MET Gala, it’s worthy of the extra attention because they are unique, and never desperate. They hold so much back that when they parcel out little tidbits, like showing us their lunch (a light chicken salad), it’s elevated from the dozens of other food posts we see. Same with the hand showing off the beauty mood board – no manicure and a possible shot of Mary-Kate’s wedding ring. That’s a detail that matters, because we know so little about them.
So the Olsens eat salad for lunch and don’t have French tips. None of this is groundbreaking. What’s interesting is the strategy behind it. When they wanted to promote and pique people’s interest, they knew exactly how to do it: by showing the world their lunch. Even if they don’t engage in that world, they know it exists.
Many prestigious designers have personal spaces on Instagram – Riccardo Tisci from Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Donatella Versace, Zac Posen. It’s a visual art, so it lends itself to a visual medium. I wonder how the Olsens view this democratization. I feel like Anna Wintour herself could join and still the Olsens would abstain, and we don’t know why. Maybe they legitimately don’t care for it, maybe they find it distracting , maybe they are obsessed with it and secretly creep under an assumed name. They made clear though that this takeover was a one time thing, literally captioning that this was the “first and last day.” It’s the smart thing to do to protect their very hard-earned reputation. The Olsen brand is the opposite of social media. They don’t want you to know what they are doing, or thinking, or feeling, even in a superficial way.
They are an enigma in the era of the overshare. More than privacy, it seems that they don’t want or need people to know THEM. They don’t crave that sort of adulation and attention. They don’t need to document every moment of their life because in a fictional universe, that has already happened. The Olsen twins are not even 30 and they’ve already fed that beast. Unlike many child stars, they actually satiated it.