On Friday afternoon, as the last long weekend of summer was starting, Jennifer Garner decided to join Instagram. Let’s back that up a second: Jen had decided before that. We’ve seen Amazing Amy at work and we know she doesn’t just decide to partake in a new form of social media on a whim, right? I don’t think Jennifer Garner does public things on an impulse. So Friday afternoon is when she decided to tell us she was ready to join Instagram.
The first post had me internally screaming with appreciation because my god, Gillian Flynn couldn’t have set a better scene. Jennifer Garner, shot overhead, arranging marquee letters to read: I am officially on Instagram! So, please follow me because isn't that how this works...? Personal, humble, polite. It involved something not exactly crafty but still very tactile, so she had an activity to complete. And her hair is wet.
The hair – that is everything. The wet hair is the essence of Jennifer Garner. We are so savvy to the filters and the facetuning and the hair extensions that this small, very ordinary act is made extraordinary in its execution. It’s calculated, but it’s also selectively candid. This is why all weekend you’ve seen affectionate headlines about her joining Instagram – Jen is “such a mom” and “adorable.”
But it’s just wet hair! OK, but when you see that wet hair, it says something. It reiterates the point that Jen is not vain or fake. It’s casual, but in an endearing way. You know who’s casual, but in a messy way? Ben Affleck.
While Ben Affleck continues to walk around looking like he sweats olive oil (seriously – can we have a word about his shirts? Did he lose access to their drycleaner in the divorce or something? WHY ARE HIS T-SHIRTS ALWAYS STAINED?), Jen will be here to remind us that she’s a cheerful and busy mother of 3 who bakes bread and does the school run every single day (with wet hair). She is not overly worried about how she looks because, gosh darn it, she’s got to get the kids out the door for a soccer tournament and karate lessons. (That’s probably why she hasn’t had time for Instagram until now!) The dirty t-shirts and wet hair are a perfect analogy for this split: Ben lost the woman who kept him clean.
Can you imagine the time and energy it takes to sustain a marriage to Ben Affleck? Now all of that time and energy is hers!
So what will she use it for?
This is what Instagram offers. Social media is not just about what the celebrities show us, it’s about what they want us to see. They can’t blame their Instagram posts on gossip or miscommunications or anonymous sources. Through social media, we get to see how they see themselves and how they want us to see them.
While Ben is working hard to make people accept his one-time alleged mistress Lindsay Shookus, Jen has continued to accumulate goodwill and trust from the public. It’s safe to admire and adore Jen because even when it all falls apart, even when her husband f-cks the nanny and it blows up in his face, she will smile through the sadness. She will tell Vanity Fair about her great love for him. She will never test or disappoint her fans. As Anne Helen Petersen wrote earlier this summer for BuzzFeed, Jennifer Garner is in the business of being the prototypical good girl. Jennifer Garner is indeed good at this game. And the really impressive part is that most people don’t even know she’s playing.
You can follow Jen on Instagram here.
Attached - Jennifer out in LA after the gym last week.