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@MANICPIXIEMEMEQUEEN: SUBVERTING THE MAINSTREAM INSTAGRAM NARRATIVE
In March of 2017, partially out of boredom and partially out of desperation to channel my personal turmoil into something productive and positive, I started @manicpixiememequeen. Although originally intended to be an anonymous "finsta," the account quickly gained traction in the niche meme community and went viral. Currently, the account has over 124,000 followers and continues to grow.
Using a hyperbolic persona created to both entertain and comment on a wide variety of topics, I created a narrative around my own mental health issues and personal life. In a way, @manicpixiememequeen serves as a sort of performative character–similar to how some performers create an alter ego–to interrogate issues that are frequently silenced, stigmatized, or shamed.
I use memes as a way to promote the public discussion of mental health issues, patriarchy, capitalism, identity issues, relationship issues, current social movements and injustices, astrology, spirituality, pop culture, and the increasingly complicated navigation of modern society.
I strongly believe that memes make these topics accessible for understanding and discussion, and they can even provide healing for the viewers. Especially with the memes that discuss mental illnesses and societal structures/injustices, it helps breaking down the inherent stigma casted on those who are ill and/or oppressed.
Humor is underrated. It can be one of the most powerful vehicles for understanding and healing. The easier these things are to talk about, the more we will discuss them, which will in turn break down the barriers that prevent understanding and empathy.
Ironically, as we grow more interconnected as a world through technology, the feeling of isolation grows and separates us. Instead of presenting ourselves authentically through social media and technology, we present the illusions of our best self–our most awesome moments, inflations of our achievements, the best picture of us at the most flattering angle with the best filter. As we see everyone appearing so happy, so successful, and so satisfied with their lives, we begin to compare ourselves to them; comparison robs us of our joy and success, and we become preoccupied with others to the point of making ourselves sick with a sense of inferiority and isolation.
@manicpixiememequeen serves as my response to mainstream Instagram culture; instead of presenting myself as perfect, happy, and successful, I present myself through the character of @manicpixiememequeen, a chronically neurotic, anxious, and unhappy persona. In turn, people relate to the character to the point that they feel comfortable enough to openly discuss aspects of society and/or their life that aren't so perfect or picturesque, and have the opportunity to connect with others who are going through similar issues.