Photo by @antoni via Instagram

But that’s why I love them

Rebecca Firkser
August 14, 2018

I recently read a post on Man Repeller about just how bad celebrities are at Instagram. It wasn’t supposed to be mean; if anything, it was calling out us, the normals, who gather by the millions to smash the like button on a poorly lit, blurry photo of a star’s dog or award show dress. Celebrities aren’t good at Instagram because they never had to be, the story posits. The article included one food photo—a shot of Gwyneth Paltrow’s decidedly not awesome-looking charred sweet potato—and I wondered if this theory applied to other celebrities’ breakfast photos on the platform. So I did some digging.

For some reason, these “bad” photos are still somewhat endearing. Celebrities may get to wear designer clothing and vacation on private islands, but they also struggle to get that perfect top-down shot of their brunch (they’re just like us!). As Korsha Wilson writes in Taste on making an Oprah recipe, “it’s the same reason we like paparazzi photos and behind-the-scenes clips: We want to see real life without the veneer of posturing, and nothing does that quite like food and cooking.”

Beautiful little veggie paella for one 🥘

A post shared by Gwyneth Paltrow (@gwynethpaltrow) on

I started with GP's Instagram, where amid candid photos of the actress and lifestyle magnate getting acupuncture and smiling with her girlfriends, I found her “beautiful little veggie paella for one.” Though it may not be as “goopy” as other foods she’s posted (no adaptogens!), it was clear she enjoyed the meal.

Even Beyonce, who is known for her highly curated Instagram style, has fallen prey to the food photo celebrity phenomenon. Back in March, she posted a photo of avocado toast on Instagram. While this photo is in focus and decently lit, an avocado rose on an English muffin is not nearly up to Beyonce’s usual Instagram standards. Yet it still got 1,772,842 likes.

Freddie Prinze Jr. prides himself on his cooking skills, yet his Instagram is obviously lacking in art direction. Though the last shot in this album is a perfectly decent plate of shrimp, Freddie started things off with a pretty bare image of red pepper sizzling flakes in oil. And guess what? That oil close-up still got over 20 thousand likes.

“The secret to my recipe is I smile the whole time,” writes Tiffany Haddish under a photo of stuffed artichoke. Is the photo sort of blurry? Yes. Did a food stylist adjust the leaves of the artichoke or placement of the cheese? Nope. But who cares! She loved cooking the artichoke so much she made it again the following week.

Most of the time, celebrities simply post their unedited, unstyled photos and call it a day. But every now and then, you see an even more in-depth display of a star’s just-like-us-ness. Blake Lively knows the struggle of taking 15 minutes to move plates around until they look just right in frame: “When you sacrifice a hot coffee to get the photo just right… Thanks instagram. You’ve made me so lame.”

Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski, bless his heart, leaves the beautiful food photos to a pro: his boyfriend, Joey Krietemeyer, who is clearly a talented photographer.

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