A Decade of Instagram: How Kylie Jenner, Beyoncé and More Transformed Pop Culture
By Desiree Murphy
Since its inception in October 2010, Instagram has not only changed the way we all share glimpses into our own personal lives, but it began giving us access, like never before, into the worlds of our favorite celebrities and public figures. Stars like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ashton Kutcher and Kylie Jenner were some of the first to start inviting fans into their homes through the app, showing us their closets, bedrooms and how they were getting ready for a glamorous event hours before they were photographed on the red carpet or by the paparazzi. No longer did we have to rely on the tabloids or the internet to get our celebrity fix; the stars were showing us themselves.
By modifying the way they shared their formerly more private moments with the public, they instantly became more relatable, and their famous friends took notice. It wasn't long before A-listers like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Pratt all joined the platform, so that they, too, could be a part of redefining celebrity culture. Flash forward to 2019, everyone from LeBron James to Snoop Dogg and Jennifer Aniston has an active Instagram account.
"You can actually have a little bit more control over the narrative that's out there," Aniston told ET, prior to joining Instagram in October. "[You can] right some wrongs and some silly things that, God knows, are said often."
"I'm just so happy she's there. It's great," added Reese Witherspoon, Aniston's Morning Show co-star who has been using Instagram since 2013. "She DMed me the other day, and I'm like, 'Is this you?' She's like, 'Yeah, it's me!'"
"You can actually have a little bit more control over the narrative that's out there." — Jennifer Aniston
Going into 2020, it's hard to remember what life was like before selfies, hashtags and becoming "Instagram Official" with your significant other was a thing, but we can all thank Instagram (and how the celebrities used it) for introducing us to new ways to snap and edit pics, raise awareness on important social issues and promote our personal brands. Now, ET is taking a look at some of Instagram's most powerful trailblazers, and how they changed the game in the 2010s.
When the reality star joined Instagram in 2012 (see her first post above!), it was only a matter of time before she became one of the app's most-followed users and paved the way for how to master the art of the selfie. A year later, in 2013, The Chainsmokers penned an entire song based on the idea of taking "a selfie," placing an Instagram filter on it and, of course, giving it a witty caption.
"Can you guys help me pick a filter? I don't know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia," the guys sing on the track. "I wanna look tan, what should my caption be? I want it to be clever. How about 'Livin' with my b**ches, hash tag LIVE.'"
Since then, even the way people interact with celebrities all over the world has changed. Instead of asking for an autograph, fans are now more likely to open their front-facing camera on their cell phones and ask to take a selfie with their favorite star.
Inspired by the #FreeTheNipple campaign created by filmmaker Lina Esco in 2012, the singer was one of the first stars to start sharing risquéphotos of herself on Instagram. It wasn't long before celebrities like Rihanna, Chelsea Handler and Lena Dunham followed suit, bringing attention to the idea that it should be legally and culturally acceptable for women (as it is for men) to bare their nipples in public.
Due to the success of the hashtag and more people wanting to express themselves freely on the app, Instagram slightly eased up on it's nudity policy in 2015. According to its Community Guidelines, images and videos that show sexual intercourse, genitals and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks are still banned, along with some photos of female nipples. However, there is an exception for photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding.
"We've spent a lot of time thinking about the different points of view," the company shared in a statement at the time. "We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don't allow nudity on Instagram."
intimate photo broke Instagram's record for most likes at the time. In just 18 hours, the post had over 7.8 million likes, beating Selena Gomez's 2016 photo taken from a Coca-Cola ad that garnered 6.3 million likes.
The reality star can thank Instagram for helping her become the youngest self-made billionaire ever. For years, Jenner would post up-close shots of herself to the app and was scrutinized for enhancing her lips (and denying it). But when she finally admitted to getting lip fillers in 2015, she also came up with a genius idea: to own her most-talked-about feature and create an entire Kylie Lip Kits cosmetics line (later renamed Kylie Cosmetics).
Needless to say, the makeup maven changed the way users used Instagram forever. Now, it's rare to go on the app without seeing a product to buy or an #ad from a celeb.
In 2019, Jenner unsurprisingly had the most-liked post of all-time on Instagram (the birth announcement of her daughter, Stormi). That was until a photo of an ordinary, brown egg posted on the @world_record_egg account broke that record.
Even before the rapper released her breakthrough hit, "Bodak Yellow," in 2017, many people already knew her name and what she was all about from Instagram. While working on her music career, Cardi was simultaneously racking up followers on the app, thanks to her hilarious, no-holds-barred selfie videos in which she discussed everything from sex to fashion to how to respond to the haters, often makeup-free and wearing only a bra and underwear.
The Bronx, New York, native has reached mega success in recent years, but she has still stayed true to her no-filter personality (and affordable style!) on social media. In addition to promoting her music and setting the record straight on rumors surrounding her and her husband, Offset, Cardi began promoting inexpensive fashion brands, like Fashion Nova. This was a breath of fresh air, as her followers could easily copy her look on a budget, unlike the high-end outfits seemingly every other celebrity was wearing at the time. The money move led Cardi to create two collaborative collections with the brand by May 2019. Okurrr!
After winning America's hearts with her beloved roles in movies like Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama, Witherspoon has made it her mission in recent years to empower women all over the globe and enact change. Thanks to Instagram, Witherspoon is making that goal a reality, every time she logs on.
Ahead of the 2018 Golden Globes, for example, Witherspoon helped spearhead the "Times Up" Movement. Everyone from Eva Longoria to Kerry Washington and Tracee Ellis Ross was using the hashtag on Instagram, raising awareness for the anti-harassment and gender equality action plan. The movement went viral and inspired women everywhere to share their own personal stories of sexual harassment and misconduct.
You can also thank Witherspoon for convincing so many of your other favorite stars to join Instagram. In addition to getting Jennifer Aniston on board, stars like Natalie Portman and Matthew McConaughey have credited the Big Little Lies star for teaching them how to use the platform for good.
"Reese has been a wonderful support system in teaching me the ways of modernity," Portman told ET in 2018. "There's this thing called social media. It's a very new thing in my life, and I feel like a grandmother who's learned how to use the microwave."
Nothing "Toxic" here! In an Instagram world full of filtered pics and everything edited to perfection, the pop star has reminded us all to be ourselves with her wonderfully bizarre, random feed.
From workout snaps to videos of herself playing dress up, to silly selfies, memes and inspirational quotes, Spears shows us that you don't necessarily need a theme or aesthetic to make your Instagram page enjoyable for others.
Like Spears, the actress' Insta account really is the gift that keeps on giving! Garner took it to a whole new level, however, creating a feed that highlights everything from her normal, everyday activities to hobbies and people she finds interesting. Yes, it may be a celebrity account, but nothing about Garner's feed feels Hollywood.
From #TutuTuesday (in which she highlights famous ballerinas) to her #PretendCookingShow videos and photos of ferrets in wigs (we're not kidding), Garner has made her page a fun place for anyone who wants some lighthearted content. Plus, she's never afraid to show her not-so-glamorous side, posting pics of herself wearing everything from mouth guards to swim goggles and riding around on tractors.
She inspires us all to poke some fun at ourselves, and post not just our good moments, but our embarrassing ones, too.
When Instagram launched its Stories feature (giving users the ability to share images and videos that are 60 seconds or shorter) in 2016, Philipps basically turned her daily life as an actress/mother in Los Angeles into a sitcom that over two million of "you guys" follow.
The former Freaks and Geeks star told The New Yorker that this new sense of fame wasn't planned; she simply started using it as a way to pass the time after she and her husband, Marc Silverstein, put their two young children, Birdie and Cricket, to bed.
"I would go downstairs and be alone in our bedroom, kind of just waiting for Marc to come down to watch TV," she explained. "I had tried to do Snapchat, [but] I couldn't figure out how to get anyone to follow me. I was getting literally two hundred people watching."
"I test out the angles, just to make sure I don't look like I have a double chin," she added, of how she shoots the videos herself. "That's important to me."
In addition to Stories, the platform also launched a Live feature in 2016, allowing users to stream video to their followers. We've seen everything from celebs teasing their new music (looking at you, Taylor Swift!) to verbal fights go down between couples (like Jersey Shore's Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Jen Harley).
But who could forget that time Diplo went on Instagram Live and documented Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner's Las Vegas wedding, which was supposed to be kept a secret? The move made headlines, and ever since then, we haven't been able to get enough of his feed, which is filled with travel pics, shirtless selfies, hilarious captions and more.
"I love Diplo, but he loves his 'gram more than a 13-year-old," Jonas joked during U.K.'s Capital Breakfast With Roman Kemp radio show. "He posts every five seconds. He literally, like, live-streamed [our ceremony] with dog face filters."
"We just laughed, we loved it," he added. "We thought it was ridiculous. And I just love that he was walking into the chapel and he's like, 'Going to hit this wedding real quick,' [in his Instagram Story]."
The creation of Instagram also introduced the world to a whole new kind of celebrity: the influencer, who got #InstaFamous.
Prior to building an empire of #bbg fitness videos, apps, books, stadium tours and more (all thanks to the success she found on Instagram), Itsines was working as a personal trainer in Australia. She joined Insta in 2012 and changed the fitness game forever, showing people how to properly squat, lunge and lift, all while creating a cult-like community in the process.
By March 2016, Itsines was named one of TIME's "30 Most Influential People on the Internet," and a year later, Forbes dubbed her "the internet's undisputed fitness queen -- and a multimillionaire to boot." Her page currently boasts over 11.9 million followers.
While Itsines was gaining new followers as a fitness influencer, a previously unknown dancer by the name of Taylor Hatala put her mark on the dance world when she started posting videos of herself showcasing her impressive hip-hop skills to Instagram and YouTube.
Little did she know that her videos (often filmed with choreographer Matt Steffanina) would contribute to a whole movement of dancers and choreographers now videotaping their work in the studio and posting clips to the 'Gram. Plus, Hatala's moves got the attention of stars like Janet Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres and Chris Brown.
"It used to be that your résumé was a sheet of paper that you would hand in at auditions," Hatala explained to The Washington Post. "Now it's our social media. My Instagram is my résumé ... people say, 'We saw your Instagram and this is why we wanted you.'"
Within the past few years, this Toronto-based dancer has gained a huge following on Instagram, thanks to his viral dance clips that feature animated emojis and motivational messages guaranteed to cure anyone's bad day. He's all about spreading love and positivity, and we're here for it!
And it appears the celebrities are too, including Ariana Grande, who took notice of Colley's videos early on. Her "Monopoly" music video with Victoria Monét, released in April, was inspired by Colley's work (and features him around the 0:43 mark).
On the beauty front, the Mexican-American, California-grown makeup guru is arguably one of the most recognized beauty influencers out there, with over 3.9 million followers on Instagram. She started from the bottom (working as a freelance makeup artist), and with the help of social media (and the assistance of her behind-the-camera husband, Steven), she's now walking red carpets, attending Hollywood premieres and taking pics with stars like Victoria Beckham, Lady Gaga and Jada Pinkett Smith.