Why Are There So Many “Free Spirits” On Instagram?

I don’t know when it happened, but some time in the post-Twitter, Pre-Instagram boom of social media, there became three kinds of female millennials that exist on the Internet: Girls that look like one of the Haim sisters, girls that actually do the DIY they found on Pinterest, and girls that are self-proclaimed “Free Spirits.”

(There’s a subsection of the “Instagram free spirit” called the “Tinder travel philanthropist” but that is a whole other K-hole of confusion that I’m not even sure I have the tolerance to get into right now.)

A “free spirit,” as defined by Instagram, is a woman aged 17-27-ish who does not wash her hair on a regular basis (yet it still looks flawless), loves to “travel,” does not appear to have a job subsidizing said travel plans, and posts a variety of pictures doing yoga poses (namely, tree pose) in exotic locales.

These girls’ Instagram bios usually read something like “Daughter. Sister. Lover. Free spirit” or “following my bliss” or “I’m the luckiest girl in the world. I love my rescue puppy.”

These girls are magnetically happy, probably because they are so “free” and “spirited.” Urban Dictionary defines a free spirit as “one who is not restrained, as by convention or obligation, a nonconformist.”

The free spirit is like the second generation, more attractive version of the manic-pixie dream girl (remember her?). Unlike her quirky predecessor, the “free spirit” has incredible natural ombre highlights and was most definitely in a sorority before she realized that she was going to become a nonconformist free spirit. It was like, “let me be the most conformist person for four years, just kidding, I’m going to Bali and only wearing bralettes from now on.”

These girls are mostly confounding because they tend to thrive at places like Coachella which is a $400 concert that gives you a barcode upon entering, a.k.a, the opposite of “unrestrained.” However, Coachella DOES give the “free spirit” an opportunity to wear a daisy chain in context, so I guess it’s worth it.

By why is 30% of Instagram overwhelmed with the photos of “free spirits?” By nature of being an unrestrained “free spirit”, it appears that the lifestyle would leave very little room for “hold on, let me take a selfie.” Additionally, the “free spirit” spends so much time traveling…how is she constantly getting a wifi signal in Tanzania? Why did she bring her iPhone with her on the paddleboard? I’m surprised they even let phones INTO Burning Man? And who is the friend taking all these yoga photos? Where is HER Instagram?

That is the girl I want to meet. That is the real photographer, because how can you capture something that professes to be free? TC mark

featured image – Eric May

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