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New York Post: @killerandasweetthang

Instagram stars are the latest incarnation of Superbloggers, following the trail of “real-life” people who have skillfully cracked the visual code, affording them a the leap into stardom, and public fame.

She’s young (20 years old), beautiful (her pout is perfectly rounded, her cheeks plump), wealthy (she frequents Chateau Marmont, and even featured on Rich Kids of Instagram), and white. Her name is Eileen Kelly, aka Killerandasweetthang. She has 306,000 followers on Instagram to date. Kelly curates her images in a way that is not intended to arouse, but rather to project an image of “self-love,” following on the trail of empowerment narratives of unmediated, total body positivity and confidence. Fortunately for Kelly, she was gifted with an almost unfaultable appearance, sliding perfectly into beauty standards and norms of ideal femininity. Her waist is perfectly synched, her bum toned, with no visible signs of cellulite or stretch marks. Although Nabokov’s Lolita comes to minds, Kelly negates such distinctions, instead asserts, “I’m relatable. I’m human!” (Refinery29).

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Image: @killerandasweetthang.

I started this blog post while reading The Taste and Aftertaste of Asian Superbloggers, and found myself recalling a girl who I stumbled over on Instagram, a girl who conveniently stole (coded: bought) the jacket I’ve been wanting for the past 2 months— a baby pink version of a jacket I’ve been wanting for a longer 2 or so years (the jacket was being sold at a vintage store specializing in goods sourced in Japan. It was retailing for $500). The jacket, a Sukajan, is fittingly an Asian-commodity now being mass consumed by a predominately (white) U.S. market. Like Japanese Net Idols, who “produce their own websites that feature personal photos and narratives characterized by cute aesthetics and practices” (47),  Kelly relies on the production of “cuteness” to create her soft image, which although is constructed for a largely young female teen audience, is none the less scripted specifically for a male audience and gaze.

Her aesthetic, which projects a devilish, flirtatious, youthfulness co-opts similar visual codes reminiscent of Asian cuteness. In this way, Kelly (along with her counterparts see: @babegal.lee @arvidabystrom) can be read as the aftertaste of Asian cute productions.

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Image: google images

As pointed to in The Taste and Aftertaste of Asian Superbloggers, cute culture was previously consumed by a predominately American audience. In its “aftertaste,” the original producers (predominately young, Asian females) have been replaced by white bodies. More specifically, the producers are seemingly always white females, who appear to be of middle to upper-class America. While Kelly’s own sexuality appears fluid (I can’t account for how she would identify herself, except for conclusions drawn by her multiple mentions of past “bad-boyfriends”), on occasion posting sexually suggestive images of her with other females, it is always conditioned by an absent, yet supposed male audience.

Kelly relies on her ability to perform “cute work” for a wanting (imagined) audience, and similar to both Net Idols, and Superbloggers, concedes she does not get paid for any of her work online. Rather, sees it as an investment in building her own personal brand and image for the future.

Earlier in January, Kelly was featured in an article for the New York Post. The title of the article “I fuel fantasies of men who want sex with young girls, and I’m fine with it,” left Kelly feeling exploited and used. The problems I similarly have with Kelly is that she makes claims to subverting an oppressive (white) heteropatriarchy, while failing to account for the fact that these same hegemonic structures enable figures such as her to reach such wide-spread attention (and “success”). Her image is not an inclusive one, and relatable to a small few. Her overly publicized sexuality induces a sentiment of inferiority amongst her female audiences as they are made aware of their own body anxieties, which disable them from expressing, and accessing their own sexuality so liberally.

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Image: @killerandasweetthang. Jacket being fought over.

“Cute is a signifier that accommodates” (48). Kelly’s capital comes from her ability to satisfy the desires of her audiences. Whether these desires are rigidly positive is not a condition within Kelly’s “accommodation” (as in the case of my own bodily anxieties, which are not necessarily as desire I find within myself but a desire I esteem to), but it is in her ability to extract an emotional response that is in some way antagonistic (the older male desire of a figure he couldn’t have when he was “age appropriate”) that affords Kelly her stature and cult following.
While this appears as a carefully orchestrated strategy on the part of Kelly (and a partial wish of my own that it actually was), her own public statements commenting on the production of her online self, stresses an unduly authenticity. An authenticity— if it really is authentic— only functions to reify hegemonic structures of race, class, gender, and beauty (slimness, youthfulness) that she thinks of herself as dismantling.
*See: her recent twitter posts calling out U.S. clothing brand Brandy Melville for their narrow, and “racist” depiction of women, who she states “is literally what’s wrong w this culture,” twitter.com/eileezy

 

…Now I’m just waiting for Kelly to out herself with the headline “20 year-old performance artist creates fictitious character on Instagram.”

Sidenote: a really interesting (and well written) article speaking on Kelly, titled “My Kind of Porn,” (see link under further reading) goes into the fetishization of Kelly’s online person, and the dialectics of female anxieties being scripted on and against the idealized images of Kelly’s prescriptive beauty. It wasn’t until reading that I was able to implicate my own repulsion, and intrigue that has enthralled part of me to constantly pull me back to stalking Kelly’s Instagram. A space where I can implant my own desires and read my personal bodily aesthetics against (something that, like the consumption of pornography, is always done in private).

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FURTHER READING:

My Kind of Porn

https://www.instagram.com/killerandasweetthang/

http://www.wmagazine.com/people/2015/11/eileen-kelly-instagram-tumblr/photos/

http://www.refinery29.uk/2016/02/102339/instagrams-sex-icons-girls

http://babegal-lee.tumblr.com

https://www.instagram.com/babegal.lee/

https://www.instagram.com/arvidabystrom/

https://www.instagram.com/vajiajia/?hl=en

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3 thoughts on “Waiting for Eileen Kelly to out herself as a performance artist.

  1. As you mentioned, Eileen Kelly’s instagram appeals to two very specific audiences: teenage girls and older men who fetishize teenage girls. Due to the rapid influx of smart phone culture, most young women turn to social media celebrities as a primary source for examples of normative feminine beauty and behavior. Although Kelly is 20 years old, she could easily be mistaken for a high schooler and she appropriates Asian “cuteness” to further promote ideals of youth and innocence. Consequently, young teenage girls (such as my 14 year old sister) view Kelly’s hypersexualized instagram account as a precedent for not only their own instagram posts but also a basis for their female identity. While Kelly claims that posing half-naked in the majority of her pictures is her way of promoting self-love she’s actaually teacher young women to equate body positivity and sex. Thus, as young girls mature into adulthood they associate their self value with the romantic and sexual attention that they receive from men. Kelly’s idea of body positivity is exclusive to white, pretty, thin, cis, girls with wealthy backgrounds who promote the fetishization of purity, innocence, and cuteness to further objectify themselves for the attention of men.

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  2. Eileen Kell is half Asian. She is not appropriating. this is her natural physical appearance, and there are loads of thin/pretty/cis women of all backgrounds…… and she is allowed to be sexy like everyone else. This sounds like a poc queer hating. u want u? check out lula hyers or sagea flocke

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  3. I just randomly heard of this girl. She is incredibly beautiful; id certainly feel more accepting of myself and expressive with my sexuality if i looked like that II feel depressed after browsing her instagram. .. whiile i in no way want to judge her (she seems very wise and intetesting) it seems like you can have an amazing life with famous friends and beautiful luxuries simply or mostly for how you look on the outside.

    Being an ugly or average woman sucks in this world. I feel.invisible and like my thoughts arent worth hearing by anybody. I’m where I should be on the bmi but now I feel fat after looking at these images. Can’t say any.norms are being challenged here, but good for you for expressing your sexuality (which is exactly what we’ve been told men like, ad it so happens)

    Enjoy your party lifestyle and privilege, and I don’t mean that in s snark way honestly.

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