This is a presentation of sociability (and obviously - age). These balloons are commonly seen decorating pictures to showcase a birthday celebration gone past. A drawn-out party filled with alcohol, close friends, strangers, and questionable decisions. You wouldn’t exactly purchase these balloons for a birthday celebration of one, right? They gather impressions of “knowing how to have a good time,” a quality many online daters wish to demonstrate.

These metallic, foil balloons are subject to a distinct gender pattern.  Where men can be seen using luxury cars as a prop in their profile snaps (Babe Magnet), women are more prone to be posed next to these metallic, foil balloons. How did this trend come to be materialised? Could we investigate celebrity pop culture? Back in 2014, musician Robin Thicke used letter balloons in his music video “Blurred Lines” spelling out “ROBIN THICKE HAS A BIG DICK.” See video at the 3:51 mark, here. This video was widely criticized as exploitative and degrading to women, and rather than completely fizzling out into oblivion, cast aside as another celebrity mishap, the balloons became the singular lasting element. In fact, they really took to the limelight. And really anything that takes to the limelight is snatched up by Instagram. The perfect bait for bountiful likes.

Six years later, this trend still decorates Instagram and has wandered into women’s online dating pictures. Will it ever die?