There's something lurking in the back of all your favorite Instagrams. You may not notice it, peeking out between cups of frothy latte and crusty croissant. You may not see it, sitting elegantly underneath that plate of brunch food. And you may not even be able to detect it in that photo purposefully posed to show off an immaculate manicure and ring game.
But it's there.
Oh, it's there.
This year, it was all about white marble. It showed up on our nails, our jewelry, our iPhone cases, our notebooks and even our T-shirts. But really, white marble made its star turn on our tables — as the backdrop to our best Instagram photos.
What is it about white marble? Does it have special light-reflecting abilities? And how is it, like, everywhere? It's not like every table in every popular brunch place the world over has the white stuff. It's not like every kitchen counter across the country is covered in shades of white and gray.
But we've made a discovery: You can fake a white marble table with contact paper.
Can a white marble background really make Instagram photos that much better?
We decided to test it out on some classic Instagram cliches, including the overhead tablescape...
We hate to admit it, but pretty much every classic "scene" looked better with white marble in the background.
But does white marble really have that power? All those photos were relatively Instagram-ready already — hell, succulents are tagged in more than one million pics on Insta. What about items that aren't so readily snapped? What about the things that are... real? That would never be considered acceptable Instagram fodder otherwise?
Like our messy desks, for instance.
Or our bedside table when we're really, really sick.
(This is getting annoying, isn't it?)
OK, OK, but what about the lunch we eat when we're either feeling
hungover sick or just really damn happy: McDonald's.
The tricks behind social media fakery: It pains us to say but it's true: Everything, from the glorified green plants to heinous desk messes, looks more composed and elegant against white marble. For real, a Big Mac on white marble does not look that bad. Neither do those fries (although we might just be hungry).
It's a helpful trick — and a stark reminder of how much Instagram prettiness is based on, well, tricks. What we "see" in those square photos often seems a little more glamorous than it really is in real life, as anyone who's ever used a filter knows. And it's something even Instagram-famous people have started owning up to, like beauty blogger Huda Kattan, who recently wholly admitted to excessive photo editing to get the perfect shot, or Stina Sanders, who lost the filters and posing in favor of getting "real."
Getting a gorgeous Insta photo isn't about living a gorgeous life, so much as it is about employing gorgeous-making strategies — like creating a fake marble backdrop for less than $12. Want your sad desk salad to look spruced up? Want your pile of sticky notes on the top of your desk to look chicer? You now know how to do it.
Or, y'know, you can stop trying to get the perfect Instagram photo altogether. It's all a little fake anyway.