It’s the accidental selfie that launched the ultimate social media phenomenon. And it was started by a 2-year- old.
The latest Instagram account to go viral is @insta2yearold, which parodies life through the eyes of toddler Harlow, whose mom Ilana Wiles is the founder of the popular Mommy Shorts blog.
Caption: "Is this thing on? #myfirstselfie"
The photos posted to the account are accompanied by humorous captions—thoughts that Wiles jokes her "very serious baby" might be entertaining at any given moment. And in the past five days, it has amassed more than 17,000 followers.
"She's got this crazy glare...It's just her serious way of taking things in," Wiles, a New York City mother of two, said. "We always try to imagine what she's thinking."
Caption: "Poor big people. All that walking must cut into their nap time. #zzzzzzzzzz"
Wiles is the blogger behind the viral Baby Mugging and Baby Suiting memes, which encouraged fans to engage in some simple trick photography with their babies posing behind mugs and suits. But Wiles' new project is strictly centered on her own photography -- and one key contribution by her daughter.
It all began over the summer after Harlow, who turns 2 next week, stole her mother's phone and managed to take a selfie. That photo, which is mostly just a shot of Harlow's forehead, ultimately became @insta2yearold's inaugural snapshot, complete with the caption "Is this thing on? #myfirstselfie."
Don't get the wrong impression—Harlow hasn't suddenly been given free rein with a smartphone just so Wiles can update the Instagram account. Most of the more than two dozen photos posted to the account so far have been taken by Wiles, but made to look like a child could have shot them. All the pictures, Wiles said, have been inspired by something Harlow was actually doing.
"Originally, I was thinking only one of her hands could be in a shot -- you have to imagine the other hand is actually holding the phone," Wiles said. "I broke that rule this weekend. She was playing in my tampons, that was actually happening...I snapped a couple of pictures and one of them was so perfect, but it had both of her hands in it. I thought, 'OK, maybe she's wearing a GoPro for this.'"
Caption: "Working on my calling card. #widn #insta2yearoldwuzhere"
Wiles began posting to the account in early October but only started promoting it late last week with a post to her main Instagram account, @mommyshorts. That post plus media attention prompted an exponential increase in followers for @insta2yearold.
While Wiles routinely posts photos of Harlow and older sister Mazzy on her blog, she avoids full shots of Harlow's face on @insta2yearold because she wants fans to imagine the photos are being taken from any toddler's perspective. Much of what her daughter does, she said, is universal.
Caption: "My mom says these are the last of the strawberries. No worries. I'm pretty sure crying will make some magically appear in the fridge."
"I like that it's all a little bit anonymous," Wiles said.
Harlow isn't the first semi-anonymous toddler making waves on social media. The mother of all toddler-centered social media accounts may be Honest Toddler, a.k.a. writer and mom Bunmi Laditan, of Twitter fame.
Wiles, herself a fan of Honest Toddler, says @insta2yearold distinguishes itself because it is photo-centric and has a slightly different tone.
Caption: "I don't want to brag but I only needed twenty napkins to finish this ice cream."
"Hopefully [Honest Toddler] doesn't think I'm trying to step on her toes," Wiles said. "I think what she does is awesome. She's hilarious."
Fortunately for Wiles, Laditan and parents everywhere, there seems to be enough toddler-inspired hilarity to go around.