This post’s featured image is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I took it on a recent sojourn to Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming I went on since the planned trip I had to Banff with my brother and cousin this summer had to be postponed since we’re persona non grata in Canada. It’s a gorgeous picture, possibly one of the most striking I’ve ever taken, the type you frame and display in living room. I’m not here to talk about this photo though. I’m here to talk about what was happening just to the right of this photo, directly out of frame. It was there that I witnessed the most blatant and absurd influencers in the wild experience I’ve ever been privy to.
Let me paint you a picture with words.
A svelte brunette of indiscriminate age—she could’ve been 25 or 54, knelt on the stone barricade separating the viewing platform from what I can only imagine was a 100 foot drop to the river below (my own fear of heights kept me from getting too close). She looked pensively out on the waterfall, angling her face just so in order to either really contemplate her place in the universe or get that angle just right for the gram. She was at once serene and frenzied, changing poses at alarming speeds as a blonde of indiscriminate age dressed like a cool mom’s favorite minion toggled between taking photographs with a phone and a large, professional looking camera. The brunette was wearing what can only be described as Pocahontas-porn chic, beige, fringed, slit high, and very sheer when the sun hit it right. She was naturally bare foot. A satchel sat at her feet, and as she deemed necessary, she’d lean down and grab props: a small feathered headdress, a large purse crocheted in the likeness of a dream catcher, and a ratty looking medical mask, before discarding them during pose switches.
My first thought when she threw the feathers on her head was just a “this isn’t good,” but then I thought that maybe, just maybe, she was Native American and I should give her some leeway. My attempts at non-cynicism evaporated when she opened her mouth. The accent suggests she’s a native of somewhere in Eastern Europe.
I watched for much longer than I should’ve. I was transfixed. Transfixed by the speed in which she changed her poses and added and discarded her props. Transfixed by her utter lack of shame. Transfixed by the second-hand embarrassment I got watching the families around us watch her writhing about and pretending it wasn’t happening. I was obsessed with it all, all while a gorgeous waterfall thundered down a painting-come-to-life canyon in the same eye line; ain’t that America, right?
Typically I might try and analyze this situation and see what it says about our society at large. I didn’t though. I also never went and checked the IG tags for the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to see if I could find the final, posted product. I’m not sure I want to. I don’t want to ruin the pure absurdity of this very special moment. If you take it upon yourself to do so, it would’ve been taken and posted sometime around August 16th. Please let me know if her caption has anything to do with painting with all the colors of the wind. That might be on a little too on the nose, but I could really only hope for the best.