By now, I trust you are familiar with what's referred to in the vernacular as a "thirst trap". That is, hot pictures posted on your public Instagram with the express purpose of attracting the attention of a specific FILF (Follower I'd Like to Fuck). The FILF could be an ex or current beau, someone who’s left you on read, or maybe just the lucky person you hope to cuff with over winter. If successful, the FILF shall be so overcome with thirst (horn) they’ll slide directly into your DMs to say "hey wuu2"
Thirst traps are by far one of the most enjoyable aspects of modern life. The exertion of power, the subversive naughtiness of using what you have to get what you want, the faint glimmer of attention, the subsequent disappointing shag – it's just all so delicious. Thirst traps make me feel alive. Here’s one I made earlier:
More prolific than the thirst trap, though, is its cutesy cousin: the wholesome trap. If the thirst trap is about showing a little skin on The Apps to remind the object of your horniness that you exist, the wholesome trap is about showing what a down-to-earth, shit together, warm and fuzzy person you are – in a hot way. The wholesome trap is more prolific because it is posted near-constantly, and needn’t be saved for special occasions. It can be done online and in person. It’s about reminding your crush, daily, that you’re fit, but you’re also so much more than that.
Think about it: if you’re on a date with a FILF, they’re much more likely to say, "Wow Helen, those homemade brownies on your Insta looked so good! How was the rest of the weekend at your parents' place?" than "lol that pic of you in your knickers standing in front of your mirror is what made me to text you back".
Here are some examples of wholesome traps you may be familiar with. Perhaps you’ve even tried some of these yourself!
The 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' Era: Rise of the Wholesome Trap
I like Zooey Deschanel, but she has a lot to answer for. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl era of the late-2000s established that quirky gamines who love The Smiths were by far the hottest, so the rest of us slapped a bird on everything and asked for those crap pastel record players from Urban Outfitters for Christmas. These years laid the groundwork for the existential dread-laden thought, 'I must create an aesthetic that shows I am a sex object with interests, and let everyone know about it.'
Without these years, we would not have the following:
The Self-Care Wholesome Trap
By far the most irritating wholesome trap is "the self-care one", because it makes hypocrites of us all. When you see someone post about yoga, you naturally think, 'Stop it.' Yet, the minute you drag yourself into a downward dog you just can’t resist telling the world about how nice it feels to "take control" of your emotions and find an "outlet" for your negative orgones.
Self-care traps are a cornerstone of the wholesome genre, because they communicate the vital message: "I AM TAKING CONTROL OF MY MENTAL HEALTH!" in a way that’s much more aesthetically-pleasing than a video of you having a panic attack in neon lighting outside a therapist's office.
Selfies of legs covered in bubble bath lather, videos of warrior poses by salt lamps and pictures of novels and journals on plain white duvets made Instagram the app it is today – and no one, absolutely no one, is above posting them.
The Outdoorsy Wholesome Trap
"What are you doing this bank holiday?" you ask your office crush the Friday prior. Then they say, "I’m heading back to my parents' place, in Cornwall. I can’t wait to see my dogs!" Immediately, you hate Cornwall. You absolutely detest it. And yet you love them ten times more now than you did 20 seconds ago.
Meanwhile, you, An Idiot, did not make bank holiday weekend plans, so spend all three days stalking their Instagram story with the sound fully on, listening to the very blowy wind of their dog walks, looking at the way their hair has been perfectly ruffled by the sea breeze, and debating whether their Barbour makes them a Tory but conceding that, either way, they look fit. Then in the evenings you’re tortured with videos of them playing with their dogs, looking so! cute! You wonder if one day you two will cuff up and you’ll be invited to meet their parents in Cornwall and play fetch with Harvey the lab and get that West Country hiking glow. You have a sad wank. You, my friend, have been outdoorsy wholesome trapped.
See also: rock climbing, cycling, any and all lido content.
The 'I Have Friends' Wholesome Trap
At the core of wholesome trap technique is demonstrating to the world that you do more than just sit inside taking selfies and swiping through Tinder, waiting for that guy who fingered you two months ago to reply. You’re way too busy being a kind, sociable, interesting person for all that! To achieve this it is absolutely vital that you prove you have friends who are way more important than any potential mate, and that you always have loads and loads and loads of fun together, and never once browse Twitter in their presence. Because this shows how much everyone loves you, thus proving to the targeted FILF that they should love you too.
Friends (always tagged) should appear in your Instagram story at least every few days. Prime time locations for photographing your friends for the Insta story are: sunny Saturday afternoons in the pub, dance floors where you’re both being a bit silly – ‘cos you don’t take life too seriously ;) – across the table at brunch and on their birthdays, to show how much you care.
The 'I'm Flawed But Still Cute' Wholesome Trap
Unpopular opinion, but: I think a degree of vanity is important. I know that’s *such* a Leo thing to say, but my life improved dramatically once I started thinking of myself as "OK looking", rather than a "short frizzy hobbit who could probably do with some lip fillers". Instagram, with all of its belfies, is an inherently vain platform where users endeavour to look their best. But the moment you break away from the facade to point out that you, owner of an absolutely stunning grid and HD brows, can sometimes momentarily look somewhat less perfect, you are a much more wholesome, likeable and relatable character. As a wise band of young men once said, "You don’t know you’re beautiful / And that’s what makes you beautiful."
This category is one that can be applied on multiple social media platforms. On Twitter, say, it could be you talking about your love of chicken nuggets, and how Fleabag is the only TV character you really relate to. Before you come for me: yes, I definitely do these things.
On Instagram, a "flawed but cute" wholesome trap is easily identified by gallery posts that compare how your abs look sucked in and svelte, or pushed out like a pregnancy seven months in the making (a highly underrated pose imo). The caption always reads something original like, "DON’T BELIEVE THE SOCIAL MEDIA HYPE. BOTH IMAGES ARE REAL. INSTAGRAM IS AN ILLUSION. LOVE YOURSELF." I don’t wanna knock these posts too much because they are genuinely helpful. But the people posting are usually always a size 8?? And the gym selfies they post 98 percent of the rest of the time are what lead to the body confidence issues in the first place?? Anyway – bodies and curves and lines are beautiful! Please can we all delete Instagram! Please!!!!
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.