Cute animals are a staple commodity of online content. Various accounts, like Strange Animals on Twitter of Chill Wildlife on Instragram, traffic in non-humans' endless appeal. When I scroll through my feeds on either channel, I tend to like all of the photos of both tiny and large critters doing idiosyncratic things indiscriminately. But I've always thought something was missing. I didn't notice what it was until I came across We Rate Lizards, a self-explanatory Twitter account that seemed to inject a harsh truth into the standard fare: Some animals are better than others. Some, in fact, suck.
There are different iterations of "We Rate" Twitters but this one finally gives reptiles their due. The mysterious arbiters of taste behind the feed judge user-submitted pictures of lizards on a scale from one to 10. Sometimes, though, a lizard can garner a score of 100 out of 10, or, inexplicably, a score out of 20. (One constant is that lizards that look stoned or resemble an actual nug of weed get an automatic rating of 420 out of 10.) The process appears highly subjective, as are the best reads: A bearded dragon appropriating Mexican culture—wearing a sombrero, he was "ready for a fiesta"—garnered an eight out of 10, as did one who was simply "radiant" and "bountiful" next to some dandelions. A "freak" lizard "sleeping like they fucking dead!!!" got a perfect rating.
As with most arbitrarily enforced hierarchies and advanced and hard-to-understand memes, the people behind We Rate Lizards are teens. Specifically, two 17-year-old girls who are partners in life and lizards, though they prefer the efficient moniker "lizbians." "We're lesbians and we love lizards," Scout, one half of the duo explained in an email. Her other half, Elyse, put it a different way: "[We] are lesbian lizards."
Unfortunately, neither of their moms allows them to have pet lizards of their own, so for now they settle for judging submissions of other people's. And their opinions are in demand. "We Rate Lizards is kind of a way to play into our adoration for the animals all while sharing them with the community," Elyse said.
While low ratings seem rare, many people, smugly sure of their pet's specialness, have been gutted after submitting their reptiles to Scout and Elyse—they don't always take the seemingly arbitrary selection and rating system well. "We get death threats all the time for either not posting or not rating lizards 'correctly,'" she explained.
So how do they rate lizards? Elyse and Scout have distinct and different approaches. Elyse, it seems, is more forgiving. Her love of all lizards sometimes obscures the account's titular purpose: "I want to rate them all 100/10," she admitted. "I love all lizards and want to kiss them all. They are all beautiful; I actually get emotional when I see them." But she tries to take her job seriously, as it is serious. "We consider the photo quality, the content of the photo, and the environment. We try not to include photos with bad habitats or dangerous situations, as well as pictures that falsely show people how to take care of lizards." She adds that the more exotic the lizard, the higher the rating.
Scout, on other hand, really savors her status as the Anna Wintour of reptiles. "I'm biased," she said. "My favorites are blue-tongued skinks, which I almost always give 10/10. Oops." When I asked her if she felt like she is holding lizards to unattainable beauty standards, she replied, "Fuck yea."
Elyse maintains a more body-positive stance: "Lizards are beautiful and deserve to feel beautiful, no matter what their size."