SILVER SPRING, Md.– It was the summer of 2016 and for one rising senior at Richard Montgomery High School, it was time to make his last year in high school the most memorable one yet.
It started with a simple idea. He wanted to get to know people from all around the county by uniting students over one thing: hot girls.
Two years later, his Instagram account @moco.baddies boasts over 11,600 followers and has grown into one of the largest student-run social media accounts in the county.
“People would always be talking about cute girls from other schools and I just thought [@moco.baddies] was a funny idea,” said the account’s founder and manager, who wished to remain anonymous. “I was thinking of a way to bring [Montgomery County] together because I never really knew anyone outside of my school until making this account.”
From the start, he aimed to create a professional Instagram page that people could enjoy and take seriously. Anyone can contact the account via direct message (DM) in hopes of being featured. The owners says he chooses who to post based on the quality of their photos and his own personal bias.
Yet despite the page’s popularity, it’s also received widespread backlash for objectifying teenage girls.
“I think it’s pretty weird to be honest,” said Nick Beaupre, a sophomore at Montgomery Blair High School. “Some of the people on it are in college and some are freshman and I feel like that’s creepy because people of many different ages are being sexualized by an Instagram account.”
As a public Instagram account, anybody, including children and adults, can easily access the page’s content and the social media accounts of the girls who are posted, many of whom are under 18.
Several students have voiced their concerns about how the account plays into the hyper-sexualization of younger women and have taken their qualms to the owner of the account.
“I’ve gotten hate from mostly girls,” said the account holder. “There’s a lot more positive [direct messages] than negative ones. They say it’s misogynistic and stuff but I’m actually encouraging girls to be confident. I can see where they are coming from though. I just say that if you don’t like it, you don’t have to follow it.”
“Honestly, it kind of built up my self esteem,” remarked a featured “baddie” on the account. “It felt a bit uncomfortable at first but I actually began to feel more positive about my body after receiving so much positive response.”
The owner of the account plans to continue posting frequently and has high hopes for @moco.baddies from a monetary standpoint as well.
“I’ve been making money through promoting events for a while now, even getting free VIP tickets to Moonrise,” he said. “So I hope to keep gaining followers and use my influence in the county to continue, hopefully promote bigger events and maybe have some of my own.”
The account also improves the Instagram popularity of those featured.
“I got about 300 follow requests the first night after the post went up,” commented one featured “baddie.”
The Instagram influence goes even farther than those associated with the account– the page has inspired a trend of other similar county-wide accounts such as @moco.daddies, @moco.sophomores and @moco_athletes.
Social media has become a tool for individuals old and young. Some use it for business, others for charity and still others to simply post family photos, memes or whatever meal they’re eating.
But in Montgomery County, they post about cute high schoolers.
The author of this story is a Montgomery County high school journalism student.